The Friends of Kent Churches was set up in 1949 in response to the poor state of repair of Kent’s churches at that time. It is a registered charity (207021) and has over 400 individual members and 275 society members. We are pleased that we are supported by our Patrons: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Rochester, the Lord-Lieutenant of Kent Viscount De L’Isle and the Lady Kingsdown.
An important part of our role is to make grants to churches which need to carry out repairs to their fabric and historical fittings and also towards the facilities to keep them in use. We consider applications twice yearly in November and May and grants are paid once work is completed. We also act for the National Churches Trust and deal with their Partnership grant applications on their behalf.
At the beginning we raised money for grants by opening gardens and selling cards and typical grants were for £25 or £50. In 1984 the sponsored Ride & Stride was started and in the first year £44,000 was raised and it has since gone from strength to strength enabling us to make larger grants to meet the increasing costs of repair.
The Ride & Stride takes place on the second Saturday every September. Half the sponsorship money raised goes straight back to the church nominated by participants and half goes to the Friends. Through the Ride & Stride and generous donations and legacies, Kent’s churches have benefited by over £2 million in the last ten years.
Our other role is to foster interest in Kent’s churches and we do this through visits and lectures.
We also sponsor the annual John Briggs event held in memory of a past supporter which is held at a different church each year and is used as a fund raising activity for that church.