Hereward the Wake trek a 'success beyond our dreams'

Hereward the Wake charity challenge Fenland Ely

One of the organisers of the Hereward the Wake charity challenge said it was an almighty success as they walked from Peterborough to Ely for charity. - Credit: Facebook/WakeHereward Project/Hereward Charity Challenge/Twitter/James Bowman

A charity challenge reviving the actions of Hereward the Wake was “a success beyond our dreams,” said one of the organisers.

Hereward, played by Lewis Kirkbride, and his Band of Men set foot for Ely on June 2, exactly 951 years ago after he launched an attack at Peterborough Cathedral. 

The group, led by Hereward, marched over 40 miles along the Hereward Way to raise funds for men’s mental health charity ManHealth. 

Historian David Maile, of the WakeHereward Project, said: “It was a success beyond our dreams. 

“The response we got from the Deans of both cities, Chris Dalliston and Mark Bonney, they were good sports helping us in the name of the history of Hereward.” 

Hereward the Wake charity challenge

Some of those who took on the over 40-mile trek between Peterborough and Ely as part of the Hereward the Wake charity challenge. - Credit: Facebook/Hereward Charity Challenge

James Bowman Fenland Flag Hereward

James Bowman led Hereward and his Band of Men with the Fenland Flag he created. - Credit: Twitter/Fenland Flag

Despite being reduced to four members on the second day of the trek, Mr Maile and the group reached Ely Cathedral just shy of 6pm, where they were greeted by regional media and spectators. 

The challenge has raised nearly £2,500 for ManHealth, and with most group members suffering injuries, David believes it was all worth it in the name of Hereward. 

He said: “We had to jump over ditches along parts of the Hereward Way which were blocked, so it was difficult finding a path at times. 

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“We were getting a lot of people waving at us and almost a standing ovation in Christchurch.” 

Hereward the Wake charity challenge 2021

Hereward on his way towards Ely Cathedral as part of the Hereward the Wake charity challenge. - Credit: Facebook/WakeHereward Project

Steven Payne, who stepped in for Lewis at the start of the trek, left with the Hereward Charity Challenge Trophy from Peterborough, which represents the gold and silver Hereward stole from the city’s monastery. 

Hereward then walked through the likes of March, Welney and Little Downham led by James Bowman with his Fenland Flag, before arriving at Ely Cathedral on June 3. 

Hereward the Wake charity challenge 2021

Hereward and his Band of Men heading towards Ely Cathedral. - Credit: Facebook/Hereward Charity Challenge

Mr Maile is looking to hold a similar event next year during Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and hopes more people can learn about one of Fenland’s historical figures. 

He added: “It was a great success highlighting Hereward as we got media attention and had his name at the forefront of people’s minds.” 

David Maile Hereward Charity Challenge Trophy 2021

Historian David Maile holds the Hereward Charity Challenge Trophy outside Ely Cathedral. - Credit: ITV

Hereward the Wake charity challenge 2021

Hereward and his Band of Men arrive at the gates of Ely Cathedral. - Credit: Facebook/Hereward Charity Challenge

Commemorations continued on Saturday when the Hereward Charity Challenge trophy was pushed in a medieval cart.   

There will also be a chance to learn more about this period in history on June 19, which has been coined Celebrate the Fens Day.  

Nigel Amos will perform the role of Abbot Turold, the Norman Abbot of Peterborough, who will pick up the trophy at Ramsey Abbey and transport it on horseback to Peterborough Cathedral.   

Leaving at 10am from the gatehouse, he will stop at Pondersbridge for an hour at 12noon before arriving at Peterborough Cathedral at 4pm.   

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