A CYCLIST who has pedalled thousands of miles for his parish churches has raised £100,000.

Jim Bennet, 85, completed his final 100-mile sponsored ride along Devon’s Tarka Trail with the aim of achieving the watershed amount.

Over 28 years, Jim’s steady fundraising has helped to maintain the fabric of churches in his home village of Pillaton and nearby St Mellion.

And while he doesn’t wish for any fanfare, his sustained commitment has been recognised with praise from Cornwall’s church leaders.

“Every parish needs a Jim!” said Archdeacon of Cornwall, the Ven Kelly Betteridge. “His efforts in support of his local churches have been astonishing, and demonstrate what a difference each person can make when they give their time and commitment to their community.”

Meanwhile The Rt Revd Hugh Nelson, Acting Bishop of Truro, said: “Jim’s selfless generosity is an inspiration to us all. I hope he enjoys his well-deserved retirement from fund raising!”

Jim, who acted as treasurer on the St Mellion with Pillaton Parochial Church Council for 32 years, still volunteers his time to keep the outdoor spaces tidy. While he won’t be doing any more official fundraising, he says the gardening will probably keep him fairly busy.

“The first marathon was in 1996, and the first bike ride in 2005,” he said. “Now that the mythical figure of £100,000 has been generously donated by the residents of the parish, I will resume normality.

“But to be honest, the whole project has been so much fun, from running 16 marathons to a relaxed ride up the Tarka Trail. Not least, the bike rides have been in the company of my son Richard, and several other close friends.

“In this fast growing season, I am probably putting in as many hours gardening in our two churchyards, as I might otherwise have spent plodding round the parish, so whilst the pace has slackened, the work will go on!”

The fundraising account will remain open until the end of 2024, says Jim, and anyone wishing to support should make a BACS payment to: St Mellion with Pillaton PCC, Sort Code 309668, Account no 01024709, Ref Bike Ride.