Walking through fire

The Bishop of Oxford joined over 50 people in a ‘firewalk’ on Saturday at the Oxford Rugby Club to raise money for two local charities.

The participants ran across coals heated to 1,200oC to raise money for SeeSaw, which provides grief support to young children and families, and Sobell House Hospice Charity, which supports the Sir Michael Sobell House Hospice in providing palliative care for Oxfordshire residents.

The Rt Rev John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, raised nearly £1,000 for Sobell House Hospice Charity, of which he is a patron. He said he had prepared through “prayer” and a two-hour “psyche-up” beforehand.

Jennifer McGivern, from Sobell House Hospice Charity, said: “SeeSaw originally approached us, and we decided to organise the event together. There were 30 places for each charity, and we definitely filled all of ours. There were probably between 55 and 60 people in total, and it was an absolute tremendous success.

“It will raise the charity’s profile and is also essential for raising funds. The Hospice costs £4m to run a year, and we provide 40% of those funds. It’s impossible to say at this stage what we will raise in total, but we are hopeful it could be as high as £5,000.”

“We approached the Bishop as he is a valued patron of the charity, and we’re enormously grateful to him and all the other participants for their bravery. Without the generosity of everyone who has donated, we wouldn’t be able to carry out the work we do. It will definitely be going in our annual calendar from now on.”

Bishop Pritchard told the BBC: “1,200o is six times higher than you normally have your oven, so it’s a bit alarming at the thought. But actually it is about being psyched up, and a bit of physics I think.”

Another participant said: “It felt a bit tingly. They say it’s different for everybody, but I just felt a tingle.”

Bishop Pritchard previously walked on hot coals when he was Bishop of Jarrow in Tyne and Wear. In 2011 he tweeted his progress along a pilgrimage around sites in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, and in 2010 took part in The Carbon Fast, which encouraged people to reduce their carbon footprint for Lent.