A CHESTER vicar is taking part in a 480-mile 'virtual pilgrimage' to raise vital funds for a children's cancer charity as well as community projects affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Father Steve Sheridan, of the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury in Parkgate Road, is aiming to raise £3,000 by completing the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Campostella in Northern Spain via a virtual route mapping app.

He will update the miles he has walked locally each day to work out how far along the route he has travelled, which he estimates will take three months.

Fr Steve has chosen to raise funds for CLIC Sargent – the UK's leading cancer charity for children and young people – having supported a number of families who had been affected by childhood cancer.

A small proportion of the money raised will also be divided amongst community projects affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Fr Steve said: "In my role as a local vicar I've had the enormous privilege of engaging with three families over the past year who have been battling various stages of childhood cancer.

"These boys – aged 5, 3, and 2 – and their families have been a huge inspiration to me, and I have sought to discover more about the work others do in supporting them, and about their illnesses and the challenges they face.

"Sadly, the two year old boy lost his battle in March, and I officiated at his funeral in church. When this walking challenge appeared, added to the challenges we face during lockdown restrictions, I felt that a journey involving lots of steps summed up the journey that families take, and it is providing an opportunity to carry the children's support a stage further forward.

"My journey will take three months, but these steps are a drop in the ocean compared to the many steps which those involved in caring for, and coping with cancer in children take.

"Please help me to make their journey a little more comfortable each day."

CLIC Sargent supported 153 families across Cheshire last year, providing vital support to children and young people with cancer, and their families, during the most difficult time of their lives.

The charity provides practical, emotional and financial support to the families of children and young people with cancer through teams of dedicated care and social workers.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, CLIC Sargent has seen demand for their support from families of children with young people increase dramatically. At the same time, their ability to raise money has been severely affected.

Joe Burns, CLIC Sargent’s fundraising engagement manager for Cheshire, said: "When cancer strikes young lives we fight tirelessly to limit the damage it causes beyond their health.

"We rely entirely on charitable donations to fund our vital work and so we can’t thank Fr Steve enough for his fantastic efforts.

"This is especially true in the current crisis we find ourselves in. Families of children with cancer need our help now more than ever, so the money raised will make a huge difference. Thank you to Fr Steve and to everyone who has donated."

To donate to Fr Steve’s virtual pilgrimage and track his progress visit https://bit.ly/2YnSinp