A NEWPORT vicar and his wife have embarked on a virtual cycle around Britain - stopping off along the way to sample local delicacies.

Reverend Justin Groves and his wife Lucy are raising money to refurbish St Stephens Church in Pill by completing a virtual tour of Great Britain during Lent.

Using a borrowed exercise bike, the couple is visiting 18 different foodie locations on their 2,828 mile 'Great British Bike Off' challenge and then taking on the extra challenge of making the local speciality dish from that region.

The pair made haggis for when they reached John O'Groats, fish pie when they reached Grimsby, and will make Cornish Pasties for when they make it to Cornwall.


"We wanted to do something to raise a bit of money towards the refurbishment of St Stephens," said Rev Groves.

"I'm not much of a keen athlete. With lockdown we thought what would be possible, so came up the idea of the exercise bikes.

"It was my wife's idea as she loves cookery programmes.

"A friend set us some challenges in the kitchen and it's gone from there.

"Lucy's the mastermind in the kitchen. Some of it has been challenging already. I was apprehensive of eating haggis, when we got to John O'Groats, but it was delicious.

"Some of the church members have joined in making the stuff along with us.

"It's a bit of fun, but it's got a serious side as well."

St Stephens Church in Newport before (left) and during (right) the refurbishment. Picture: St Stephens Church.

St Stephens Church in Newport before (left) and during (right) the refurbishment. Picture: St Stephens Church.

Rev Groves has been the vicar at St Stephens (above) for four years, while also being the vicar at St Pauls in the city centre for 15 years.

"We are now one congregation," said Rev Groves. "So we've combined two very different churches and based ourselves in Pill.

"It's a fresh start for both churches, which is where the refurbishment came about.

"The pews have come out, and as of next week a new boiler and new radiators are going in.

"We see ourselves being a community church and being fully engaged within the community. We want the church to be a space the community can come in and feel comfortable.

"I think people focus on the challenges of Pill rather than the opportunities. There is some great work going on in Pill."

To find out more, or to donate, visit newportwestbenefice.churchsuite.co.uk/donate/fund/cdrdg5s1

So far, the couple have completed more than half of their route, while also passing the halfway mark towards their £10,000 target.

"One of my parishioners has suggested our next challenge should be a world tour," Rev Groves added.