It has rested on the altar of saints and the graves of kings – but it was inspired by someone much closer to home – the US President, Joe Biden – who currently joins world leaders in Cornwall for the G7 summit.
Because here’s the thing about life. There’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be, that’s what we do for one another. And if we are that way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future. And we can still disagree. Joe Biden Jan 2021
The bronze sculptured baton which is currently being passed between every one of our Church of England cathedrals on the newly launched Cathedrals Cycle Route, has Joe Biden to thank for its inspiration and inception.
“Some days you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand.’
Called “Reaching Out’ it was created by 13-year-old Hannah Cutler who was asked to work on a brief to sculpt a baton specially for the relay to launch the Cathedrals Cycle Route which links every one of our 42 Church of England cathedrals for visitors on two wheels.
The sculpture needed to reflect the challenges we all have faced and continue to face due to the Covid pandemic, celebrate a spirit of togetherness, as well as reflect the grandeur and artistic heritage of our historic cathedrals.
Hannah’s concept was hands reaching out across the baton. Sculptured in bronze, the baton will be specially engraved with the words ‘Some days you need a hand…other days you are called to lend a hand’ – after listening to newly elected President Joe Biden’s first speech earlier this year.
Hannah, 13, is a Year 8 pupil at Royal Grammar School (RGS) Newcastle, and a keen artist and sculptor . She has been sculpting for several years under the tutorage of Northumbrian sculpture Ian Greensitt and has won several art awards and competitions which have seen her artwork displayed in space, on the international space station, and in Antarctica.
The baton, cast in bronze weighs 4lbs 9 oz and is strapped to the frame of one of the bikes on each leg of the 2,000 mile route, and is passed, Olympic style, from team to team as they cycle to each cathedral.
“I wanted the baton to represent life’s journeys and the times in life when we are called to lend a hand or need a hand, and his words just made sense of that for me.”
The Cathedrals Cycle route was launched from Newcastle Cathedral on May 30 in Cycling UK’s Bike Week with the first group of cyclists setting off on the first leg, to Durham Cathedral. Since then it has travelled to Ripon, York, Bradford, Wakefield, Sheffield, Lincoln, Southwell, Derby, Leicester, Peterborough, Ely, Norwich and will rest tonight in Bury St Edmunds.
This weekend it travels towards London going from St Eds, to Chelmsford and then on to St Albans before arriving at St Paul’s on Monday and travelling between Westminster Abbey and Southwark on that day.
The Cathedrals Cycle Route, is the brainchild of Shaun Cutler, Hannah’s dad, who worked with Newcastle Cathedral, the Association of English Cathedrals, Sustrans, Cycling UK and the British Pilgrimage Trust to design the 42 linked routes to help us all out of lockdown with opportunities for short cycle rides between cathedrals, new partnerships and fundraising for physical and mental well-being activities.
“The Cathedrals Cycle Route is about connecting our historic cathedrals and enjoying the spaces between them.
“Now more than ever, after a year of living with the coronavirus pandemic, this is a way to support people’s mental and physical health and promote the mission of England’s cathedrals through pilgrimage, wellbeing and heritage.”
The relay ride is a trailblazer, checking out all the new routes going from one cathedral to another passing on Hannah’s baton to different groups of cyclists at each cathedral who can join the ride for as little or as long as they like.
A group is expected to return to Newcastle Cathedral 42 days later (weather permitting) having cycled every Church of England Cathedral.
The relay ride will raise money for Cycling UK’s Break the Cycle appeal, which aims to improve people’s wellbeing through the charity’s community cycling clubs, activities and projects nationwide as well as individual cathedral’s chosen charities.