The launch event held at the Guildhall was attended by around 40 representatives from local councils, tourist attractions and churches. The Mayor of Sandwich, Cllr Jeremy Watts opened the event by offering his full support for the partnership.
Canon Mark Roberts, Rector of Sandwich St Clements thanked Sandwich town council for their input and added: “The churches of Sandwich are delighted to be chosen as the pilot project for this exciting initiative. Spiritual tourism can add a new dimension to visitors and local people and I hope this initiative will spread to other areas in the Diocese.”
Bishop Trevor talked about the lessons provided from our spiritual history. He said: “Our spiritual heritage reflects the essence of who we are as humans and our ability to care for others. Our buildings can provide an opportunity to see God and be known by God. They also provide us with an opportunity to learn from the past, particularly lessons of service to community.”
Local MP, Laura Sandys congratulated the partnership on pioneering the project, commenting: “We are guilty of not valuing enough our heritage in East Kent. From St Augustine to World War II our history defines the rest of the country. Our churches help tell this story and I am pleased this project will help build a greater understanding of religious faith in East Kent.”
‘Visit Kent’ Chairman and former High Sherriff of Kent, Mrs Amanda Cottrell summed up the speeches by speaking of the value of partnerships in growing the tourism industry in Kent. She said: “The passion behind this initiative is prevalent and our passion for Kent is the reason we are all here. Tourism in this county is worth around £4 billion each year and over 62,000 are employed in the industry. By working in partnership we can take seriously tourism and welcome people with open arms.”
Following the speeches, attendees enjoyed self-guided tours around the town, before ending their tours at St Clements Church, where Bishop Trevor offered final words and a blessing.
The Spiritual Heritage Partnership hopes to work in other villages and towns in Kent to illuminate aspects of the county’s history and strengthen the welcome offered to visitors and residents.
Further information from:
Emily Shepherd, Director of Communications, Canterbury Diocese 01227 459 401,
07876 210 446, firstname.lastname@example.org