If you have driven through Starbeck recently you may have noticed a familiar face smiling down from a giant billboard.
Reverend Francis Wainaina of St Andrew’s Church, Starbeck and his wife Elaine currently appear on a billboard on Albert Place to promote their Zurich to Harrogate charity tandem ride which began yesterday.
Mr Wainaina said: “I have persuaded Elaine to cycle the full length of the river Rhine, and I have persuaded her to do it on a tandem!
“When we have done cycle rides in the past she has always stayed 500 metres behind me as sometimes I stop suddenly to take photos.
“This way we can have conversations along the way.”
He added: “It will be good for our marriage, if we run out of things to say we will just enjoy the scenery.”
Although this plan may be simpler for Mr Wainaina than for Mrs Wainaina who will be on the back of the tandem.
She said: “I won’t be able to see over his shoulders because I am quite small.
“One of the girls at the church has made me a periscope so that I don’t miss the views, it has little mirrors in and really works so I will have to take that with me.”
By opting to sit on the back of the tandem Mrs Wainaina has also relinquished control of the brakes to her husband.
He said: “She will have to trust me with that.”
“Like I said it will be good for our marriage,” he laughed.
The couple who married in Kenya in 1975 have developed a love of cycling over the years and cycled Lands End to John O’Groats in 2011.
They will cycle more than 900 kilometres along the length of the Rhine from Zurich to the sea at Rotterdam over 18 days.
The duo are hoping to raise funds for Starbeck community centre, which is currently being built along the side of St Andrew’s.
Work on the project began in November 2012 and the project is expected to be completed on May 22, less than a week after the end of the cycle.
Congregation member and project manager of the community centre Mike Langford said: “This is a fantastic way of raising money.
“All of us here at the church really admire him for doing this and look forward to hearing how it goes.”
You can sponsor the couple and follow their progress at www.teamfrancis.co.uk.
The communtiy centre: The story far.
The Church have been planning to build a community centre in Starbeck for years, work finally started in November 2012 after months of struggle.
Early in 2012 it seemed the work would be unable to go ahead after the government announced plans to begin charging VAT on building work to listed buildings in 2012, leaving St Andrew’s with a £90,000 bill.
However the church campaigned against this VAT bill, and it was removed meaning they could afford to go ahead with the project.
Around 70 per cent of the total cost of the work was raised by the congregation and the community.
Although building will be attached to, and has been funded by St Andrew’s Church, it will be for the whole community of Starbeck.
The centre is expected to open on May 22.