The Pilgrim's Tale!

The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary plays host to visitors of many nationalities, cultures, religions and professions throughout the year and the huge diversity of visitors is united by an interest in conservation and, particularly, a love of owls.

This week we were surprised but thrilled to welcome two pedestrians who had made their way from Dunwich on their Lenten progress to Bury St. Edmunds: two bishops arrived at the sanctuary on Tuesday for a short respite, to rest their feet and to find out what we do!

The Rt. Revd. Martin Seeley, Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich and the Rt. Revd. Dr. Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich are walking 70 miles across the county during Lent to meet communities face to face and discover the huge assortment of challenges that they face daily.

The bishops are inviting members of the public to walk with them during their 11 day pilgrimage and will visit schools, youth groups, farms, businesses, churches and pubs en route. They felt this was an ideal way to celebrate their first Lent in office together and wish to spend time with farmers, villagers and people from all walks of life at a leisurely pace, even if it is only for a couple of miles.

As Bishop Martin explained: “We will be walking together with people, learning of their gifts and talents and listening to their needs and hopes.” The bishops visited the sanctuary as it was a destination neither had been to before and they both wished to learn something about the centre’s birds, our conservation work, the wild owl nestbox scheme and the activities of the raptor hospital.

Bishops Martin and Mike are introduced to Titch & Pippin by falconer Jess.

Falconers Harry and Jess were happy to take time out of their work schedule to introduce the bishops to Pippin the Barn Owl and Titch the Tawny Owl - young birds who arrived at the sanctuary at the same time last year and quickly established a close bond. It is hoped that once their training is complete, their close friendship will mean that Pippin & Titch may be flown as a pair in daily flying displays - an unusual but endearing sight.

Each leg of the bishops’ pilgrimage will begin and finish with prayer and apart from the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary and Stonham Barns, the bishops schedule includes Westleton Chapel Bookshop, Aspall’s Cider, Yoxford Antique Centre and Emmerdale Farm Shop in Darsham. Having set out on 1st. March from Dunwich Beach, bishops Martin and Mike will finally rest their weary feet at Bury St. Edmunds Cathedral on 11th. March - do look out for them on their progress and offer support with just a wave or by walking a mile or so with them.

As Bishop Mike pointed out: “…travelling on foot is a great way to spend time getting to know more of the county and the good work which is going on in churches, schools, farms, local businesses and the wider community. As bishops, a key part of our role is being out and about.”