Priest’s epic cycle to recoup scammed parish funds

Father Patrick Baker getting some practice in ahead of the big challenge.
Father Patrick Baker getting some practice in ahead of the big challenge.

A local priest is to undertake a gruelling 100 miles cycle through Inishowen to help recoup some of the £86,000 in parish funds which was stolen in an internet scam.

Proactive priest, Fr Patrick Baker, from the Banagher parish in County Derry, is hoping local people will sponsor him ahead of the epic ‘Inishowen 100 Challenge’ on August 19 and he has issued an open invitation for any keen cyclists who wish to join him, to get in touch.

Fr Baker said the scam back in December last year had caused a lot of upset for the local community.

A heartless fraudster, posing as an engineer, had contacted the local parish and claimed their broadband had been hacked and was under attack. The conniving scammer told the local priest he would need remote access of the computer to fix the problem, but instead stole the money.

Fr. Baker said the money had been saved up by the parish for the upkeep and repair for the three churches in the area - St Joseph’s in Banagher, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s, Foreglen and St. Mary’s in Altinure, Park.

Now the parish is hoping it can make inroads into the task of replenishing their coffers through Foyle Cycling Club’s annual, award-winning challenge, with sets off from the Templemore Sports Complex in Derry.

Fr Baker said: “We suffered a scam and were caught off guard and people were upset about it. We were thinking what can we do to build the fund back up again? So far there is another fellow and myself and anybody that wants to join us is welcome.”

And Fr. Baker, who last year undertook the 60 mile Inishowen Challenge, is hoping the weather will be a fair few degrees lower than the baking heat currently being experienced across the region by the time the event comes round.

“I was out this morning and it’s a big effort. We have six weeks and we are getting the training in now.”

The Inishowen 100 last year won the Cycling Ireland Sportive Event of the Year and the route, which follows the coast around the scenic Inishowen Peninsula, is renowned for both its beauty. Foyle Cycling states: “The 100 miles provides a rewarding experience through some of the most beautiful coastal views in Ireland. But be warned, this is a challenging event and should only be attempted by cyclists who have trained for this type of distance and terrain.”

For further information on the event, check out: www.foylecycling.net/inishowen100/

*Sponsor sheets for Fr. Baker are available at the three churches in the parish.