Volunteers represented the CSJ with a stall at Reading Water Fest 2023 on Saturday, 10th June.

Thames Valley Regional Group members, Mark Lyford, Sally Hitt, and David Sinclair helped with our stall.  It was a gloriously hot day and they received lots of visitors, some of whom were amazed that a Camino starts in Reading.  They gave advice, and handed out flyers, along with an Association of Local Councils of the Camino Inglés (ACCI) sponsored tote bag, bandana, and guide to everyone who expressed an interest in walking the St James’ Way.

At the back of the gazebo the stall had an excellent backdrop of a scallop shell and Santiago Cross.  It was sited in South Transept of Reading Abbey beside other historic and heritage groups in Reading.  Mark’s fully stamped credencial, Sally’s brilliant photographic account of her Camino Portuguese pilgrimage and the Camino route maps attracted great interest.

They met the incumbent Mayor of Reading, Tony Page; Reading Borough Council CEO, Jackie Yates; former Mayor, David Stevens; Empress Matilda, who brought the ‘Hand of Saint James’ to Reading from Germany for her father, Henry I, and Mary Boleyn, a maid-of-honour to Queen Elizabeth I (although we can’t find evidence of this verbal fact – however amongst other exploits, she was reportedly a mistress of Henry VIII and the sister of Anne Boleyn, one of Henry’s wives). 

Last but not least, they also met early in the morning after his reception with Fr. Chris Heaps at St James Church, Reading, a Camino pilgrim setting out along the St James’ Way.  He had recently returned from the Camino Francés and was eager to get on the Way again.

Reading Borough Council hold Water Fest every year on the second Saturday in June.  Next year will you be the pilgrim at this event starting out on your St James’ Way Camino in England?