Hitchin priest shows solidarity as he rides to Paris via Dieppe for climate talks

Father Tom O'Brien, front row, second from the left, and his group in Dieppe. Picture: Patrice Aurou

Father Tom O'Brien, front row, second from the left, and his group in Dieppe. Picture: Patrice Aurousseau and Mireille Schohn - Credit: Archant

A cycling priest has shown solidarity with the French public in the wake of terrorist attacks by riding from his home town to Paris.

Father Tom O'Brien in Dieppe, Normandy. Picture: Patrice Aurousseau and Mireille Schohn

Father Tom O'Brien in Dieppe, Normandy. Picture: Patrice Aurousseau and Mireille Schohn - Credit: Archant

Father Tom O’Brien from Our Lady’s Catholic church in Hitchin is part of a 17-strong group of environmental activists from different Christian denominations who embarked on a cycling pilgrimage to the French capital at 5am on Tuesday

The group are making the 330-mile journey to Paris – via the port of Dieppe – to raise awareness of a UN conference on climate change which starts on Monday and runs until December 11.

Speaking to the Comet on Tuesday from the 14th century church of St Jacques in Dieppe, Father Tom said: “We see it as a pilgrimage to Paris to show solidarity with the people of France after the terrible attacks.

“We hope to get there today and plan to go to seminars about climate change – we expect positive decisions to be made but we won’t be demonstrating, as it is now forbidden under martial law.


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“We plan to cycle along the Avenue Verte which is a disused railway track converted into a pathway from Dieppe to Paris.

“A big thank you to all the people from Dieppe who will be putting us up for the night.”

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English teacher Patrice Aurousseau, who lives in Dieppe, said: “We welcome Father Tom and his friends to my town of Dieppe, and thank them for showing solidarity with France after the terrible events this month.

“As a former resident of Hitchin, I look forward to reading about Father Tom’s superb efforts in this week’s Comet.”

Cardinal Vincent Nichols – part of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, which includes Father Tom’s group – sent a message of support.

He said: “As you cycle from Dieppe to Paris, carry to our brothers and sisters in France our heartfelt solidarity with them after the horrific attacks.”

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