Banbury student carries a 'symbol of survival and hope for the future' on a pilgrimage from Bristol to the Cop 26 Climate Conference in Glasgow

A Banbury student is nearing the end of an arduous trek from Bristol to Glasgow carrying a Gingko sapling - on a climate change mission.

By Roseanne Edwards
Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 4:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 4:58 pm

Michael Vere, 18, of Middleton Road heard about the Camino to Cop walks from London and Bristol to the Cop 26 - the 26th UN Climate Change Conference - being held in Glasgow from October 31 - November 12. A Camino is a traditional Spanish 'way' or route.

He said: "I first heard about the Camino to Cop pilgrimage in my local Banbury Extinction Rebellion Group and decided to join it. I took the train to Bristol to join the western arm of the pilgrimage and we started out on September 9.

"The Gingko tree wasn't really my idea. Originally, it was the idea of another pilgrim Mick Sherwood, who walked from Hereford. He had to leave at Stourport so he gave me the tree to carry. He chose the Ginko tree because it's a symbol of survival and hope for the future. It has existed for 200 million years and has survived mass extinction events such as that of the dinosaurs. And so it's a very hardy, sustainable tree,"

Former Chenderit School pupil Michael Vere is pictured on the Camino to Cop with his Gingko sapling

"The idea of a pilgrimage appealed to me. I was thinking about what I could do next, spiritually, in my Christian journey. I think it's important, the spirituality of the pilgrimage, combined with its care for the planet. So it really appealed to me," said the former Chenderit School pupil.

The two pilgrimages, from London and Bristol, will merge and are due to arrive in Glasgow on the opening day of the conference, October 31. Today (Tuesday) they left Lesmahagow and are walking towards Kirkmuirhill.

"It has been a long journey from Bristol, via Birmingham. We're now in Scotland and I've seen many parts of the country, different cities, towns, villages, farms, and countryside and different terrains and more lately some really wild areas, in very different weathers," said Mr Vere.

"But it's not just about walking through beautiful scenery, it's about being with a community that's grown very close as a result of walking together and sharing our ideas on life and on the climate crisis and our hopes and fears for the future. Everyone has their stories to tell. And that's been really meaningful and has given me hope for the future. It gives me hope that there are people who do care, and who are prepared to prioritise the planet.

The intrepid walkers before setting off on another leg of the hike from Bristol to Glasgow

"We stay in different places each night and have been made to feel very welcome by all the local communities we have spent time with. It is amazing to see the love people can show and how interested they are in what we are doing and why.

"I think we've inspired people along the way. People can see this group of sometimes strange looking people coming through their community and wonder who we are but soon understand that we care deeply about the planet and that we want to inspire people to take action themselves to tackle the climate crisis."

Mr Vere said he hoped the walks would help change people's perspectives and bring about necessasry change. He said he felt it was important for every person to play a small part to contribute to change.

The Bristol to Glasgow contingent of the Camino to Cop reaches Scotland. Michael Vere has his Gingko sapling at his feet