Taxi to France for Seaford pensioner to complete his annual pilgrimage

AGE IS just a number for one Seaford pensioner who has just completed a 1,000 mile round trip to Northern France in a Newhaven taxi.

Christopher McOustra, 83, from Crooked Lane, took the trip to Domremy, in Northern France, as part of his 30th pilgrimage in 30 years, in honour of St Joan of Arc and St Thomas More.

But the sprightly pensioner decided to take the trip to the birthplace of St Joan of Arc in none other than a Newhaven taxi.

Christopher said: “In the past. I’ve made the trip by train, by coach and by train and coach.

“This time I thought, Why not by taxi? I rang up Jimmy Moxon at Newhaven Taxis. He said, Yes. Why not? That was it.”

On the first day of the trip the duo crossed the channel from Newhaven to Dieppe and drove to Rouen where Joan of Arc was burnt to death on May 20 1431.

The following day they drove from Rouen to Domremy, where Joan of Arc was born in 1412.

Taxi driver Jimmy, who lives in Sherwood Road, Seaford, said: “It made a change from going backwards and forwards to Morrisons.”

Christopher said the cost of the taxi was ‘about half the price of a hamper from Fortnum and Mason.’

For the remainder of the pilgrimage Christopher, who is a Reader at St Thomas More Roman Catholic Church, Seaford, visited all the sites and scenes associated by the French with Joan of Arc’s success in conquering the British during the 100-years war, which dominated Anglo-French relations throughout the Middle Ages.

While in Domremy Christopher also visited the world famous Basilica dedicated to St Joan of Arc, where he was invited to speak to the French congregation from the pulpit.

Christopher, who founded the Association of St Joan of Arc and St Thomas More in 1982 with Joan Chidson continued: “Wherever I went people wanted to know why a special society for Joan of Arc and Thomas More.

“I kept telling them, Because they are such opposites. You couldn’t find two human beings who are so utterly different. I wanted to celebrate that difference.”

Now Christopher, who also spent many years making pilgrimages to places dedicated to St Thomas More, reckons he is ‘running out of puff’ and the trip to France could be his last pilgrimage.

He added: “We visited the place where he was born. We visited the house where he lived. We even had a special Mass in his memory in the cell in which he was imprisoned in The Tower of London.

“But now I’m beginning to run out of puff. This will probably be the last of my pilgrimages.”