SEAFORD: Latest pilgrimage to France - by taxi

Christopher McOustra outside the chapel in the forest at Domremy where, as a child, St Joan of Arc used to pray every Saturday. With him and his Newhaven taxi are Alain and Martine Olivier, who have spent the last 40 years restoring it to its original condition.
Christopher McOustra outside the chapel in the forest at Domremy where, as a child, St Joan of Arc used to pray every Saturday. With him and his Newhaven taxi are Alain and Martine Olivier, who have spent the last 40 years restoring it to its original condition.
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A SEAFORD resident has completed his 30th pilgrimage in as many years by travelling to France by taxi.

Christopher McOustra has regularly taken part in the overseas venture to honour both St Joan of Arc and St Thomas More.

The 83-year-old called on Newhaven Taxis to take him on the six-day round trip journey to Domremy in Northern France and cover around 1,000 miles.

The Crooked Lane resident said, “In the past I’ve made the trip by train and coach. But this time I thought, why not by taxi? I rang Jimmy Moxon at Newhaven Taxis and he said ‘‘Yes. Why not?’.

On day one they crossed the Channel from Newhaven to Dieppe and drove to Rouen where Joan of Arc was burnt to death on May 20, 1431. On day two they travelled to Domremy and during their stay Christopher, a reader at St Thomas More Roman Catholic Church in Seaford, visited the sites and scenes associated by the French with Joan of Arc’s success in conquering the British during the 100-years war.

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

The Seaford resident, who founded the Association of St Joan of Arc and St Thomas More in 1982 with the late Joan Chidson who lived in Alfriston, said, “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.

“One’s a woman, one a man; one French, one English; one a peasant girl, the other Lord Chancellor of England; one a virgin, one was twice married and with four children.

“But they are examples of people who didn’t knuckle under. They were both unjustly condemned and executed because of their beliefs. You couldn’t find two human beings so utterly different. I wanted to celebrate that difference.”