By coracle, in search of a miracle: the vicar who's paddling her protest to the G8

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The Independent Online
A VICAR sets out on an historic - and historical - voyage today to confront Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and other world leaders with evidence that Western economic policies are causing grinding Third World poverty, writes Christopher Mowbray.

Dr Jeni Parsons (above) decided to make her protest at the G8 Summit by paddling her coracle - for 27 miles along a canal built 200 years ago.

Her journey starts in her Worcester parish with a Communion service on the canal bank and a blessing from the Bishop of Worcester, the Right Rev Peter Selby. It will end on Saturday in Birmingham behind the International Convention Centre where the Summit is taking place.

In between, Dr Parsons will have been paddling the circular ancient-british fishing vessel - made from cowhide and hazel - at a sedate one mile per hour through 50 canal locks. For safety reasons, she is being given a tow through a three mile-long tunnel.

"It is not easy paddling a coracle and this seemed like a good way of drawing attention to the plight of people enslaved by international debt," said Dr Parsons.

"Also, the canal is the most direct route between my parish and the ICC.

"Many countries will never get out of debt by themselves because they are facing an impossible burden. They can hardly even service their loans let alone repay them."

During her journey, she is being given free board and lodging by local church groups in return for talking about coracling which she first took up two years ago after reading about a craftsman who makes the vessels. On arrival, she will join a 35,000 strong human chain round the ICC being organised by the Jubilee 2000 Coalition.

Shaming of the G8, page 10