Your generosity was seriously appreciated by myself and my group - we were a bit short on fundraising so it helped loads, thank you so much.
My arrival in Lourdes was met by an overwhelming sense of being welcomed by other groups and by the locals in Lourdes. I hadn't met my family group (215) beforehand as they were from Leicester but any worries I had were whisked away by their obvious care and kindness which they all had for other helpers and children alike. I got to know most of the children quickly - they were curious to get to know me too!
I can't put into words how amazing it was to be a part of these children's lives in such a massive way and nothing compares to Lourdes; it's such a unique place and it sounds cliché but Lourdes is honestly one of a kind.
For one day of the trip, our family group (215) took the children to Gavarnie, a small village in the mountains not far from Lourdes. It's a truly beautiful place and everyone enjoyed mass on the green followed by a picnic lunch.
Mass was celebrated every day on the pilgrimage as we have so much to thank God for. The Easter Sunday mass was particularly nice; it's such a special day and to be able to celebrate mass in Lourdes was great.
Although my pilgrimage was for assisting the children, I was definitely rewarded with a fantastic experience and new lifelong friendships. I had been expecting the trip to be very similar to last year as this was my second time, but the new people and experiences really made it just as unique and special.
I hope to return to Lourdes in the future, but for now Lourdes and HCPT are two things, which will forever have a dedicated place in my heart.
Thank you again for your funding, it means so much. I would also like to thank the Roberts family for setting up such an amazing fund; they've helped so many people and made something great from an unavoidable tragedy. Our group prayed for Alistair in thanks and he is continually in our thoughts as we remember our pilgrimage.
I would enclose a picture of myself with my family group but safeguarding limits the distribution of photos and I would hate to disappoint any parents as I haven't asked their permission. I do have a picture of the West Country youth group (706) who I travelled with and I shall get that to you instead.
I hope this is helpful, and I can't thank you enough for ARMF's help.
On behalf of a large group of young volunteers from HCPT’s Group 215, 2016.