Anna was a young helper when she travelled to Lourdes for the first time as a volunteer with Group 216: "Going to Lourdes with HCPT was such a life changing experience I will never forget; from the moment I first joined Group 216, I was instantly welcomed and felt like I had been part of the group for a long time. I was unsure as to what to expect on my first pilgrimage, however I didn't anticipate that it would be as emotional and rewarding as I found it! Love and laughter was everywhere. I find it admirable the amount of time and dedication the other volunteer helpers put in to make sure the trip is a success; through an enormous amount of fundraising and organising meetings for children and parents. I have unforgettable memories from Lourdes; I will cherish the friendships I have made, and hope to be a long-standing member of HCPT. What I wish I knew - how tiring the week was going to be and how attached I would become to the group!"
Sarah travelled to Lourdes for the first time in 2011, as a young helper with Group 5: "My experiences with HCPT in Group 5 started in 2011, but I couldn't just do it once as my experiences have been amazing and something that I will remember forever. Being with Group 5 is what can only be described as, a huge loving family! There will not be a day in Group 5 whether it is during the week you are away, group meetings or fund raising events, you will always have a smile on your face. The experiences I have gained from being with Group 5 and being involved with HCPT are experiences like no other and when you have been once with HCPT, you will catch ‘The Bug’ and want to return again and again."
Marie came to Lourdes in 2012 for the first time, after watching her daughter volunteer with the charity for ten years: "2012 was my first experience as a helper with HCPT. Previously, I had followed the whole week on the internet and used to watch the trust mass in tears. I had numerous discussions about HCPT, and knew many people who had taken part in the pilgrimages at Easter, but none of this prepared me for how I would feel. After a week in Lourdes with HCPT, I now understand why helpers are so tired on their return. This experience was one of the most amazing, rewarding, spiritual weeks in my whole life. I went through numerous emotions, which I never expected. I loved being in Lourdes with HCPT and I personally felt we became a large extended family. Every meeting we had before we went was extremely helpful for me, my child, their family and the whole group. Initially, I said I would go to Lourdes as a helper once. However as the week progressed and by the time I had experienced mass in Gavarnie I was hooked and knew I would love to go again. I had definitely caught the 'Lourdes Bug.' I learnt so much in that week about disabled and disadvantaged children and I now understand why helpers come back tired, but hey, who needs sleep?! It was a wonderful experience and one I felt very privileged to be able to be part of. I will definitely be returning year after year!"
Are you a volunteer helper who would like to share their experience of Lourdes and HCPT? Please email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
"HCPT is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I think everyone should experience"
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