Group 718 is a service group and part of the Met East Region of HCPT.

Each Easter twelve volunteer students from St John Payne School, Chelmsford, travel to Lourdes to assist children’s groups and the smooth running of the pilgrimage.

Students raise their own fares in a variety of ways.

Our group has been running since 2008.

All members of the group must be students at St John Payne School in Years 12 or 13.

I have gained a better knowledge of other peoples needs, hopefully standing me in better stead for a future in the NHS. As well as this I have gained memories that I shall never forget from such an enlightening trip, memories which I hope the children will have gained also. It has allowed for me to gain some skills and experience in caring for those with special needs. — Joe 2018

The group of children we took were able to have a week away from home, allowing them to explore a new country. Which for some of them was the first holiday away from home, and parents. This helped them all to grow an independence from their family and form new friendships with their peers and the helpers. A lot of the children came out of their shells and developed their social skills, which meant they became a lot more confident throughout the course of the week. This was a great feeling to see and be a part of as it showed how the children had really warmed to those around them and made myself realise what I was doing was really worthwhile, giving a great sense of satisfaction. — Mia 2018

Personally, my week in Lourdes has acted as a real eye opener, as it now encourages me to see life through a different perspective and fully appreciate the difficulties regarding living with someone with additional needs. It was particularly inspiring to witness the leaders in Group 13 who devote their time yearly to take these children to Lourdes and prepare a week which will be one in which neither the children or leaders will be able to forget. Lourdes has taught me the importance of appreciating everyone regardless of their age or needs, and this is something which I will live by throughout everyday life. — Orla 2017