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© 2010 HCPT Group 71. Photographs used with permission. Charity Registration No. 281074 Registered in England as a Company Limited by Guarantee No. 1095198

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71

Website by Jo

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In 1956, a young doctor called Dr Michael Strode, who was working at Chailey Heritage School near Lewes, Sussex, took four children with disabilities on a pilrimage holiday to Lourdes. His ethos was simple: the children would stay in one of the many hotels in the town and not the hospital where up until now, anyone who had a disability and wished to visit Lourdes had to stay; the children would be part of a small family style group where they could spend their holiday among caring friends; the cost of the children's fares would be met by fundraising so that no child would be turned away for financial reasons.

When Doctor Michael returned home from that first trip to Lourdes, he realised that there must be many more children with disabilities who would benefit from a holiday to Lourdes and so HCPT was born. Now, over fifty years later, HCPT takes 2000 children on its annual holiday, from all over the United Kingdom and Ireland as well as other countries including America, Romania, Slovakia, Croatia and the West Indies. They are accompanied by 3000 volunteer helpers, travel on several chartered flights that leave the UK for Tarbes over Easter weekend and stay in one of over sixty Lourdes hotels that opens their doors to HCPT.

The trip may be larger than ever, and the costs go up every year, but some things have remained unchanged for over fifty years. Just like the groups who travelled in the early days of HCPT, groups today spend time visiting the Grotto of Lourdes, learning about the story of Bernadette, going to church and taking part in the torchlight procession. There is also plenty of time for drinks in pavement cafes, after dinner singsongs, day trips into the Pyrenees, picnics, donkey rides and making new friends. In 2006, 50th anniversary celebrations included a huge fireworks display and launching 5000 golden balloons, one for each member of HCPT in Lourdes at Easter.

All in all a holiday to Lourdes with HCPT is a very special week, for both children and helpers alike.
 

 

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The HCPT began with help from the parish of St Paul’s in Haywards Heath. The first chaplain was from Burgess Hill and St Joseph’s school helped with fundraising.  Chailey Heritage where Doc worked is a few miles up the road. Group 71 are proud to be based back in Mid Sussex.  A lot of our supporters have a long relationship with the Trust, and also the Leyden House Trust, Doc Strode’s other charity.
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