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Let me tell you a little about HCPT Group 72.. this is a an appeal that was given at our Church on Palm Sunday just before we went off to Lourdes 

Who or what is HCPT, you might ask ? Over 10 years ago, Cardinal Basil Hulme once described the HCPT as the Catholic Church’s best kept secret.

The initials were  The Handicapped Children’s Pilgrimage Trust  -- but the Charity continues to do today what it has done for over 56 years; take sick, disadvantaged and handicapped children for a weeks holiday to Our Lady’s Shrine in Lourdes at Easter time.

Dr Michael Strode who first took 5 wheel chair bound boys to Lourdes back in a 1954 wanted to give them a happy fun filled holiday. They stayed in a proper Hotel, none of the usual dormitory digs for them. A week away from their parents with young friends. Taking in all the religious side of Lourdes along with a trip to the Pyrenean Mountains he wanted to provide for these special children a unique opportunity where faith, great care and a foreign holiday all came together. 

Since Dr Strode’s first trip the H C P T Pilgrimage has grown and about 1,300 children will be travelling to Lourdes in what we call ‘Family Groups’. This Easter we are taking a modest 12 children who are looked after by voluntary helpers, a group Nurse, our Group Chaplain, Fr Jude Harrison and our long serving Group Leader, Louise 

As in previous years we enjoy children’s masses and liturgies, visit the places of prayer associated with St Bernadette & Our Lady: the ‘Trip Count’ has grown since 1954  -  as well as the Pyrenean Mountain -  we also visit Bartres, have a day at the sea-side near Biarritz and another to a children’s Zoo. We enjoy visits to cafes for sings-songs, drinks and scrumptious French Ice Creams. This year our Fancy Dress Party will have a Royal Wedding flavour as they will both occur on the same day. 

“Do you see any Miracles when you are in Lourdes?” is a question people have asked us. I think the first ‘Miracle’ of HCPT Group 72 is that parents of children suffering from Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Albinism, Epilepsy, Downs Syndrome to mention some of the conditions of this years children have actually entrusted their precious children to us. 

We hold 7 ‘bonding’ meetings with the families and helpers before we go and gradually the trust, understanding of the children’s needs and friendship grows into the new family of HCPT Group 72. 

At the first of our Party Meetings in October each of the children planted a flower bulb. By the time we get to the final Meeting on Palm Sunday, the bulbs will have grown into a garden of flowers just as the Group will have grown in understanding, care and affection. 


Miracle Number One. 

Last year one of our wheelchair boys, told me on the coach on the way to the se-side that he had never been in the sea in his life. Well, !!! we have some strapping male helpers in our Group, and they soon had Jins and his wheelchair skimming down the 100 yards of sand to the water’s edge and………….. whoosh.. into the sea … not too far .. but enough for him to splash water over himself and everyone else… “I’m in the sea” he cried out with joy.


Miracle Number Two

Another little boy was as quiet as church mouse during the meetings, so much so, that some helpers wondered if he was dumb. Well, whatever happened to him in Lourdes, by the end of the week, we couldn’t keep him quiet.


Miracle Number Three 

On another evening in Lourdes the 86 year old Founder of HCPT, the one and only Dr Michael Strode, came to join us for dinner and night prayers. He is now Brother Michael Strode, as he has joined the Cistercian Community on Caldey Island. Louise invited him to come and meet our children and he was an absolute star with them. He brought all the children & helpers a Cistercian Prayer Teddy Bear to remind us in his words “to pray everyday” and he asked the children to sing “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic song” with him as a promise that they would say their prayers. More so for the helpers this certainly was a Miracle Evening. 

This Easter the theme for our Trip this year is “Praying with Bernadette” and part of our promise to you is that we will pray for you and yours in Lourdes. Bernadette was a sickly teenager who was blessed to personally see and pray with Our Lady 18 times in the Grotto cave. Ask people to do “Penance, Pray and Come here in Procession” were some of the requests Mary put to the young girl. These things we will do for ourselves and for you. Bernadette never recovered from her chronic chest illness, no physical miracle for her,  and she died racked in pain in her 30’s; but her miracle included the treasured memories of time spent with Mary as well as seeing 1000’s of pilgrims coming to Lourdes. 

With your help and kindness the 12 children we are taking this year will experience the simple miracle of the love, happiness and time we share together.  

One of the children going with us this year is a Moslem boy that Father Jude knows very well. He and his family are thrilled to bits that he can go. From his own beliefs he is familiar with places of Pilgrimage, with a deep practice of personal prayer, fasting and the goodness of God. In previous years out Hotel chief chef, who is also the Hotel Proprietor, has catered for our Gluten Free or vegetarian needs, so I am sure he can knock up plenty of Halal food. An easy miracle. 

We know that people’s wallets and purses have less in them these days, but we know from years of taking different children to Lourdes that this is a holiday of a life time for these very special children. It actually cost £710 for each child; and that is just for the flight and accommodation; we still have to find lots more for the trips, presents and extra treats we give to them.

 As you leave church our Helpers will hold buckets for your love and kindness and there are Candle Sheet Forms upon which you can write down your names and names of family and friends. We will take the sheets to Lourdes and have them on the Altar to remember you all at Mass. In this way you and your family will be praying with Group 72 and Bernadette in Lourdes this Easter. 

Should you know of any child who you think would enjoy this holiday in a future year, then please speak to Louise or any of the helpers after Mass.

 And at least for yourselves, the words of Cardinal Basil Hulme, have been overturned, HCPT is no longer a ‘Best Kept Secret. 

Click HERE for over 100 pictures of this years trip.

As described by the local newspaper. Translation provided by Google...

It has been 30 years since the group down to 72 HCPT Hotel Notre Dame de France Lourdes Avenue Peyramale. This year, the group comprising 39 people led by Father Jude Harrison and Louise whose dedication is exemplary, led in the Marian city a dozen children with disabilities. To mark the event which has attracted the whole world, they transformed this Saturday morning the establishment of Mr. and Mrs. Imbert into a mini "Buckingham Palace ". The entire royal family was represented. Phoebe was in the role of Kate, Jack in the Williams.