Group 101

HCPT Group 101 is a charity based in Doncaster that raises money to take local children with special needs on holiday to Lourdes in France every Easter. In total, over 5,000 people from all over the world join the HCPT Easter pilgrimage.

HCPT 101 group leaders Phil and Margaret Hall took over the group in 1995, and their tireless work has enabled dozens of local children to enjoy a life changing pilgrimage holiday, Group 101 has fantastic helpers and their dedication and commitment to raising funds is rewarded with a wonderful week in Lourdes at Easter.

Group leaders Phil and Margaret
HCPT Doncaster Group 101 was formed in 1978 by Jim Lally, and he was soon followed as group leader by Paul Hutchinson. To this day Paul is still a helper with 101 and is also involved with the Yorkshire Region.  Ellen McLaughlin was the next group leader and she raised funds and took children to Lourdes until she retired as group leader in 1994.

Former group leaders Paul and Ellen
Our Lourdes pilgrimage begins on Easter Saturday. We travel by coach to Manchester airport and fly to Lourdes-Tarbes airport. We arrive in Lourdes and check into the Hotel Jeanne D’Arc on Easter Saturday afternoon.

Hotel Jeanne D'Arc
Our week in Lourdes is busy and filled with activity, yet there is also time to reflect. The grotto is the place where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette and we touch the smooth rock and see the spring as we walk through the grotto. We light candles and say a prayer for the group and for people back home. 

The Grotto
We travel by coach to Gavarnie in the PyreneesGavarnie is a UNESCO world heritage site renowned for its beautiful landscapes. The views of the mountains are breathtaking and we celebrate mass, eat together and play games on the field. The weather can be glorious sunshine or heavy snow in Gavarnie so we go prepared for anything. After a drink and a sing-song in a cafĂ© we head back on the coach for our evening meal at the hotel.

We sometimes travel by coach to the seaside towns of St Jean de Luz or Biarritz and have a picnic and play games on the beach.

Group 101 at St Jean de Luz

On Thursday we get up early and after breakfast we go to the underground basilica for the Trust mass. Every member of HCPT from all over the world come together and we celebrate a mass that is unlike any other.

There are lots of other activities in Lourdes during our pilgrimage. When the sun is shining we play on the prairie, we celebrate mass, we have sing songs in the cafes, we have a ride on the petite train, walk the stations of the cross, have an opportunity to visit the Lourdes baths and lots more!

Before leaving for home, we say three Hail Mary’s at the statue of the Blessed Virgin to ask that we will return to this special place. It is then time for us to catch the plane home and return to our families. After a short rest we start preparations for next year!

This really just touches the surface of what a week in Lourdes with HCPT Group 101 is like. It isn't possible to accurately put into words the friendship, joy, fun and love that makes the group what it is. It is something you have to experience for yourself!