Sidmouth teenagers set for Lourdes trip

PUBLISHED: 13:13 30 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:24 17 June 2010

A SELL-OUT concert helped teenagers from Sidmouth and its surrounding areas pass their fundraising goal on Saturday, meaning they can pack their bags for an Easter trip to Lourdes.

A SELL-OUT concert helped teenagers from Sidmouth and its surrounding areas pass their fundraising goal on Saturday, meaning they can pack their bags for an Easter trip to Lourdes.

The gig, in a packed St Teresa's Hall, was organised by Sidmouth couple Steve and Brigid McEleney-Smith's new HCPT Westcountry Youth Group and raised £477.

The cash will help 13 15 to 18 year olds from Sidmouth, Newton Poppleford and Sidbury travel as helpers with the HCPT Pilgrimage Trust, which takes children with special needs to the French town.

Guitar teacher Steve, who set up the youth group with his wife in July last year, said: "Saturday night saw one of our last main fundraisers before the trip. The gig was a sell out and excellent performances by the bands help to make this quite a special evening."

Sidmouth teens Jack Curtis and James Swain played a lead role in organising the concert before their band, The Phantom Jams, took to the stage along with Take Back the Planet, a group of students from The King's School, Ottery St Mary, and Exeter's Count to Fire. All the bands waived their performance fees.

Youth Group members also got the chance to show off their new bright orange rugby shirts - complete with a tractor on the back.

Set up in July last year, Steve and Brigid's Youth Group has encouraged the teenagers to raise cash for their £689 fares.

Other fundraising exploits have included a sponsored hair cut, barn dance, supermarket collection, boxing day swim, and a sponsored walk from Lyme Regis to Sidmouth.

HCPT - The Pilgrimage Trust has taken children with special needs on a pilgrimage to Lourdes for more than fifty years, growing to allow 2,000 children with disabilities to make the trip every Easter.

Steve said the experience will be invaluable for teenagers and added: "Some may want to go back in the future as helpers with the children's groups and other may never go again but one thing is for sure, the beauty of helping children with special needs in Lourdes will stay with them for the rest of their lives."

Brigid reserved a special thank you to the numerous organisations and groups who have backed their bid, saying their support had been "overwhelming".


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