A group of children are to visit France thanks to the generosity of fundraisers.
Hundreds of people attended a charity ball to raise money to take five disabled and disadvantaged pupils from St Thomas More RC Academy in North Shields and local primary schools to Lourdes during the Easter holidays.
The event was held at The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle, and raised funds for the school’s charity, Hosanna House and Children’s Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT).
Items were donated and auctioned throughout the evening, including everything from hotel stays to rugby balls, raising more than £10,000.
Lourdes, a popular pilgrimage destination in the south of France, is known for its Sanctuary featuring spring water that is said to have miraculous healing power.
The five pupils, aged between eight and 16, will visit Lourdes for a week-long experience thanks to the donations from the successful charity ball and a large donation from First Class Supply, a Whitley Bay-based supply teaching agency.
Anna Merchant, curriculum leader of business and IT at St Thomas More RC Academy, said: “For five years, First Class Supply has supported our chosen charity, HCPT, through sponsoring children to travel to Lourdes in France.
“Through its support and the generous donations from those who attended the charity ball, families are given much needed respite and recuperation time and the children themselves return with memories, confidence and a lasting impact on their lives.”
She added: “As a volunteer, mum and teacher, it is a privilege to see the children in our care flourish and grow in confidence, self-determination and reliance.
“It is beautiful to be part of the trip, which transforms lives on many levels.
“It is an honour when the child who has had trouble trusting adults puts their hand into yours and walks with you. It’s that feeling you get when the child who hasn’t been able to talk to anyone starts sharing their stories and ideas, or gives you a special look that you know the trip has made a difference.”
Lesley Robinson, director at First Class Supply, said: “We know how much this trip means to the pupils who attend Lourdes and St Thomas More RC Academy.
“The work that the school puts in to making sure the trip is unforgettable is simply amazing.
“Through our ongoing partnership, we are able to facilitate a rewarding, enjoyable experience for those who are less fortunate, giving them the opportunity to spend time with like-minded people.
“We can’t wait to hear all about the trip.”
To make a donation, you can donate online at www.gofundme.com/hcpt-group-36-amp-714