HCPT - The Pilgrimage Trust was formed in 1956 after a young doctor, Michael Strode, first took four children with disabilities on a Pilgrimage holiday to Lourdes and at the same time revolutionised the way children with disabilities could experience a trip to this famous international shrine in the foothills of the French Pyrenees.
Not content with letting the children stay in the usual hospitals and hospices, Dr. Michael wanted them to stay in hotels as honored guests and to get as much out of their holiday as other children - trips to cafes, a donkey ride in the mountains and the warmth and affection of a holiday amongst caring friends.
Now, HCPT takes to Lourdes almost 2000 children from the UK, Ireland and increasingly from other countries. The children have a wide range of physical and mental disabilities, or are physically and emotionally deprived or neglected. Cared for by voluntary helpers, including doctors, nurses and chaplains, most of whom pay for themselves, the total size of the Easter Pilgrimage is now about 5000; the largest pilgrimage from the UK and Ireland and probably the largest children's pilgrimage from any country.
The holiday pilgrimage is naturally centered around the international shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes and gives children, aged 7-18, with many types of disability or special needs, the opportunity to experience a really stimulating and highly enjoyable group holiday. From HCPT grew the Hosanna House Trust, which was the response to a request from young adults for an opportunity to experience a similar holiday to that of the children.
Today, Hosanna House, the Trust's residential centre just outside Lourdes in Bartrès, takes nearly 2,000 pilgrims in groups of 40 to 50 , many of whom have disabilities or special needs. These guests stay for a week between Easter and November.