We asked HCPT’s group leaders to pass on their tips to help helpers get the most from their week in Lourdes this Easter. Here’s a bumper collection of them.

First things first

“Put the children first above everything else and you’ll have a fantastic week”

“Enjoy your time with the children in your group. They’re the ones you’ll miss the most when you get back.”

“Have fun. It’s a special life changing week!”

Before you go

“Bank sleep! Every HCPT pilgrimage is an unforgettable experience, but it is also a week that is filled with early mornings, busy days and late nights. So get as much rest as you can before you travel.”

“Ask family, friends and people in your parish for their prayer intentions and if they would like candles lit in Lourdes.”

What to pack

“Remember your EHIC card, passport, medicine and euros, addresses for postcards and spare batteries / chargers for cameras.”

“Pack comfortable shoes – there will be lots of walking. Take a raincoat – don’t think it’s going to be sunny all week because you are in the south of France.”

“Pack for all weathers and don’t think about fashion!” 

“Take comfy pyjamas, cuddly toy and your favourite shower gel (or whatever makes you happy!)”

“Take some throat lozenges and drink plenty of water as all the singing and talking means you may lose your voice.”

“Pack shorts. If it’s sunny, they’re great and if it rains there’s less material to dry!”

“Bring a good supply of chocolate for energy and to share!”

What not to pack

“Don’t bother packing a book or magazine for yourself – there’s no time to read it and you’ll only regret carrying it there and back!”

“Avoid complicated beauty regimes or posh clothes!”

Whilst you are there

“If this is your first trip to Lourdes with HCPT, cherish it. No one can explain in advance what it will be like, but it is literally life changing.”

“Pace yourself. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Remember it’s a week away with children who have energy to burn! Take time to relax so you can give and get the most all week.”

“Embrace the silliness, the fun and the laughter. Allow yourself to be silly, to cry, to laugh. Just enjoy it! Sleep whenever you can to keep up physically and emotionally.”

“Don’t push yourself too hard. Lourdes is the one place in the world you can be yourself and be accepted for it no matter what!”

“The hotel food is always edible, and sometimes pretty good. If all else fails the Jeanne D’Arc do awesome chips in the evening, but don’t try asking for cheese on top, they can’t understand what you mean, even if you speak perfect French.”

“Take lots of photos.”

“Be prepared to have a cry! It’s normal and you won’t be judged.”

The biggest family you will ever be part of

“Helpers in groups you have never met are your allies. They can be relied upon to corroborate whatever tall tale you are convincing your child of, to cooperate with selfies and to swap badges and pegs with. But if you need help, with wheelchair pushing, directions, first aid, battling the weather, managing French public toilets or anything else you can think of, then you don’t even need to ask. They’re all friends you just haven’t met yet. It’s the biggest family you will ever be part of. Although you’ll never be far from your own group members, but you can’t have too many friends, right?!”

“Take a moment during the Trust Mass to take in the view around you, all the HCPT Family together, under the one roof, a true expression of God’s love.” 

 “Never be afraid to ask for help.”

Get some you time!

“Take time for yourself during Mass, at the Grotto, and in the evening. It’ll make you a better helper to the kids.”

“When you are at the Grotto for the first time this Easter allow yourself a quiet moment to savour the atmosphere and listen to your heart!”

“Try to visit Our Lady in the stillness of the night. Those times at the Grotto have given me the most beautiful and peaceful moments I have had on this earth.”

When you get home

“Don’t make any plans for the day after you return – a lazy day at home is just perfect.”

Many thanks to everyone who sent us their ideas for this list. If you’ve got any tips of your own we’d love to hear them.