Group set for worldwide event

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

A SMALL group of people are set for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to join the Pope and youngsters from around the world.

The group of five, all from Hartlepool, are just weeks away from setting out on a trip to Madrid for a 10-day pilgrimage to mark World Youth Day.

(left to right) Bernadette Malcolmson, Anne-Marie Lavelle and James Race pack their case for Madrid. Picture by FRANK REID

(left to right) Bernadette Malcolmson, Anne-Marie Lavelle and James Race pack their case for Madrid. Picture by FRANK REID

The trip will include a range of cultural activities in the city of Toledo where the group will stay with host families before moving on to Madrid to enjoy a packed schedule.

Bernadette Malcolmson, an ICT teacher at English Martyrs RC School and Sixth Form College, will join Anne-Marie Lavelle, chaplain at the school and former pupils James Race, Andrew Trueman and Tom Kitchen, all 19, for the unique experience.

They are set to travel next week with 20 others from the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.

The group will spend the first three days in Toledo before moving on to Madrid for the start of the World Youth Day celebrations.

There they will enjoy sessions and activities with worldwide groups before welcoming Pope Benedict XVI into the city.

The six-day event is brought to an end with a final Mass service attended by the Pope as well as thousands of youngsters, bishops and priests from around the world.

Bernadette, 26, who lives on the Headland, said: “It’s going to be an absolutely fantastic experience, we are all really looking forward to it now.

“There will be lots going on in Toledo for us to enjoy, lots of sports activities and concerts.

“Then we move on to Madrid to join the groups from the hundreds of other countries.

World Youth Day celebrations take place every three years.

The programme, which starts on Tuesday, August 16, also includes guided museum visits, exhibitions, plays and musical performances from the groups involved.

“It’s an amazing opportunity we have here,” added Bernadette.

“People from all over the world are going to be there and the Pope will come and address everyone.

“What an experience it is for the youngsters.

“This event doesn’t come round very often.”