Friday 24th January is the last day of term for our two Step Into the Gap volunteers, Francis and Daisy. On Monday, they are travelling to Cambodia with CAFOD to learn about CAFOD's work in that country and experience first hand what life is like for some of the poorest people in the world. On the eve of their trip, Daisy has been reflecting on her gap year so far and the adventure to come.
We’ve been at St Mary’s for 4 months now, and the time has really flown by. It seems like just yesterday, we were arriving in Blackpool, meeting all the staff and students, and getting lost in the school building. Since then, we’ve really found our feet, and I feel like I’ve really grown as a person. It’s crazy to think that pretty soon we’ll be leaving, and starting a new adventure in Cambodia, miles and miles away.
We were given a really strange piece of advice about going on this trip: “Don’t worry if you don’t enjoy yourself while you’re there, you’ll enjoy it afterwards,” This first came across as really scary - what if we have a terrible time? But on reflection, I feel as though we shouldn’t be focussed on trying to cram fun activities into every minute, watch all the best sunsets, and swim in the bluest oceans. We should instead appreciate the different way of life in Cambodia, and build real relationships with the people that we encounter. I hope to come home with lots of inspiring stories of the people we’ve met, and how their lives have been improved by the work of CAFOD’s partners.
I feel extremely privileged to be able to go to Cambodia with CAFOD and to see what life is like for the communities we’ll be visiting. I’m especially looking forward to seeing how communities are coping with the environmental situation when we visit CAFOD partner, COCD’s forestry and agricultural projects in Phcek Chhrum and Tam Por villages.
This trip is right around the corner and no amount of research can really prepare us for what we’re about to see, and the completely different world we’ll be visiting, but I’m ready to give 100% and immerse myself in Cambodian life.
Last week, a fabulous group of 42 students from Y10 & Y11 went on retreat to Castlerigg Manor in the Lake District. It was a week of fun, laughter, walks, food and reflection in the wonderful surroundings of Keswick. The team of young volunteers at Castlerigg were fabulous- they helped us to get to know each other better, build up relationships and share about our lives and our faith journeys, as well as teaching us new songs, fun games and leading us on beautiful walks to experience fantastic views. Our group bonded fabulously, had a great time singing and dancing at the disco, and parted at the end of the week with a tear in the eyes of many of them. It was a truly special week full of memories that will last a life time. Huge thanks to Mr Allen, Miss Patten, Mr Jones, Mr Eccles and Daisy who gave up their time to share the week with us and helped us to learn and experience so much.
A trip to Stanley Park went out last Tuesday with Rainbows Group for the annual planting of snowdrops in conjunction with local primaries. The bulbs were planted in memory of Donna Curtis (Donna's Dream House), an ex-pupil of St Mary's. The Edward Dee Fund, another local charity who work to raise awareness around the dangers of meningitis and sepsis, donated the snowdrop bulbs.
The group were then treated at the Stanley Park Cafe to juice and cake, paid for by an extremely kind member of staff. A good day was had by all and special thanks to the team Stanley Park Cafe who made us feel so welcome.