Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 11.45.56STUDENTS are making a landmark pilgrimage to France to help people with disabilities visit a holy shrine.

The Easter journey to Lourdes will have added poignancy for students at Carmel College, Darlington, as they remember the former head of sixth form who organised the first trip 20 years ago and a Year 11 pupil, both of whose lives were claimed by cancer.

But in celebration of the memories of teachers Colm Doyle, Brian Hunter and student Joseph Mercer the party of 46 will dress as Disney characters as they help disabled pilgrims achieve their goal.

This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the foundation by Dr Michael Stroud of a charity dedicated to organising Lourdes pilgrimages.

Students have been raising funds for the venture for months including organising a host of coffee mornings.

To set the mood they have also just visited the ancient shrine of Our Lady of Mount Grace at Osmotherley, near Northallerton.

Lay chaplain Andrew Gardner said: “Colm, Brian and Joseph will be in our thoughts as we travel to Lourdes for the week and the trip will be a celebration of their lives.

“The students are really excited and have thrown themselves into fundraising towards the cost of the trip and we have had some wonderful donations from other churches in the town.”

Students splashed out again to raise more money for charity. A Splashathon relay race was staged at the college in aid of the Cafod Water Appeal, which helps educate children in under-developed nations who can’t attend school as they spend their days collecting water.

A host of Easter food packs were also collected by students and their families for the local food bank.

“This is such a busy time for us, such a significant period, where we double our efforts to help others less fortunate than ourselves,” said Mr Gardner. “Our students have risen to the challenge wonderfully capturing the true spirit of what makes this school so special.”