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Students and Staff from the School of Nursing and Midwifery care for the sick on a pilgrimage to Lourdes
On Saturday May 27th 2017, after a year of planning and fund raising, a group of 10 2nd year student nurses, 4 lecturers and our social media ‘guru’, Harriet, travelled for 25 hours by coach to care for the sick who were making their pilgrimage to Lourdes. This trip had been a leap of faith following a similar pilgrimage by one of the team in 2016.
We self-funded to meet the costs, raising money with cake sales, a ‘sleep rough’ on campus in the snow and charity fund raising meals. Prior to the trip, we attended several training events with the nursing team from the Birmingham Diocese; this included team building, training and an opportunity to explore the specific needs of our 2017 pilgrims.
Whilst in Lourdes we quickly adapted following our arduous journey and commenced our shifts. We worked alongside established ‘pilgrim’ nurses, many of whom had undertaken this trip annually for many years, freely giving their time and expertise to ensure the best experience for the pilgrims. It was quickly apparent that we were now part of this ‘team’. Lecturers worked alongside students as colleagues and we were so impressed with their skill, commitment and rapport with the pilgrims. Indeed, we couldn’t have been prouder of them!
The week comprised shifts, Masses, Stations of the Cross, a concert, anointing of the sick, a shift working in the baths, companionship and lots of laughs. A really great experience; the impact that the Keele students had on the pilgrimage even got a mention by the Archbishop at the final Mass. Paula Mitchell, Chief Nurse for the Diocese, said “It was great having you all as part of the team. They did you proud!” and Patricia Hartley, Nurse Specialist in Palliative Care from Cambridge said, “You and your team have been fabulous, a credit to Keele University School of Nursing”.
This will hopefully be the first of many opportunities to support the Birmingham Diocese with their annual pilgrimage; indeed, planning for 2018 starts now. Our students #didkeeleproud!