Mrs Lesley Dowling

Charity details

CA - Glanfield Children's Group

Our founding story

The Glanfield Children's Group was set up in 1987 and named in memory of Father Frank Glanfield, a priest who was involved with the care of children with specific needs both in Lourdes and in England.

In 1987 a small group formed the first "Glanfield Group" as part of The Catholic Association Pilgrimage, which has been taking people to the shrine at Lourdes in France for over 100 years. Until 1987 most children taking part in the pilgrimage had been staying in the same hospital-style accommodation as adults, which wasn't really suited to them. The first "Glanfielders" had the vision of setting-up a group within The Catholic Association (C.A.) that was geared specifically towards the needs of children. Glanfield took children to stay in a hotel in Lourdes, and organised a programme specially for young people.

The group was founded by Eileen Diss and Mary Hodbay. Some helpers, such as Jo Fernandes (who led the group for many years), Nick Diss and Tony Martin, have been with us since the first group pilgrimage. The group is now led by a committee, with Fr. Tony Rogers (a priest from East Anglia Diocese) as Chaplain.

Nearly three decades later the Glanfield Group has taken to Lourdes hundreds of children with learning difficulties as well as chronic and terminal illness. We remain part of The Catholic Association, taking part in a pilgrimage every August. We continue to develop and are looking forward to a vibrant future!

Glanfield Today

The Glanfield Group welcomes children who are sick, disabled or disadvantaged, as well as some adults with learning difficulties. We go to Lourdes every August with The Catholic Association Pilgrimage, normally in the last week of August.

Aims of the Group
The aim of Glanfield is to provide both a holiday-pilgrimage for the children we accompany to Lourdes, and a much needed time of respite for their parents and carers, who are welcome to join the group if they wish (though several take the week as a time for well-earned rest and recuperation). The children we take usually have learning difficulties, or illness that is chronic or terminal. We also welcome the children's siblings and carers.

The Programme
Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage for 6 million people every year, and taking part in the religious celebrations in Europe's foremost Marian shrine is an important part of what we do. But that is only half the story, because our trip to France is also a holiday for the children we take. For many of the children we bring to Lourdes – some from deprived backgrounds – this is their first holiday abroad. Due to the skills and expertise of the helpers, the group is able to give the children experiences that their disabilities would not usually permit, such as swimming, bowling, arts and crafts, trips to the zoo, and fun and games in the Pyrenees. As well as saying our prayers we also have a lot of parties!

We travel to Lourdes as part of The Catholic Association pilgrimage, a registered charity. We travel to Lourdes the last week in August. Most of us travel together by air from London Stansted airport.

Accommodation and facilities
The group stays in a modern, well-equipped hotel called The Mediterrannée. Each child is under constant supervision. There is a registered nurse on duty at all times and a doctor is always available. We are able to organise specialist diets and get access to medical equipment.

The Glanfield Children's Group has a Roman Catholic basis, but we welcome any person of good will who accepts the Catholic ethos of Glanfield. Many of the children and the helpers are of other faiths or none. All appear to gain much from both the spiritual and the sharing aspects of the group. The Glanfield Group has its own Chaplain, Father Tony Rogers, and with him the helpers enable the children to learn about prayer and Christian fellowship through fun and simple liturgies specially adapted for children and those with learning difficulties. An example of this is the fun 'Night Prayer' gathering we have every evening, and the Mass that the children organise for the whole Catholic Association pilgrimage

Messages of condolence

A wonderful charity that meant so much to Lesley over the years. Going to Lourdes with the Glanfield Group, and of course Lesley too, will always hold very special memories. May her soul rest in peace now her work on this earth is done, lots of love from Dinah, Peter and family xxx

Mrs Dinah Findlay

In loving memory of our beloved GG xx

Family Harman

With happy memories over many years

Mr and Mrs Jeremy and Sheila English

Such wonderful memories of fun and laughter shared with this remarkable lady. I shall treasure the time we had together. Rest in peace.

Mrs Cheryl Flexton

A small donation for a great cause, in memory of Lesley, who always made us welcome when we visited Long Barn.

Mr & Mrs Tony and Linda Judge

In memory of Lesley. Please accept this donation for such a wonderful cause.

Mrs Audrey Hobday

For our dear friend, Lesley, God Bless. Elaine & Tony Stickler xxxx

Mrs Elaine Stickler

In memory of you Lesley and all the great occasions we celebrated together over the years. Rest in Peace. Your life was extraordinary. Love Niamh

Ms Niamh Bonar

In fond memory of Lesley who was such a positive influence on all around her. I know this through the Glanfield Group and through the wider CA pilgrimage, but I know there was much more than that.

Mrs Sadie Vile

A small donation in thanksgiving of Mum's life and so happy to support a cause so very dear to her heart xx

Mr & Mrs John and Fidelma Dowling

Service details

Church Service with Organist

27 February, 2024 14:00

Holy Cross / St Andrews

Church Lane, Much Hadham, SG10 6AW