Volunteers Nurses Safeguarding


A Volunteer Helper – Why not you? After all the pilgrimage would not be possible except for the wonderful helpers who give their time and dedication to the pilgrimage. The volunteers are collectively known as the Birmingham Hospitalite and comprise of the following:

  • Handmaids – the name given to female volunteers
  • Brancardier – translates to stretcher-bearer and is the name given to male volunteers
  • Nurses
  • Doctors


Our current Chief Handmaid is Sarah Hickman.

The role of the Handmaid is multifunctional and covers many areas both practical and spiritual. To volunteer as a Handmaid you do not need any special skills or knowledge.
All duties are based around assisting the Sick Pilgrims, such as helping them at meal times, assisting them to and from Ceremonies and Processions, tending to their rooms and talking and listening to them.
They also assist and accompany the sick to the Baths, visits to the Grotto, on shopping trips etc. Working with the Pilgrimage brings a two-fold reward – the joy of seeing the sick pilgrims experience Lourdes and the joy of being privileged to help.
Lourdes is a wonderful place, full of love, sharing and caring. Here friendships are made in a moment and last a lifetime.


Kevin Goodyear is currently the Chief Brancardier.
The work of the Brancardiers is like that of the Handmaids – to make the Sick Pilgrim’s stay in Lourdes as comfortable, meaningful and as enjoyable as possible.
Duties may include working in the baths, assisting at the Airport, stewarding at ceremonies and processions, assisting Sick Pilgrims to and from ambulances.
For some,their work begins at Birmingham Airport, where they assist all pilgrims onto the aircraft. On arrival in Lourdes, the brancardier assist the sick onto the forgons (the buses for the sick pilgrims sick and disabled pilgrims travelling this way.
They then travel to the Accueil, where they meet the sick and accompany them to their rooms. Others travel overland and provide assistance to the sick and disabled pilgrims travelling this way. It can be hard but rewarding work.

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