Welwyn Garden City women blessed by Pope for bake sales and strawberry tea fundraisers

PUBLISHED: 09:00 17 November 2019

The six women at their papal blessing in Westminister. Picture: CAFOD.

The six women at their papal blessing in Westminister. Picture: CAFOD.


A group of six women from Welwyn Garden City have each received a papal blessing for a combined 150 years of volunteering.

On Sunday 3 November, six women from the Churches of Holy Family, Our Lady Queen of the Apostles and St Bonaventure's in Welwyn Garden City, received their blessings at a special mass at Westminster.

The mass was organised to recognise their efforts to fundraise over £100,000 for the Catholic Agency for Oversees Development or CAFOD.

Parishioner Sandy Leys was nominated after giving over her garden for many years to host the annual CAFOD strawberry tea celebrations and summer barbecues.

Meanwhile parishioners Linda Finn and Winifred Blackburn have together baked hundreds of cakes for charity bake sales, and group treasurer Carol Cole has been instrumental to the smooth running of the group.

Mavis Cleasby was presented with an award for her dedication to organising CAFOD community lunches at St Bonaventure's.

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Anne Stapleton was also recognised for her crucial role in organising events at Our Lady Queen of Apostles. She is currently helping her parish work towards the LiveSimply award - which is a sustainability award supported by CAFOD.

The award has helped other parishioners to walk or cycle to church or school, install solar panels, start recycling schemes, join a climate change campaign, support Fairtrade stalls or donate to a local food bank.

The award was started in response to Pope Francis' invitation to "work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us".

Each of the women, who have spent at least 25 years volunteering for the charity, were recommended for the award by the local CAFOD representative Tony Sheen, who was at the mass.

Mr Sheen said: "You are an inspiring group of women who get on with the work of the gospel supporting our sisters and brothers overseas as part of your normal daily life."

The Holy Family CAFOD group was first founded by Mary O'Neil in 1972.

Mary received her own Papal blessing in 2017, and attended the mass, congratulating those who have helped the group to continue.

Find out more at cafod.org.uk/volunteering.

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