Lifepath Malvern

                      Held in the week 19th-23th June 2017.

‘'It was an awesome day.  I loved everything.’  Said by a child, shared by all who took part in Lifepath 2017!

The mounting excitement among the ninety or so volunteers each morning was only matched by the growing anticipation of the 150 primary schoolchildren and their teaching staff, some of whom had been several times before.  The schools arrived to a mesmerising display of colourful banners being waved in the hot sunshine.  Children were quickly intro-duced to their two Pilgrim guides who would accompany them for the day, and packed lunches and school bags were stored safely.  With a few minutes to go before the combined entrance into the Priory church, worship music filled the air and the activities had begun. ‘When we walked in I felt very special because people were smiling and waving silky flags’.

The morning starts and ends with introductions to the Christian faith, the history of the Priory and its founder Aldwyn, and a biblical story.  This year it was a modern take of the Good Samaritan. Lifepath songs are sung with gusto and all the actions are coordinated in near perfect fashion. The afternoon session closes with everyone back in the nave and a more reflective approach is used with everyone being invited to place a pebble on a cairn as a symbol of their own journey through life, however young or old.  'I absolutely loved your modern take on the story of the Good Samaritan’.

Each group of ten or so pupils takes part in three practical activities such as bell ringing, building an arch, brass rubbing, medieval medicine, calligraphy and a host of others.  Every group also visits the Prayer Journey activity which helps young people to explore the concept of Christian love and ways of saying thank you, sorry and please.  Mementoes from the prayer activities such as spinners, polished stones, bookmarks and bracelets are proudly taken home by the children. ‘There’s one particular thing I enjoyed and it was going through the prayer journey.  My favourite bit was saying sorry to my mum because I am quite cheeky at home.  It felt better to say sorry.’

Activities last for 30 minutes and the whole Priory and upper floor of the Lyttelton Rooms become a hive of activity.  Two minutes before the end a bell is rung and a scripture can be heard over the loud speakers to which everyone replies before entering a remarkable 30 second silence.  Reminiscent of the former monastic silence, this time of reflection is quite beautiful, powerful and humbling.

Everyone is encouraged to send feedback after their visit and these comments are both helpful in determining what worked well, as well as deciding if anything could be improved. Some children suggested ways in which the day could be made better: ‘The way you could improve Lifepath is to make the day and sessions longer’ and ‘You could improve Lifepath by letting us do every activity for longer’.

Feedback from the teaching staff was equally positive and encouraging:

‘This was honestly the easiest school trip I have ever had the pleasure of running.  All aspects of the day were so well thought out and the whole team were so helpful.  I didn’t have to worry about anything.  Thank you for such a refreshing day for me and an action-packed day for them!’

From a visitor came the following experience:  ‘I just wanted to say what a fantastic visit I had today to Great Malvern Priory. I saw lots of lovely children doing lots of different activities. Keen to know more I approached a member of the team who explained about Lifepath.  I found the whole thing fascinating and what a great way of engaging with the children.  I was made to feel most welcomed’