CATHOLIC STUDENTS from St Bede’s College in Manchester started their Lenten fundraising events by creating their own piece of history at Gorton monastery to the east of the city.
One hundred students from the college’s award winning Young, Gifted and Green troupe became the first ever Irish group to perform musical and dance numbers in the newly restored monastery, which is now a prestigious arts and conference centre.
Tony Hennigan, the director of Young, Gifted and Green, from St Bede’s College, said: “It was a fantastic evening. The monastery is a unique building and holds a very special place in the hearts of Manchester’s Irish Catholic community.
“We were delighted to be the first Irish troupe to stage a sell-out show on the opening weekend of the Manchester Irish Festival at the now newly restored arts venue. The atmosphere in the monastery was very special and the show managed to raise a considerable amount of money for the Gorton monastery trust and the south Manchester youth Lourdes pilgrimage. Demand for tickets was at an unprecedented high and I think we could have filled the monastery several times over. We would like to thank all of the 100 performers in the show, our special guests, the audience, our sponsors and everyone who helped to make it such a unique event.” The 100-strong group of Irish musicians, singers and dancers have appeared on numerous television shows including BBC Blue Peter and Songs of Praise.
The Taoiseach Brian Cowen sent a personal letter of support to students for staging such a unique event and congratulating them on being the first group to receive a Royal Variety Club of Great Britain award. The former Franciscan monastery was saved from destruction by an ex-altar boy, Paul Griffiths, and his wife Elaine who are the directors of the trust.