A Keighley group which has taken disabled youngsters to Lourdes annually for more than four decades has been forced to scrap this year’s trip.

Group 58 – the local branch of the Handicapped Children's Pilgrimage Trust – began taking young people to the French shrine in 1968.

But a lack of helpers and funding means that for the first time, the traditional week-long Easter pilgrimage is not taking place.

Pam Jessop, who has been involved in Group 58 since it was established, said she was bitterly disappointed.

But she stressed that fundraising would continue in the hope that trips can resume next year.

“I’m really upset that we’re not going this time – the experience means so much to everyone involved and on Easter Sunday it’s going to seem very strange when we’re not all setting off,” said Mrs Jessop.

“Last year we had a few people drop out and we were going to be without some help this time, plus funding was short, so we decided the best thing to do was to give it a rest this year and hopefully start again in 2015.

“I want to say a big thank-you to all my previous helpers – and I will be getting in touch next year.”

The cost of taking each young person has spiralled over the years but the group, through its own fundraising efforts and donations, has always covered the outlay itself.

Last year eight youngsters made the journey, with £750 each needing to be raised.

A large team of adult helpers is also required.

“We’ve always had a coffee morning a few weeks before the trip – we’ll have that later this year instead and we will carry on with raising funds,” said Mrs Jessop.

“We are determined that this will only be a temporary break. We would love to hear from anyone – individuals or businesses – who can offer us support.” Mrs Jessop can be contacted on (01535) 664999.