A LONG-SERVING fund-raiser is making the trip of a lifetime for an audience with the Pope.
Norman Imms, 66, has been working with pupils at Acre Rigg Junior School, in Peterlee, to put together a collection of photos and letters to present to Pope Benedict XVI.
The folder contains pictures of the Acre Rigg pupils as well as children from the Shishu Bhavan orphanage in Calcutta, which the pupils have helped over the years with donations of toys.
Norman will be making the pilgrimage to Rome on April 18 where he will present the Pope with the folder in the Audience Hall.
“The children of Acre Rigg have been wonderful,” said Norman. “It’s their achievement really. They have put together all this work, I will just be the one handing it over to the Pope.”
Norman will spend a few days in Vatican City after his meeting with His Holiness.
“The nuns are going to look after me. I will be sleeping in the monastery and going to mass in the mornings,” said Norman.
The prospect of meeting with the leader of the Catholic Church is one that he is thrilled about.
“It will be joyful, really lovely,” he said.
Devout Catholic Norman was forced to give up his job as a midwife after developing paranoid schizophrenia, manic depression and psychosis.
He had suffered from the three medical conditions for more than 30 years before he prayed with Mother Theresa in 1997 and immediately found himself well again.
After that, Norman became a co-worker for Mother Theresa, collecting supplies for her Shishu Bhavan orphanage as a thank you.
Norman has forged links between the orphanage and Acre Rigg over the years and has made numerous trips to Calcutta to visit the children in the orphanage.
Theresa Armstrong, office manager at Acre Rigg, said: “Norman has been coming to the school for about 10 years.
“He does fund-raising for the orphanage in Calcutta.
“The kids are excited that he is going to be meeting the Pope.”
Norman and his wife Cathy have grandchildren at the school and their children also attended Acre Rigg.
Theresa added: “The kids enjoy him coming in and in the past he has brought in videos to show them of the orphanage and photos.”