Half past 5 on a Saturday morning and the alarm clock starts blaring. On any other Saturday I would be wondering why the alarm clock is going off at this time of the day but today is different. Wembley was Calling. After Jam on Toast and a cup of tea, the walk to the train station awaited. Thankfully, the weather was clear as the sun started sneaking up over the horizon although it was a little bit chilly. Upon the arrival to the train station, the first Salesian meeting took place. This involved a quick catch up, buying energy drinks and buying a little bit more of a sugary breakfast for the journey.
After the 2 hour train journey we arrived in sunny London. Then the excitement and uncertainty of the tube beckoned. We successfully negotiated the tube and arrived at Wembley Park looking down Wembley way. It was also quite quiet around Wembley but there were a few people around and the atmosphere was apparent and building. When we were eventually allowed in we took our seats and welcomed any and all Salesians that joined us where we were. A lucky few of us were taken backstage at Wembley because we were going to be running workshops outside the front of Wembley Arena.
Then we took to our seats yet again and eagerly awaited the start. Looking around it was quite a warm but surreal feeling to think that there is still a strong youth Catholic presence within the UK. Even after having been to World Youth Day last year and meeting thousands of young Catholics over in Madrid, it was still great to feel such a strong presence.
The programme started with a bit of a dance and then two the two MCs, David Wells and Paschal Ushe welcomed us to Wembley and started the programme off with the theme on Respect. Which was the first of 3 and all were based on the core Olympic values. The theme of Respect had talks from Bridget Parker, Fr Timothy Radcliffe and Jason Gardener. There was also a small drama from Rise Theatre which was about giving respect to yourself and the people around you.
We were then let out to enjoy the wonderful sunshine that we weren’t able to see from inside the arena. While we were in the sun we played games with the young people and as you can see from the photo, the game Splat, was quite popular. There was just enough time between the games and the start of the next session to fit in a bite to eat.
The next session focused on the theme of Friendship. The session involved talks from Barry and Margaret Mizen, who had lost their son, Jimmy Mizen, in a tragic altercation. There was also a interview show on the stage which was about the work of CAFOD and some volunteers that have done work over in Kenya. There was also a group from the Safe Gorton Project where we were shown the formation of a band that had formed there and they then led us in all of the song for the rest of the day.
This was then followed by the theme of Excellence. This was lead by David Wells who was accompanied by Stef Reid and Debbie Flood. This session was all about telling us about how excellent we all can be and that we shouldn’t be held back from being the best we can be. Then probably the most memorable part of the whole day was a dance-song medley in the style of glee. There were many popular hymns sung to the tune of Don’t Stop Believing. If you want to watch it then there are a few videos on Youtube.
After a short break, the mood changed and we went into a time of adoration. We reflected on everything that we had experienced in the day. We were also challenged to take those experiences and to share them with everyone around us. The programme then ended and we were gifted a performance by the band, Indecisive.