The joys of giving outweigh tenfold any difficulties

This summer a team of pupils from Ampleforth College took part in three Besom in York projects around the city. The experience proved a significant one for the teenagers on the ‘SHACworks’ team and led to what their teacher described as “massive interest” at the school. Here pupil Georgina Eglington, reflects on their involvement.


A Monday morning at the beginning of July and a group of keen, yet slightly hesitant, sixth formers congregate in the car park at Ampleforth College. We were leaving school for the week to live in community off campus and work with The Besom.

On arrival we were cheerily greeted by [Besom in York co-ordinator] Rob [Ainsworth] and the team, and after a time of reflection and prayer together we wasted no time, grabbed supplies and headed off. Over the next few days we were working together in groups of around seven to repaint and brighten up the homes of residents in York.

Group one was tasked with decorating the kitchen, living room, bathroom and entrance hall of one flat and the bedroom for the neighbour.


Group two meanwhile was busy moving furniture and ornaments (whilst memorising where everything had been…) and turning the rooms into big seas of protective dust sheets all carefully taped together in the hope that nothing underneath would be ruined.

Group three was based in a young people’s home, giving it a re-decorate for the new people who had just moved in.

We lived out of the city, our days revolving around a cycle of work and prayer, mirroring the tradition of the Benedictine community we are part of at Ampleforth. We had a busy week made new friends strengthened old friendships and even learnt a thing or two about decorating.


Rob had suggested that we might like to adopt the tag line ‘giving with a cheerful heart’ taken from 2 Corinthians 9:7 to ‘explain’ our name, SHACworks  (SHAC being the name by which we often refer to Ampleforth College).

The most important lesson we took from the week was that in spite of the tears, frustrations and sheer tiredness that most of us encountered, the joys of giving both to the people we were fortunate enough to meet and of living in a small community of faith outweigh tenfold any difficulties.


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