Welcome to our gappers – Iona and Sarah!

We’re thrilled to introduce our fabulous new gappers: Iona and Sarah.

They’ve been with us for just about a month and are settling in well at St Mary’s Catholic College in Blackpool, where they are placed in the Chaplaincy Team.

Here they introduce themselves with a mixture of random facts.

I hope you have the opportunity to meet them at some point this year. They have many gifts and talents to share.  And they’re great company!

Over to you ladies…….


I’m Iona, one of the new CAFOD ‘Gappers’ for 2012/2013. I am based at St. Mary’s Catholic College in Blackpool for the year. I am 25, with three younger brothers. I was born in London, in fact Brixton, which I found out was the previous site of the CAFOD head office; coming full circle.

Iona, on the far right, with Laurence and Naomi (both gappers in other parts of the country)

I have moved around a fair bit, including a 7-year period in Hungary, and the family is now based in Cheshire. I love studying, and have graduated several times: in Philosophy from Leeds, an MA in Graphic Design also from Leeds, and finally some post-graduate Theology at Chester.

At that point I unfortunately ran out of money…so had to find a different avenue. This in part led me into the voluntary sector – not hugely profitable, but has thus far provided a roof over my head. It was also an opportunity to give back in thanks for all I have received. Last year I volunteered at a Catholic Youth Retreat Centre in the Lake District – Castlerigg Manor, and this year I am living and working as a ‘gapper’ in Blackpool.

I am thrilled to be working for CAFOD. I am most excited about all the doors that are being opened as a result, and for the privilege of experiencing a year with such variety.

I am particularly looking forward to working and living overseas with some of those people we see in CAFOD campaigns, and experiencing face to face the reality of those in need. I am convinced that all the people and places I go will have far more to offer me than I will them. I hope to be able to bring home their stories in order to engage the young people I work with in their lives and situations too.

Ok, now some less serious stuff! I am NOT a morning person, and neither do I seem to be particularly good at late nights, so I suppose I am a midday person..?

If I could have any superpower, I think it would have to be the power to fly.

My favourite smell is burning leaves in Autumn.

My dream job would be either some sort of musical artist, or creative artist (graphic designer, photographer..)

My new favourite sport (although this changes regularly) is barefoot running – and yes I have succumbed to Vibram 5-fingers (look them up if you haven’t heard of them). Although aesthetically displeasing, they are fantastic to run in. I have not yet met another sandgrown’un (apparently the name for people from Blackpool) sporting these fine shoes yet…I live in hope.

You really wear these Iona????

If I could live anywhere in the world, I think it would have to be somewhere which combined sea and mountains. I imagine a house with a glass fronted studio overlooking beautiful views from which I would while away my days creating artistic masterpieces, and my evenings spent sampling fine red wines, ports and cheeses, whilst theologising, philosophising and generally talking about life, the universe and everything, with a musical jam session to conclude.

Iona, on the left, with Carmel – yet another gapper

I’m sure there is more to me, but to avoid inflicting death by boredom, there endeth the gospel according to me. I look forward to meeting you all in person, and finding out about you!

Now over to Sarah…..

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
Somewhere quiet and picturesque (but not too far from shops!). I love Italy; it’d be nice to have the Vatican in walking distance!

What was your first job?
Youth leader at a retreat centre called Soli House, I ‘worked’ there for two years and it was ace.

Here’s Sarah!

What would be your dream job?
I don’t really know, but I’d love to work with lots of people. Youth work is great because you get to act like a kid!

Most played song on your iPod?
Damien Rice ‘Cannonball’, but I think it’ll be soon overtaken by the Killers or Mumford and Sons.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
Superstrength! I can never seem to open plastic bottles! I know I could probably do far more adventurous things with a superpower, but not having to admit my weakness and ask people to do things for me would be a huge plus!

Sarah’s dinner guest…..in her dreams….

If you could host a dinner party and invite anyone from history, who would make the guest list?
There are so many! The Queen (or just the whole Royal family… I, of course, would sit next to Prince Harry), William Shakespeare, the Pope, Stephen Fry and Rowan Atkinson. Ed Sheeran and the Killers would provide the music!I guess if I could have anyone there Jesus could make an appearance, and Richard Dawkins could have an invite too!

What is your favourite food?
I love Dim Sum, or steak, or tapas or cheese and olives. I really couldn’t choose.

To watch it’d probably be diving, or gymnastics; I love the artistry of them.

The ‘Lord of the Rings’ films are timeless, but I love things like Pride and Prejudice too… and I’ll always have a soft spot for Die Hard.

      …TV programme?
Downton Abbey and period dramas in general. I love comedy too, stand ups and panel shows, anything that can make me laugh.

…favourite smell?
Christmas. Things like Cinnamon.

…childhood memory?
My mom’s side of the family grew up on a farm in Shropshire and I have a few memories from there though I was very young. I remember playing in the snow in some wellies that were far too big for me.

What was the last book you read?
Honestly? Probably Harry Potter! I’m currently reading the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Barry Manilow… but then again who doesn’t want to dance when they hear Copacabana!

If someone gave you £500, what would you spend it on (other than CAFOD of course)?
Clothes. I’m a real girly girl at heart and I’m awful at managing my money! I’d love a big snuggly winter coat or a onesie!

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
A bit of both. I don’t like to waste the day!

Are you more suited to country or city life?
Again a bit of both. I love the country side but would struggle without the shops!

What’s your favourite thing so far about St Mary’s?
The community, especially in the Chaplaincy. There’s a really family-like atmosphere. It’s great to be part of such a big team.

Why do you love working for CAFOD?
Because I love working with people. It’s a great way to meet some really fantastic and inspirational young people and make a difference. It’s nice to belong to an exciting and thriving charity where faith is really celebrated through actions as well as thoughts.

What are you most looking forward to this year?
The international trip is something really exciting, but I’m sure to miss St Mary’s whilst I’m away.

What do you think you will find most challenging about ‘Step Into The Gap’?
The biggie is probably the International trip again, but my excitement for it definitely outweighs any nerves! I will definitely struggle without my hair straighteners though!

If you had the power to change one thing in our world what would it be?
It’s a really hard question because so many things are linked. Obviously putting an end to poverty would be top of the agenda. I think a world without prejudice would be pretty special.

Please join us in wishing Iona and Sarah all the best for the year ahead. 

Keep them in your prayers too.  Exciting times ahead!

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