A celebration for the 25th anniversary of the Pattaya Orphanage took place in London last Thursday. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham was Chief Celebrant at the Mass in the Church of the English Martyrs in Tower Hill. A reception, followed at Trinity House. Special guests included Archbishop Nicols, the founder of the Trust, Baron Riccardo Carini KC;SG; KCHS; Bishop Laurence Thienchai represented the Pattaya Orphanage; Mr Tana Weskosith from the Royal Thai Embassy; Father Marcus Stock, Director of Schools at The Archdiocese of Birmingham who is a PoT Trustee. Fr Larry Patin and Brother Denis Gervais represented the Father Ray Foundation, and Fr Giovanni Contarin the Camillians in Rayong. The Pattaya Orphanage was begun by the late Fr Ray Brennan, a Redemptorist priest who was sent to Pattaya as a temporary replacement for the parish priest in 1972. The war in Vietnam was raging, and the Gulf of Siam had become a popular destination for US troops on leave. With their arrival the commercial sex industry started up. One day, Fr Ray was handed an abandoned American-Thai baby. With help from a parishioner he kept the child and within weeks, several more babies had been left with him. By 1978 he had 58 children to look after and officially set up the orphanage. Fr Ray went on to establish many more projects, for street children, the blind, deaf, disabled and Aids orphans. Fr Ray died in 2003, but the work of the Trust is continuing to grow. After the Tsunami in 2005 the Trust was involved in relief operations. The charity is also developing work with refugee children from Burma. During his speech, Archbishop Nichols praised the work of the Trust, which he said: "promotes vaules that are so central to humanity - home, family, education and the dignity of every person." He said it "aims to build on the vision of Fr Ray, which was to create a home for vulnerable children and young people so that they could reach their full potential". A huge tapestry-like picture on the wall of the reception room in Trinity House illustrated the story of the Trust. It featured many hundreds of tiny photographs of faces of the children who have come under its care. For more information about the Pattaya Orphanage trust, see: www.pattayaorphanage.org.uk/ There are also several films on YouTube featuring different PoT projects. BUPA Community Connections sponsored the event, Blue Elephant provided the catering, Siam Winery the wine.
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