PEOPLE from Salisbury, Amesbury and Tisbury will be taking part in national events to celebrate the first ever state visit by a pope to the UK.

Pope Benedict XVI will be visiting Britain from September 16 to 19 and, as well as meeting the Queen and giving a speech in Westminster Hall, a number of catholic events have been organised to celebrate his visit.

Children from St Joseph’s Catholic School in Salisbury, Shaftesbury School and Wardour Catholic Primary School in Tisbury will be taking part in the Big Assembly event at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham on September 17. The pope will lead the assembly, which will involve 3,000 children from catholic schools across the country, and talk about education.

On September 18 there will be a youth day in London with coaches going from Salisbury, Tisbury and Amesbury for activities followed by a big procession and a prayer event in Hyde Park.

At a big mass in Birmingham on September 19 Cardinal John Henry Newman will be beatified, the stage before canonisation, which will be the first time such a ceremony will have been performed in England. There will be 49 people from Salisbury attending and coaches will also take people from Amesbury and Tisbury.

Father Michael McAndrew, the papal visit co-ordinator for the Clifton Diocese, said: “People are very excited about going to these events. As soon as the pilgrim passes became available they were snapped up.”