A PENDLE minister is heading to South America to give a keynote speech and oversee spiritual work with physically and mentally disabled children.

The Rev Derek Oldham, Methodist minister at four Pendle churches, will spend 12 days in Uruguay in March with four of his colleagues from the Lancashire district.

He will walk 50 miles from Blackpool to Barnoldswick on February 8 and 9 to help to raise the £1,500 needed for the trip.

He said: “The Lancashire Methodist District has links with three countries – Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and Uruguay.

“I have been asked to be the spiritual leader of a trip to Uruguay in March. We will spend time in Montevideo where we partly sponsor the Goodwill Institute.

“The institute helps physically and mentally disabled children and young adults, as there is not much in the way of facilities or treatment for them.”

The group of five will also be shown different social projects that the Uruguayan Methodist Church is working on, and there will be keynote speakers at a two-day conference.

Mr Oldham is minister at Methodist churches in Barley and Laneshaw Bridge, and at St Andrew’s, Barnoldswick, and St Peter’s, Earby.

He said: “I have done a little bit of walking but it can be difficult to fit it in alongside my role in the church.

“I have booked this week off to try to get some training in and I have been doing seven or eight-mile walks. I will be walking back from Blackpool to Barnoldswick in 24 hours, arriving on February 9.”

Uruguay was the first nation in Latin America to establish a welfare state, maintained through relatively high taxes on industry. Three years ago, a group of Uruguayan teenagers visited Pendle and Mr Oldham put one of the group up at his house.

“I’ve kept in contact with him,” he said, “and we have exchanged emails so hopefully I can meet up with him. He lives 300 miles from Montevideo unfortunately but hopefully we can arrange something.”

To sponsor Mr Oldham’s charity walk, e-mail him at derek.oldham8@btinternet.com.