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Wednesday, 11 November 2015
The Girls’ Division commemoration of Armistice Day was a solemn occasion, as current pupils and teachers were joined by Old Girls of the School and by veteran Kenneth James Cole in marking the occasion. Headmistress Sue Hincks opened the service by remembering some of the events of 100 years ago during the First World War, when in 1915 soldiers in the trenches saw first use of poison gas, the Gallipoli Campaign wiped out thousands of Allied troops, and at home in the UK pals battalions continued to be formed, not realising that many of those who joined to fight side by side would also die side by side.
Miss Hincks also reminded the congregation that this year in the 70th anniversary of the end of Second World War, and welcomed veteran Kenneth Cole, who took part in Operation Doomsday before being posted in India and the far east. Kenneth lost his two best friends in the conflict, and Miss Hincks asked the girls to join him in remembering them in particular, among all those who have given their lives.
Two pupils who recently visited the Battlefields of Ypres in Belgium shared their memories of the trip. Both were struck by the scale of human sacrifice when visiting the memorials commemorating those who have no known grave. One of the girls quoted Wilfred Owen’s famous poem ‘Dulce et decorum est’ and noted the true futility of war. The other speaker recalled laying a wreath during the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate one evening, which was a particularly moving moment.
Miss Hincks then read the Ode to Remembrance, with the whole School and visitors responding with the final line: “We will remember them.”
The following two minutes of silence were preceded by The Last Post and concluded by a rendition of the Reveille, both played beautifully by Year 10 pupil Ellen Bate.
During the remainder of the service, pupils read the poems ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McRae and ‘We Shall Keep The Faith’ by Moina Michael. Miss Hincks explained that Moina was inspired to wear a poppy as an act of remembrance after reading ‘In Flanders Fields’, and wrote her poem about this decision. The wearing of the poppy has since been picked up by The Royal British Legion, and is used to raise funds to support veterans, serving members of the armed forces, and their families. Another pupil also read ‘Taking a Stand’ by John Bailey, which reiterates the message that those who gave their lives should not be forgotten.
There were musical interludes throughout the service, including a moving performance of ‘Abide With Me’ from The Accidentals: Caroline Blair, Riya Kalhan, Molly McLaughlin and Jessica Willock. This piece was arranged by Mrs Reina. Riya Kalhan also sang ‘Where Corals Lie, Op. 37, No.4’. The whole School and guests joined together to sing ‘I vow to thee my country’ and ‘Jerusalem’.
Following the Remembrance Service, Old Girls enjoyed a lunch in the Arts Centre, which they very much enjoyed. Sixth Form pupils also held a special Armistice Day Tea at the Riley for older people in the local area.
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