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Theme of Hope at a Time of Remembrance

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Pupils and staff at Bolton School Girls’ Division marked Remembrance Day with a socially distanced assembly. The event was streamed on Zoom so that all members of the school community could watch and take part safely. The theme of this year’s Remembrance service was hope.

An introductory address by Headmistress Sue Hincks focused on how, despite the moral ambiguity of war, remembrance always transcends all boundaries. She noted that the silence traditionally held at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is a small but important collective act: a rare moment when the nation stands together and reflects on the price of freedom.

Miss Hincks said that, this year, the act of remembrance is all the more poignant because of the loss taking place around us. The current global pandemic gives a small indication of what it must be like to live in a wartime situation, with the pain of suffering, the helplessness of not knowing how long it will last, and loss in terms of both lives cut short and lives not lived to the full. She also reflected on heroism: that heroism today is delivered by medics, by those seeking a scientific solution, by the people keeping supply chains going, and by soldiers on the front line supervising Covid testing.

She said that, for all of us, it is important to be brave, to be resilient, to support each other and to be confident that we will experience a normal life again one day.

The service continued with a poignant collection of hymns and poetry readings performed by Year 11 pupils. The first of these, ‘I Vow To Thee My Country’, was a reminder of the life beyond this life, and was sung by Isabella Morgan. This was followed by the poem ‘Hope is a Tattered Flag’ by Carl Sandburg, read by Khadijah Ahmed and Hannah McKee. Continuing the theme of the day, Molly Bell read Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘Hope is the Thing with Feathers’.

Miss Hincks spoke the words of the Ode to Remembrance, with everyone adding their voices to the final line: ‘We will remember them.’

At 11.00 o’clock, a recording of the Last Post was heard, as played last year by Bethan Birch in Year 9. There followed two minutes of silence, remembrance and reflection.

After the Reveille, another Year 11 pupil Amaani Adam read ‘There Will Be Peace’ by David Roberts and Hannah McKee performed ‘Summer’ by Paul Reade as a clarinet solo. Miss Hincks then led the prayer, which asked those listening to remember those who have given their lives in the service of others and those who are no longer with us, as well as the pain and suffering caused by human beings. She said: ‘We come together not to glorify or celebrate war and conflict but to recognise its cost, and to commit ourselves to be peacemakers and peacekeepers wherever the opportunity falls within our grasp.’ Finally, she gave thanks for memory, through which it is possible to learn from the mistakes of the past.

The hymn ‘Jerusalem’ was sung by Year 13 student Eve Birtwhistle to bring the service of Remembrance to a close.


The Girls’ Division Remembrance service is available to watch in full here.

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