The annual silence has been a tradition in schools for decades, but this year some pupils and teachers have gone the extra mile to commemorate Remembrance Day. Paying tribute to those who have fought for their country, schools from Essex to Bolton held services in recognition of a solemn but very important occasion.
Bolton School Girl’s Division
Old Girls returned to the Bolton School Girl’s Division to participate in their Remembrance Day proceedings. Headmistress Sue Hincks led the service, paying tribute to the lives lost at Passchendaele, the Third Battle of Ypres and in particular Welsh poet and soldier Hedd Wyn. Wyn won the Bard’s Chair at the 1917 Eisteddfod but was unable to claim his prize because he was killed on the first day of Passchendaele six weeks before his prize was awarded. The assembly was continued with further readings by pupils Seren Davies, Aiman Ibrahim and Eleanor Haughton. The silence was framed by a recital by Ellen Bate, before the service was closed by Sameera Mohammed, who reminded the congregation why the poppy is used as a symbol of remembrance.
Elsewhere, Red Arrow Squadron Leader, and Solihull School alumni, Adam Collins, returned on Friday 10th November to participate in the school’s annual Remembrance Day. Back in the place he learnt to fly, Adam lay a wreath at the Solihull School’s war memorial, alongside the headmaster David EJJ Lloyd, NCO of the Combined Cadet Force (CFF), and the president of the Old Silhillians’ Association. This was followed by a service of Remembrance held in the chapel. Adam Collins was awarded the RAF Sixth Form Scholarship whilst studying at Solihull School, before he would go on to forge a successful career as a pilot and eventually appointed supervisor of the Red Arrows RAF aerobatic display in November 2017.
Rydal Penrhos School
Fundraising was on the minds of Rydal Penrhos School’s pupils as gifted musicians came together to hold a special Remembrance Concert on November 11th at St John’s Church, in aid of the Royal British Legion. The school choir, Rydal Penrhos’ Community Choir, the Prep School Treble Makers and the school orchestra united to bring guests a night of music and fun in honour of a very special cause. Solo performers included Juan Rajagoal, Zhara Shamsi and Tegid Goodman-Jones, and the evening was directed by the Director of Music, Pete Williams, who commended the musical talent and celebrated the Royal British Legion as “a very worthy cause”.
In Brentwood School a united front was shown as the school held their annual Armistice Day Remembrance Services on 10th November. Revd Dr Adrian McConnaughie led two services, one at 8.45am for the preparatory school, and another for fifth and sixth formers at Brentwood Cathedral. Here he was joined by headmaster Ian Davies and the service included the traditional ‘Laying of the Wreath’ by the student head of school, Mary Hirst. The School’s third and fourth Year pupils held a service at Wessex Auditorium, led by Ian Kemble, and the second year service was in the memorial hall, led by Steve Kersys. First years found themselves in the school’s Victorian chapel, taking lead from Old Brentwood’s James Brown and Nigel Carr. On Sunday 12th November the Brentwood School’s combined cadet force cadets took part in the town’s Remembrance Day Parade, after spending their Saturday raising funds for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
King’s Ely School
King’s Ely School also demonstrated the importance of unity, as staff, students, families and Old Eleans gathered inside Ely Cathedral on the 10th November for a moving service of hymns, prayers and readings, as well as the annual silence. Special commemoration was made to 98 Old Eleans and former choristers who died in 20th century conflicts by heads of school Oliver Hutchinson and Paige Grey. During the two-minute silence, a poignant moment happened as hundreds of poppies fell from the cathedral’s Octagon. After the service, heads of houses were joined by senior management, governors and guests to lay wreaths at the school’s war memorial.
All in all, a striking and unique effort was made by UK independent schools to pay tribute to soldiers and civilians who have felt the devastating effects of war.
Written by Emily Spivey