At Northgate, Mr MacDonald organises our yearly service of Remembrance. This year as we commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War, he tells us about the events and organisation.
‘This year marks a special time in history as we all come together in school to commemorate the huge sacrifices made by the young men and women of that generation. We have all grown up hearing stories of bravery, beyond any comprehension. In every town, village and city a memorial has been erected and the name of every soldier engraved in its stone. We owe so much to the generations of the past; it was clear during our Remembrance service we all respect the nation’s commitment of those extremely dark times.
I began work myself in 2013 and in November of that year, I decided to plan Remembrance services, with the intention of bringing the school together in our own “Act of Remembrance”. From my first Remembrance in school I felt I wanted to do more.
In 2017 Northgate High School affiliated with the Royal British Legion, becoming the first school in Norfolk to do so. A special service took place in school to mark the occasion attended by Sir William Cubitt. A presentation was awarded in recognition of outstanding work in the field of remembrance.
Remembrance is a special date in the school calendar and this year has been a particularly poignant year. Northgate High School has certainly supported this year as we had engaged with the Royal British Legion back in the summer in writing our own poem. The poem made its way to Belgium with the Royal British Legion.
A decade after the end of WW1, the British Legion (as it was then known) organised for 11,000 veterans and war widows to visit the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres before marching to the Menin Gate in Ypres on 8 August 1928.
In 2018, exactly 90 years on, Great Pilgrimage 90 saw 1,150 branches and thousands of members and representatives from the UK and abroad help The Royal British Legion recreate their original pilgrimage.
This is to commemorate the legions of brave,
we remain thankful for all that you gave.
Now we walk free and unchallenged, due to the lessons you taught,
In a world that is joyful and richer because of the war that you fought.
Gone – not forgotten – as we look up to the sky,
generations will remember bravery cannot die.
The poem now has a special place in Belgium, but also at the heart of our community as it was read out not only in the Queen Mothers garden to commemorate, by handing over the torch of peace, by David & Katy, then again at our own Remembrance service in school.’ Head Girl, Katy Burton commented, ‘I was privileged to be asked to represent Northgate at such a poignant event in history. To take the torch as a promise to keep the memory of all those who lost their lives, past and present, to enable us to live in peace today was an honour’.
Mr MacDonald continues, ‘Remembrance in school was a challenge this year as I wanted to ensure no stone was left unturned. This was done by involving the community and to have several meetings out of school to ensure this happened. To mark the occasion of the 100 years, it was something I wanted to do with a visual impact. The Dereham Craft Group, kindly agreed to knit 100 poppies to display in our garden of Remembrance. The group also agreed to hand paint a pebble, with a poppy and the names of every soldier on the Dereham War Memorial; it certainly had the impact and the sheer scale of loss in front of everyone. It often requires a visual display to remind everyone, what we are grateful for today.
The Remembrance service is an emotional time for everyone and a story to be told for many years to come. We proudly paid tribute in our service with musicians from Northgate and Dereham Sixth Form, poetry read by staff and students and beautiful singing from Dereham Sixth Form and their choir. The Last Post always grips a congregation and this year included Piper Izzy–Nummy Taggart, playing “Flowers of The Forest” from the rooftop of our school. This followed by the congregation placing crosses into our “Garden of Remembrance” with the watchful Silhouettes of the “There But Not There” project to commemorate 100 years.
In 2014 our Remembrance service marked 100 years and the start of WW1. This was clearly a different Dereham to what we see today and on Armistice Day 2018, our Head boy David and our Head girl Katy were invited to place a wreath on the Dereham War Memorial. This was an honour for them both and something which will remain with them for years to come.’
A big thank you to Mr MacDonald for organising the event and to all those who took part in our special Remembrance Service, to the Revd. Canon Sally Theakston, Hilary Bushell, Mayor of Dereham, members of Dereham Crafters, members of the Royal British Legion, representatives from the military, Mr Brook who played the Last Post, Mrs Nummy-Taggart, Mrs Sutcliffe, Mrs Graves and Mr Salt who all gave readings, pupils from Unity Education Trust school and musicians from Northgate and Dereham Sixth Form.
That’s TV Norfolk attended our service – you can see their report here:
Click here to read the article from the Dereham Times on Remembrance Services from the area
“Lest We Forget”