At Northgate High School our annual service of Remembrance was held and accompanied by The Royal British Legion, alongside staff and students from within the Unity Education Trust. As the years pass we mark significant points in history only recently acknowledging 100 years since the Battle of Passchendaele, Officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele became infamous not only for the scale of casualties, but also for the mud.
The Battle of Passchendaele was fought between 31 July – 6 November 1917. It is hard to imagine at the beginning of World War One, so many men from Dereham would set off to serve on the Front, many never to return and then later join the thousands of names on memorials and known as “The Glorious Dead”.
On Friday the 10th November this occasion was to be marked, during a very moving service coordinated by Mr MacDonald, who has been responsible for bringing everyone together from within the schools of Unity Education Trust. This year was a special event as we stood shoulder to shoulder with The Royal British Legion, whom the school work closer with since the affiliation earlier in the year. The service certainly brought our school to a complete silence as the “Last Post” was played by Mr Brook, Co – Director of Dereham 6th Form (DSFC).
Music has always been part of military life and so it was a fitting tribute to have such a musical accompaniment during our service arranged by Miss Brooks and the Northgate Orchestra. Soldiers would often sing as they marched off to war, this was to keep up their spirits and raise morale often as they thought about home. During the service, songs were sung by Emma Clarke (DSFC), poetry was also read out by staff and students together. Poetry was also a moving part of the service, the most famous being In Flanders Fields, by Major John McCrae and read by Mrs Graves, Head of Year 7, this was followed by Max Jynge (DSFC) reading Au Champ d’Honneur in French.
Mr Mason, Head of School, welcomed all of the guests attending the service. The guests included the Mayor & Deputy Mayor of Dereham, The Royal British Legion, representatives from RAF Marham, 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards, Simon Taylor from the Jon Egging Trust, Dereham Lions President, and Dereham Police.
Mr Mason then read out the citation of Harry Cator VC, MM recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth Forces.
Poems were also read out beautifully by Miss Ling – ‘We Shall Keep the Faith’, by Miona Belle Michael and Lauren Coates, Lawrence Jones (DSFC) and pupils from Kings Park, Beeston, Garvestone and Grove Primary schools – ‘Why wear a Poppy’
This year was a special year, due to the fact Mr MacDonald included everyone in the service, and poppy crosses were placed by guests, Unity Education Trust Schools, CEO, Trustees and Governors. In addition, Heads of House placed an individual poppy to represent all the students from Northgate High School. The Garden of Remembrance and service was closed by Will Stone, Head Boy and Rosie Jones, Head Girl laying a wreath to honour our fallen.
They shall not grow old, as we are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years Condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
Our remembrance service has captured the whole ethos of unity and spreading the Northgate Way, particularly respect. As a school we demonstrated respect beyond our own service and carried it onto Remembrance Sunday. Northgate’s Head Girl – Rosie Jones, Head Boy – Will Stone, Deputy Head Girl – Emily Booth and Deputy Head Boy – Adam Birks, along with Miss Theobald, were invited to attend the Remembrance Parade in Dereham. Due to the school’s affiliation with the Royal British Legion, we were invited to march alongside them to the war memorial and lay a poppy wreath – a very moving experience. We were honoured and proud to be a part of the ceremony, with so many of the Dereham community coming together to remember those who had fought, were injured or have died in conflicts. The sun was shining on a very cold and windy Sunday and as the Last Post was played, silence came down over the town with everyone paying their respects. We then marched through Dereham town centre to St Nicholas Church for the Remembrance Sunday service – a chance to reflect and remember again the huge sacrifice of many men and women. As the service finished and the rain came down, we joined members of the British Legion for refreshments. Here, Adam and Rosie presented a Remembrance themed canvas painting by Sophie Barnett to the British Legion. On behalf of Northgate, we’d like to say a big thank you to Hugh King and the British Legion for inviting us to be part of such an important event.