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Pupils research homes of the fallen in war-hit community


Oct 15, 2018

STUDENTS have been reflecting on the fallen and remembering the departed as the nation unites to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.

Staff and students at St John’s School and Sixth Form, A Catholic Academy, Bishop Auckland, have been working on a host of poppy day projects including pinpointing the homes of the 459 local soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.

A map covered in red pins, with some streets showing multiple deaths, highlighted the impact of the Great War on Bishop Auckland, one of the hardest hit communities in the country per head of population.

The map, a Peace Globe made by the school, and an arts installation featuring a mannequin sporting a WWI uniform with war-time documents sewn onto the fabric, are part of a huge commemoration ceremony and muster parade due to be staged on Saturday (Nov 10) at Durham Cathedral, which will be attended by some staff and students.

The projects were led by history teachers Clare Howard and Sara Miller, Academy arts co-ordinator Jaquie Holloway and chaplain Emma Ramsey.

Work began in June after Year 12 students were visited by members of Durham County Records Office. Now in Year 13, the sixth formers have scoured the archives to find out as much information as possible on the fallen soldiers.

The aim is to use the research to plot a Remembrance Walk linking the homes of the war dead as a lasting tribute to them paying the ultimate sacrifice.

School walls were also decorated with hundreds of poppies each one carrying a soldier’s name, their rank, an address, where they died and a prayer.

Clare said: “Students were fascinated but shocked to find out the true impact of the First World War on their community. In some streets there were four or five deaths. Some families lost all three sons, or a husband and two sons and it has helped them recognise the sacrifice they made for future generations.”

For Air Cadets Emily Scorer, 14, of Bishop Auckland, and Abigail Ketteringham, 15, of Crook, the projects had greater poignancy as they hope one day to join the Army as a field nurse and PT instructor, respectively.

Abigail said: “I have always been interested in medicine but didn’t fancy a career in the NHS and my uncle is an officer. It is what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember.”

Students also decorated a large cross with ribbons, each representing a loved one who has passed away.

A special assembly of Remembrance was staged (on November 9) at which students read out the names of some of the soldiers and The Last Post was played by Year 7 student Harry Rose on the cornet.

By French