A SCHOOL community gathered for the first time in eight months, separated by social distancing on the sports fields, but united in song, as they remembered the country’s fallen heroes.

Four more names were added to the roll of honour at Barnard Castle School, former students freshly identified by researchers Dot Jones and Malcolm McCallum, their names read out by students in recognition of the ultimate sacrifice they made in past conflicts.

John William Ernest Ross, K Cazaley, Richard Haseltine Jones and William Brown Ewan were all members of Northumberland House at the County Durham school and were among the 208 Old Barnardians who went to two world wars, never to return.

Headmaster Tony Jackson said: “It is wonderful to bring the entire school together for the first time in eight months, albeit outdoors, scattered across our playing fields to ensure our safety.

“Our strength is our community and this year the Remembrance service has been like no other. But while lockdown and the pandemic have been tough on families, on income, on mental health, this time of year helps bring us a sense of perspective. Not too long ago former pupils, not much older than ours, were being sent to war where they made the ultimate sacrifice, never to return.

“We must remind ourselves that we remain incredibly fortunate and it is important that we continue to remember and pay our respects to those who sacrificed themselves to leave the world a better place.”

The special ceremony of Remembrance, with students segregated into Year group bubbles, saw Mr Jackson and headmistress of the Preparatory School Laura Turner, place wreathes at a large poppy which had been painted onto the playing field grass.

Senior teacher John Gedye also placed a wreath on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham Sue Snowdon who was unable to attend in person because of COVID restrictions.

Staff and a contingent of students placed a simple cross in the grass to mark each one of the former pupils killed and Year 10 trumpeter Heather Brown marked the beginning of the two-minute silence with the sounding of the Last Post and signalled its completion with the Reveille.

The school’s Combined Cadet Force paraded before students and staff, who sang the hymn I Vow to Thee, My Country. Chaplain Fr Darren Moore led prayers and the school choir sang the haunting Pie Jesu.