They shall not grow old 09.11.18

One of the most special days for me in the Loughborough Grammar School year is the Loughborough civic Act of Remembrance that takes place in Queen’s Park on Sunday. The CCF forms up in Burton Walks and marches, accompanied by the Corps of Drums, at the head of a procession including all of the cadet and volunteer service groups in the town. Please consider joining us on Sunday, especially if your son is in the CCF. The Parents’ Association will swing into action to offer hot drinks beforehand from 08:30, and will provide refreshments again once we all return from the town centre.

We feel that it is vitally important that the Grammar School does everything that it can to keep the commemoration of the First World War and other conflicts alive in our sons’ hearts and minds. For the last four years, we have been particularly focused on the events of one hundred year ago, and you will have noticed that the boys’ planners have all featured a Great War theme, including information on the alumni who gave their lives for their country. The History Department has played a leading role in ensuring that all boys understand the extent of the sacrifice made across the country. Indeed, we listened earlier this week to an assembly given by Mr Blackman, Head of History, on the British response to the armistice and attitudes towards how one ought to remember the war dead in the years immediately after the conflict.

Remembrance Sunday this year falls on the exact centenary of the Armistice, and this means that we are not at school at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Consequently, we have held our Act of Remembrance this very Friday morning in the Quad. This is an annual occurrence, with the service led by the Chaplain, buglers sounding the Last Post, and a two minutes silence at 11:00. The difference this year was that, for the centenary act of commemoration, we were joined by our three sister schools of the Foundation, meaning that well over 2500 pupils and staff stood together, united in our thoughts. Our collective rendition of the National Anthem was a rather moving occasion, and I hope an appropriate tribute to our predecessors who paid the ultimate sacrifice, not just in the two World Wars, but right up to 2007, when LHS alumna Joanna Yorke Dyer lost her life in Iraq.

This year, we are extremely fortunate to have two outstanding pieces of artwork contributing to our Great War commemorations. Firstly, the Scouts have produced a poppy sculpture that has been hung from the parapet beneath the tower in the Quad. Secondly, Mr John Marsden, our Design Technology technician, has produced over hundreds of hours an extraordinary multi-sensory art installation that is sited in the Orangery (beneath the tower), remaining there until the end of term. This comprises fifteen mechanical poppies that open when visitors approach them. The stories of our fallen alumni can be read, and I urge you to pay a visit over the coming weeks if you can, as all those who have seen it have found it to be extremely moving. Again, the Orangery will be open as CCF parents arrive to drop their sons on Sunday morning.

There are many staff to whom we owe heartfelt thanks for their work in helping us to mark the seminal events of 1914-18. In particular, thank you to Dr Willmott, for his coordination of this morning’s enormous service, to Mr Dossett for his work on the planners over four years, to Mr Marsden for his monumental tribute, and to

Mr Weitzel and Mrs Bunn for their work on researching the lives of the 58 Old Loughburians who did not return in 1918.

Photographs of our Act of Remembrance will feature in next week’s newsletter.