Pupils’ concert to mark WWI centenary

Schools remembrance concert at Bemahague School, Onchan

Schools remembrance concert at Bemahague School, Onchan

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Pupils from St Ninian’s secondary school in Douglas joined forces with children from neighbouring feeder schools to commemorate the First World War in music and prose.

About 200 pupils, including 50 from St Ninian’s, were involved in the concert which took place on Wednesday and Thursday nights at the St Ninian’s lower school Bemahague site.

On Wednesday night pupils from Onchan, Willaston and St Mary’s schools were performing in front of parents and VIP guests including the island’s Lieutenant Governor Adam Wood, school governors and MHKs.

On Thursday it was the turn of Ashley Hill, St Thomas’ and Cronk-y-Berry primary schools, with St Ninian’s pupils performing both nights.

St Ninian’s head of music Claire Creer said the idea came from Dunkirk veteran Hector Duff who regularly speaks to the island’s school children about the war.

‘He thought it would be a good idea for the schools to do something to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the war in 1914 so he spoke to Jo Richardson the head of Onchan school,’ Mrs Creer said.

Mrs Creer said: ‘It’s a mixture of music and readings with traditional songs such as It’s a long way to Tipperary and Pack up Your Troubles. They are singing Abide with Me and readings will also include pieces written by actual Manx servicemen.’

Mr Duff was among the guests attending the concert on Wednesday night and took part by performing a reading.

Children aged from eight to 18 were involved. Sixth former Sarah Buss from Douglas said; ‘It was really nice to be able to commemorate the out break of the war and celebrate the lives of peple lost, and remember what they did for us.’

Marc McCabe-O’Kelly, also a sixth former from Douglas, was another pupil taking part with a reading from the letters of sailor WH Clark from Ramsey, the sole Manx survivor when his ship sank near Gallipoli.

Fiona Breadner from Onchan primary school said all the children also contributed art work for the First World War display.

Members of the audience arriving at the school were confronted with Bemahague’s own floral tribute to the fallen. Inspired by the display at the Tower of London, each of the school’s 1,000 pupils had drawn a poppy which formed a display extending along the walls of the corridor leading to the theatre area and cascading down the side of the doors to the floor.

During the interval, for a small charitable donation, audience members could fortify themselves with buns each decorated with a red icing poppy and laid out on a green table cloth, to simulate a poppy field.

Deputy headmaster Rob Cowley said: ‘There’s at least one poppy from each child in our catchment area which is over 3,000 so we’ve probably ended up with more than 5,000 of them.

‘It’s created a wonderful display and it has all been respected by the children and it is excellent work between our school and all the feeder schools.’

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