This week, 80 Year 8 pupils visited the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK’s all year-round centre of Remembrance; a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice, and fosters pride in our country. It is a living and lasting memorial.
The Arboretum covers 150 acres of land and is a living tribute that will forever acknowledge the personal sacrifices made by the Armed Forces and civil services of this country.
The focus isn’t totally military. There is a large area devoted to Police who have fallen while on duty, as well as other areas devoted to the Fire and Rescue and Ambulance services. National charities representing those who have died in particular circumstances, including children, are also to be found in the Arboretum grounds.
The Arboretum was the brainchild of Commander David Childs CBE who wished to see established a national focus for Remembrance. Following a meeting with Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC, an appeal was launched in 1994 by the then Prime Minister, John Major.
The trip supports the year group’s recent History modules and focused on a variety of aspects including World War One, the Holocaust and conflict in the Middle East.
Pupils toured the arboretum and also took part in a workshop where they investigated a variety of artefacts which were handed out to them to identify and predict what they represented. They then presented their findings to the rest of the group. All pupils took part in a memorial ceremony, remembering those who have fought in wars across the world. Pupils finally took part in a poppy session where they explored the concepts behind this and the place it has in commemoration today.
One particular thought-provoking memorial for the pupils, was the ‘shot at dawn’ memorial, which remembers the 309 British soldiers executed for desertion during World War One. Some of those shot at dawn were young soldiers who lied about their age to join up, such as Herbert Burden. Many of these soldiers may have been suffering from PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) and this was recognised in 2006 with the Armed Forces Act 2006 allowing the soldiers to be pardoned posthumously.
The pupils showed great respect throughout the day and as ever and were credit to the school.