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11 November 2020

Annual Remembrance Day services and activities have taken place today throughout the School to commemorate and remember those who have been lost to war. 

Annual Remembrance Day services and activities have taken place throughout the School from Early Years to Sixth Form to commemorate and remember those who have been lost to war. 

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This year, services were held differently, reflecting the times in which we are currently living. In Prep, Mr Stockdale, filmed a virtual assembly that saw him talking to the children about former students who had been lost in the war and then visiting Flaybrick Cemetery in Birkenhead, to pay his respects at the grave of J. R. Mac Swiney, MC, 10th Battalion of the King’s Regiment (Liverpool Scottish) who lost his life on the 2nd November 1918, just nine days before the end of the war. Mr Stockdale then recorded himself in the School Chapel to show the children the war memorial, displaying the names of all students lost, along with two members of staff. The assembly was streamed into each classroom at 10.45am and was then followed by the two minutes silence. 

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In Seniors, Years 7 to Upper Sixth, paid their respects on School Field which was a move away from the traditional service held in Bushell Hall. The field was marked out in advance with students standing two metres apart with their year group to ensure social distancing was adhered to. Mr Vicars, Headmaster, and Father Mark, School Chaplain, addressed the audience from a central stage. Former students who had lost their lives in conflict were read out by Head Students, Archie Parker-Goff and Lizzie Hyatt, in the Roll of Honour. The Last Post was played by Lower Sixth student, Natasha Keeling, and The Reveille was played by Tom Molloy, Year 11 student. 

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Mr Vicars, Headmaster, commented, “Circumstances meant we either had to conduct a virtual Remembrance Service, and concede to Covid, or be creative and create a fitting tribute to the fallen. We chose the latter, and the result, with the behaviour of the students impeccable, was a poignant tribute to all those Birkenhead School families who sacrificed so much.” 

Given the importance of the occasion, and being unable to guarantee the weather, a virtual Remembrance Day service was recorded in advance, should it have not been possible for today’s service to have taken place, and we are delighted to share this below along with Mr Stockdale’s assembly. 

Father Mark, School Chaplain, commented, “It has been a privilege to join with the whole School in remembering those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Today we have respectfully, and, with due reverence, honoured the fallen in a very different way. In a year that is so far from the normal, our students wanted to mark this occasion together, as a community.” 




Other activities also took place throughout the School. Mrs Vicars, History teacher, created a beautiful display of poppies surrounding a human silhouette. Tags were then placed between the poppies with written tributes naming former students who had been lost and thank you messages from current students. The display was on show during today’s service and will now be placed on permanent display within K Block. 

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In English, Year 8 studied War Memorial by World War 1 poet, Siegfried Sassoon and performed it to their peers during lessons.  

Poppy displays were also created by pupils from our very youngest children in Nursery through to our Sixth Form students. Children from Nursery visited the School Chapel and presented their creations to Father Mark so that these could be displayed with the others on the altar.

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Other displays were placed along the edge of School Field and next to the Ashcroft Steps, which were built in memory of three brothers; William, Edward and Frederick Ashcroft. 

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Mrs Pankhurst, Deputy Head, who organised today’s service was moved to retain this, most important of commemorations in these socially distanced times. “In moments of crisis it is tempting to be more introspective. However, here at Birkenhead School we encourage our students to look outwards, and remember not only the fallen, but also those struggling and recently bereaved within our community. Thus, standing together today, was a symbol of the strength of community in times of difficulty.”