As part of the WW1 centenary, 2 students and 2 members of staff visited France and Belgium from 16th to 19th March, the visit was to explore the battlefields of the war and commemorate the soldiers in the memorials.
The first night of the trip was spent at Grosvenor Hall in Ashford where initially students took part in team building activities with other schools from around the country following this staff and students were given the task to research a local soldier from the war, ours lived on Baker Street in Alvaston and has a lasting memorial at the Thiepval site in France.
The next day was a ferry trip from Dover to Calais with visits to the Passchendaele museum and the daily act of remembrance at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium – then settling at the Flanders Lodge hotel for the next 2 nights. We found William’s great grandad’s name on the memorial walls at the Menin Gate.
During the Sunday and the Monday there were visits to Neuve Chapelle, the Somme, shopping in Ypres (lots of chocolate), Thiepval, Langemark, Caterpillar Valley and the moving Tyne Cot cemetery – students were also very lucky to take part in a pottery workshop called ‘coming world remember me’ where they made clay figures that will feature in an art based memorial (similar to the tower of london poppies project) that will be open to the public in Flanders field.
The trip was not only very informative and interesting it was also very moving, the students were absolutely fantastic and a real credit to St Martins school, one of the tour guides even mentioned how impressed he was with the students knowledge and engagement – we all not only bought back tales of the experience but also a better understanding of events during WW1.