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Students join veterans for parade and service 24 June 2007

THE last World War started more than 50 years before they were born.

But students from two secondary schools said they felt ‘honoured’ to take part in Sunday’s Veterans’ Day parade and service of thanksgiving in Douglas.

The event, organised by the Veterans’ Day Committee, marked the contributions of veterans of all conflicts, long past but not forgotten and more recent and still on our TV screens daily. St Ninian's students parade along Loch Promenade

More than 35 students from St Ninian’s High School and Ballakermeen High School joined the lengthy parade of veterans, resplendent in their medals, from Regent Street to the War Memorial.

They then attended the service at the Villa Marina, led by Archdeacon Brian Smith, the Royal British Legion’s Isle of Man chaplain. There they joined the Lieutenant Governor, His Excellency Sir Paul Haddacks, Chief Minister Tony Brown, President of Tynwald Noel Cringle, dignitaries, including Education Minister Anne Craine MHK, and hundreds of veterans.

Andrew Wilkinson, a teacher at St Ninian’s, who organised his students’ participation, said:

‘We took along Year 9 pupils as they are the ones working on World War II, but we also took along sixth formers including our head boy and girl. A school filmed proceedings and interviewed veterans.’

Veterans Hector Duff and Albert Phair visited the school in the week leading up to the event.

St Ninian’s students explained they had been chosen to represent the school after they completed a project on World War II in their own time, researching it using books, films, computers and by speaking to veterans.

Asked how he felt about taking part, Charlie Williams, 14, said:Year 8 students from Ballakermeen take part

‘I feel honoured and proud. Our children will never experience this.’ Alex Armstrong, also 14, said: ‘To be with people who have done so much for Britain, I feel proud to walk with them.’

Ballakermeen students described how they volunteered to take part in the parade and service after Head of Humanities Paul Withington addressed their assembly.

Hannah Popps, 13, whose great grandfather was a prisoner of war in World War II, said she had felt ‘nervous’ about taking part but was enjoying the chance to meet veterans.

At the service, there was a silent tribute to two men killed very recently in conflicts, Manx-born Kingsman Adam Smith, 19, who died in a roadside bomb attack in Basra in April and Corporal Mike Gilyeat, 28, who was a casualty of a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in May and whose grandparents live in the Island.

The students mingled with veterans at an afternoon tea and concert which followed the formal proceedings.

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