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Students take part in events to mark Veterans’ Day 12 June 2008

STUDENTS from the Island’s five high schools will be participating in Veterans’ Day on Sunday 29 June.

More than 80 students will join hundreds of veterans in a parade along Douglas’s promenades at 3.15pm and will take part in the church service at the Villa Marina that follows it.

The participation of all the high schools follows the 2007 event, when students from the two Douglas high schools were invited to be involved.

Lena Dohvoma, a Year 9 pupil at St Ninian’s High School, will open the service, led by the Archdeacon of Sodor and Man, by speaking about the wartime experience of veteran Ken Kennaugh, who served in the Royal Signals Jungle Field regiment in Burma throughout World War Two.

Emily Connors, a Year 12 student at Ramsey Grammar School, will bring the service to a close by reading a Thomas Hardy poem in line with the theme of the service, ‘Hope for the Future’.

A musical group made up of Year 5 and 6 pupils from Foxdale Primary School will perform two songs – 'I'd Like To Teach the World to Sing’ and ‘Friends Across the World. The latter was written by Headteacher Stuart Lambie and pupils about the hope and aspirations of the children for others throughout the world and in particular at the Good Hope Primary School in Uganda, which the school has links with.

Veterans’ Day celebrations culminate in a tea and an evening of entertainment at the Villa Marina. Joe Crookall, who is in Year 9 at Queen Elizabeth II High School, will take part, singing Anthem from the musical Chess.

Education Minister Anne Craine MHK said she was proud schools were playing their part. She said:

‘I admire the way in which the veterans have raised the awareness of the conflict they endured in the past with students of today. In visiting schools and speaking to classes of students, they have given them a very real understanding of the suffering and hardship, as well as the camaraderie, of war. By doing so I believe it not only gives our young people greater knowledge of our history but hopefully allows them to appreciate the freedom that we enjoy today.’

The Minister, who will be at the Veterans’ Day service, added:

‘The fact that so many of our students wish to associate themselves with the veterans by voluntarily attending Veterans’ Day is a credit to the respect and understanding that has come out the relationship that has been forged. I look forward to sharing this occasion with them.’

Andrew Wilkinson, a Year 9 history teacher at St Ninian’s High School whose students are participating in the parade and service, said:

‘There is only so much we can teach pupils about the past using textbooks, films and other resources. Some of our most successful lessons have been when veterans have come in to tell pupils about their experiences. The pupils have really responded to the talks and got a small feel of what it was like and events like Veterans’ Day reinforce their learning.’

He said:

‘The St Ninian's High School pupils who attended the Veterans’ Day ceremony in 2007 certainly enjoyed and appreciated their participation and some asked if they could attend again this year. As the theme of this years Veterans’ Day Ceremony is Hope for the Future, it is vital that pupils can attend events such as this so that they can get the opportunity to learn from the past to hopefully give us hope for the future.’

Brigadier Norman Butler CBE, who chairs the Veterans’ Day committee, said the occasion would not just commemorate the role of veterans of the past but also those serving now. He said:

‘They are few compared with those in previous wars but they are taking part in fighting of intensity and duration seldom seen even in the Second World War. One in 20 is killed or seriously wounded in a six month tour in Afghanistan.’

Brigadier Butler commented:

‘It is a particular source of pride and pleasure that schools on the Isle of Man are taking such an active interest in the day, marching with the veterans and joining them for the service and tea. As the veterans grow older, it is the young who will carry forward the memories and respect, particularly for those who gave their lives. It means a great deal to us all to see the enthusiasm and support of our youth for the occasion.’

Background to the event:

Veterans’ Day was established by the UK Government in 2006 to celebrate the service given to the country by veterans of the three services in both peace and war. The Isle of Man Government was pleased to follow suit and proclaimed the last Sunday in June as Veterans’ Day on the Island. A committee was appointed comprising a wide representation of the ex-service organisations, with Brigadier Norman Butler as Chairman and the Chief Minister as an active member. A veteran is anyone who has served in one of the three services; members of the merchant navy in times of war are also included. The veterans comprise not only the heroes of the Second World War but also those of the 15 years’ National Service after the War (for men aged 18) and the post-war members of the regular armed forces and territorial organisations.

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