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St Ninian’s pupil Katherine Blenkinsop wins NVA shield 28 June 2010

Normandy Veterans’ Association members Albert Phair and Hector Duff recently met a number of St Ninian’s High School pupils for lunch to talk about their experiences during World War Two and in particular on D-Day. NVA presentation

Hector and Albert have been visiting St Ninian’s since 2004 and have spoken to hundreds of Year 9 pupils in that time.

Every year they award the NVA History shield to the pupil who makes the best contribution in the question and answer sessions and the winner for 2010 is Katherine Blenkinsop of 9HDS.

The lunch was held to celebrate Katherine’s success and say thank you to Hector and Albert.

Also attending the lunch, held at the Cat With No Tail, were history teachers Jo Ewan and Andrew Wilkinson along with previous NVA Shield winners Charlie Williams of Year 12 and Jack Gibney of Year 10.

A special guest at the lunch was Arnhem veteran Bob Quayle who, by coincidence, Katherine had interviewed as part of the Tell Me Project.

Head of History Jo Ewan presented Hector and Albert with DVDs as a thank you from the History Department and it was noted that Hector’s DVD was about German Panzer “Ace” Michael Wittemann, who Hector had fought in Normandy.

Charlie Williams, who is now head boy, recalled how, in 2007, Hector, Albert and their late colleague Harry Bacon visited St Ninian’s and said that the visits ‘give an insight into events that no textbook can do and it is a privilege to hear first hand accounts of the events of World War Two and in particular D-Day’.

Mrs Ewan backed this up by saying: ‘The veterans were thrilled to see the interest in the events of their youth, and the students were able to see the personal angle behind the History through their discussions with the veterans, found out the truth behind the liberation of Bayeux, and the real threat for British paratroopers at Arnhem came from American pilots.’

Mrs Ewan also noted that the students were surprised to hear that weekly wages in the 1950s were less than their lunch money.

Katherine and Jack said: ‘The lunch was interesting and that it was an honour to speak to veterans in a relaxed atmosphere. I felt pleased with myself as I haven’t won anything before and it was especially pleasing as it was in history, my favourite subject.’

Hector said: 'We have been visiting St Ninian’s for many years and hope to continue for many more. It is important to remember the sacrifices made by our comrades and the visits to St Ninian’s are part of the salutation “we will remember them”.'

Jack will keep the shield until December, when it will be formally handed over to Katherine at the school awards ceremony.

PHOTO: left to right: Hector Duff, Jack Gibney, Katherine Blenkinsop, Charlie Williams, Albert Phair and Bob Quayle.

For further information contact Andrew Wilkinson on 01624 648800.

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