Solemnity and Sincerity Mark Bede’s Remembrance Services
Our two Services of Remembrance this year were both moving and profound.
On Remembrance Sunday 9th November we held a service of reflection in the Recital Room for all boarding pupils who were present in the school over the weekend. In total we had over 200 pupils and staff from over 35 countries present for this occasion.
Mrs Belrhiti, our Head of Boarding, started our proceedings by sharing a personal reflection on the importance of remembrance with some practical ways to think in times of loss and bereavement. We all then had the opportunity to walk to the front of the room and light a small candle in remembrance of someone whom we might have lost or as a sign of love for someone we know whose health concerns us.
Many felt that they wanted to use this opportunity for symbolism and many candles were lit. In order to include our diverse international community, I had previously asked pupils if they would like to share a tradition of remembrance from their own country. It was moving to listen to some of our Russian and Ukrainian pupils stand and speak together on the importance of unity in a time of national uncertainty.
Our time together finished soon after we had stood for the 2 minute silence, relayed over iPlayer from the cenotaph in London. Everyone then departed in silence, contemplating and reflecting.
It was our great pleasure and deep honour to welcome the President of Blind veterans UK, Ray Hazan OBE and his wife, Robbie, to talk to us during assembly on Monday morning, 10th November.
Ray shared with us the experiences that led to him losing his sight and his right hand in an explosion in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s. He spoke to us for 20 minutes and the 900 or so listening ears paid absolute attention to every word.
Ray also shared with us his experience on the preceding day at the cenotaph and enlightened us by talking through what he might be thinking and feeling during the 2 minute silence at 11am on 11th November. This was particularly important for us to hear as Ray was our guest of honour at our own Service of Remembrance on Tuesday.
Almost 1000 pupils and staff gathered in silence and stood in the Sports Hall at 10:50am on the 11th. We listened to Elgar's Nimrod before a number of our school prefects and Mrs Lambeth read In Flanders' Field. Our Headmaster, Dr Maloney, then read the fourth stanza from the poem 'For the fallen', before Aidan Kerr played the last post.
We remained standing for the two minutes silence at 11am and, after the sounding of Reveille, a number of wreaths were laid at our temporary memorial, built as they had been a few days earlier in the Royal Albert Hall for the Royal British Legion's Service of Remembrance, out of drums.
Our Chair of Governors, Major-General Tony Meier OBE, along with our Head of School and a number of school prefects, followed Mr Hazan and Dr Maloney to lay wreaths.
I then read the prayer of St Francis of Assisi, Make me a Channel of Your Peace, and silence was kept by all as we filed out of the Sports Hall into the slightly overcast morning that awaited us.