More than 730 children of Armed Forces personnel stationed in North Yorkshire gathered at Ripon Cathedral today (Friday, 10 November) for their own festival of remembrance – while many more watched a livestream of the event.
The cathedral’s altar was decorated with more than 300 poppy mandalas created by students during 16 workshops at schools in the months leading up to the festival.
Also on display was the Welcome to Our World photo exhibition, which featured more than 100 entries to a Month of the Military Child photo challenge earlier this year, plus new art and writing contributions from Colburn Primary School and Leeming RAF Primary School.
Pupils from 24 of the county’s schools attended the service, which was the 11th event to be organised by North Yorkshire Council’s service children’s champions, who support youngsters in the county’s large number of families involved in the military services. For the second year, the service was livestreamed, to enable as many as possible of the county’s 3,560 service children to view it.
To tie in with the Welcome to Our World theme, each school took a globe to represent their place in the world.
Contributions to the service came from the St Francis Xavier School in Richmond, the Wensleydale School Choir, the Service Children’s Community Choir and Nepalese dancers from Le Cateau Community Primary School. Prayers were read by pupils from Hipswell Primary School. Dandelion Poem, celebrating the official flower of the military child, was read by Dora Greenhalgh from Great Ouseburn Primary School and Seren Campbell from Wensleydale School. There were readers and standard bearers from Richmond School and Sixth Form College and wreath layers from Wavell Primary School and Risedale School.
Executive member for children and families, Cllr Janet Sanderson, said: “Each year, these services are not only a poignant act of remembrance, but a beautiful celebration of the identity and achievements of the military children whose families make such an important contribution to our county.
“After so many years, the services have become an integral part of the calendar for many schools with service pupils on roll. They give this wonderful group of children and young people the opportunity to make their voices heard.”
Among the schools to take part in poppy-making workshops was Risedale School in Hipswell. The head of art, Jaime Westwood, said: “The pupils loved making them and are so proud to have been able to contribute to an event which means so much to our community.”
Year 9 pupil Daniel Hibbins added: “It was a lovely way to remember the sacrifices that have been made by service personnel, to make my world a better place.”
Executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said: “In the region of 230 schools around North Yorkshire have service children on roll. The schools work throughout the year to support their needs with pastoral care, working alongside our service children’s champion.
“It’s lovely to see this culminate in projects like these workshops, and the wonderful poppy display, to which so many children contributed, was particularly impressive.”
The event was hosted by The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson DL, Canon Matthew Pollard and Grahame Shepherd, former head of Le Cateau School, who received an MBE for his work in getting Service Pupil Premium funding established.
Dean John said: “It is always a great privilege to host this regional service for the children of military families at Ripon Cathedral. The days around Remembrance Sunday are so poignant, not least this year when we are aware of desperately tragic conflicts raging in Europe and the Holy Land.
“It is a particularly important moment for children whose parents give and risk so much through their military service for the cause of our security and world peace. The children themselves pay a price when a parent is deployed. My hope is that they will leave this service knowing that they are valued and we appreciate the contribution they make in the cause of peace.”
Among the guests were the Deputy Lord Lieutenant for North Yorkshire, Janet Garrill; Catterick Garrison’s Commander, Lt Col Charlie Anderson RA; RAF Leeming’s Station Commander, Group Captain Paul Hamilton; Cllr Sanderson; North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson; North Yorkshire Council’s corporate director of children and young people services, Stuart Carlton, and the council’s assistant chief executive for local engagement, Rachel Joyce, plus other councillors, military personnel and local dignitaries.
The event was organised by Angela Campbell, service children’s champion for North Yorkshire Council and the chair of the Service Children’s Network.
She said: “I am so honoured to have the privilege of working with service children and schools across North Yorkshire. The festival of remembrance is not only an opportunity for children to reflect and remember those who have served our country, but it is also a celebration of their identity as service children and young people and an insight into their world.”