About 700 children and young people from military families in 31 North Yorkshire schools gathered at Ripon Cathedral today (Friday, 9 November) for the seventh annual Service of Remembrance.
More than 3,000 school-age service pupils live in North Yorkshire, one of the largest groups in the country, and the Service of Remembrance has become a highlight of the year, providing a chance for them to celebrate their contribution to enriching the life of the county.
This year the service formed part of the commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War. It included drama presentations by pupils from Leeming RAF Community Primary School and Bedale High School. These included readings of letters from the Front as well as children presenting their present-day experiences of service family life. The dramas, commissioned from York-based company An Invisible Man, also featured symbolic silhouettes of soldiers as part of the There But Not There commemorative campaign.
There were performances by the Dishforth Military Wives Choir and the Wensleydale School and Sixth Form Choir and a bugler from the Royal Signals Northern Band.
County Councillor Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for the Children and Young People’s Service, who attended the service, said: “It was fascinating and enlightening to hear the young people share their experiences of service family life. Their perspective enriches life in North Yorkshire. They contribute greatly to their schools and communities and share their experiences of moving from place to place and their resilience in spending lengthy periods apart from loved ones.
“We are pleased to do all we can at the county council, with our partners, to support service children in their family life and through high standards of teaching and learning as well as pastoral support in schools.”
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson, said: “Each year it is a privilege for Ripon Cathedral to host the Military Kids Club service of remembrance. This is especially so as we mark the centenary of the ending of the First World War. Each new generation needs to learn the lessons of the past.
“This particular congregation is very special, though. As children of military families, they know better than most the cost of military service even in times of relative peace. So we honour these young people and their parents, acknowledging the contribution they all make in different ways to the wellbeing of the nation.”
The county council is maintaining its significant support for the children of military families in the county’s schools at a time of continuing change for the armed forces. It employs two Service Pupils’ Champions, supported by funding from the Armed Forces Education Trust and the Ministry of Defence. Both are members of service families and operate in areas of the county where there is a concentration of service personnel, for example Ripon, Dishforth, Catterick and Richmond and Bedale. The champions provide bespoke support to families and help to develop a peer support network for children. They also provide training for school staff to raise awareness of the challenges that come with a service lifestyle.
The County Council is also working with university staff from York St John and York University to develop a hub on behalf of the Service Children’s Progression (SCiP) Alliance, which aims to support better the progression of service pupils into further and higher education, as at present they are an underrepresented group.