Children will perform self-penned song at Remembrance service

This story was published 8 November 2021

Pupils from North Yorkshire schools will gather at Ripon Cathedral on Friday, 12 November, for a Remembrance service for children of military services personnel.

Students at The Wensleydale School & Sixth Form

This year’s service will celebrate 100 years of the Poppy, tying in with the 100th anniversary of the Royal British Legion. The children’s contributions will reflect that and will include a display of Poppy-themed art created by pupils at many schools across the county.

This is the ninth of the Ripon Cathedral services organised by our Service Children's Champions, who support the county’s large number of service children.

Highlights will include a performance of a song about the centenary of the Poppy written by members of Wensleydale School choir, who have been working with the Never Such Innocence project, a charity that gives Service children a creative outlet. The students have taken part in workshops run by Bethzienna Williams, who was a finalist on the television singing competition, The Voice.

Wensleydale School music teacher Josh Hadfield said: “Remembrance means so much to us all here at The Wensleydale School & Sixth Form, especially as we live so close to Cattrick Garrison and RAF Leeming and we have a large number of military families within our school community.

“We are delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to perform in the Remembrance Service in Ripon Cathedral and to work with the Never Such Innocence project and Bethzienna to write our own song to commemorate 100 years of the poppy. We are looking forward to sharing our performances, while also remembering those who have given their lives and continue to fight for our freedom.”

The service will also include performances from the Northern Military Kids Club Choir. Second World War veteran Ken Cooke will read In Flanders Fields and Maj Gen Charlton-Weedy CBE DL, county president of the Royal British Legion, will attend as the Queen’s representative.

The Service Children's Champions have been working closely with Never Such Innocence, and founder Lady Lucy French OBE will be at the service. This has included art and poetry workshops with schools. Children will read poems they have written and their art will be displayed in the cathedral.

The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobon DL said: “Ripon Cathedral is delighted to be hosting this service for the children of military families across North Yorkshire. This is such a worthwhile event with which we always love being engaged. This year, it has a special added dimension as we celebrate the centenary of the British Legion and of the poppy being used as a symbol of remembrance.

“A message I always like to communicate at this service is that the children themselves are special. Military personnel are only able to give of their best when their families understand the significance of their responsibilities and are supportive. The children, like spouses, in military families therefore make an important contribution to the wellbeing of our nation and we do well to thank them.”

Last year’s event had to be held virtually, because of Covid-19 restrictions, but still reached more than 1,000 service pupils. This year, as a Covid precaution, fewer children than usual will be invited to the Cathedral, but the service will be streamed live to schools across North Yorkshire.

North Yorkshire County Council chair Cllr Stuart Martin, who will be attending, said: “While it is important to continue to observe Covid precautions, being back in the Cathedral will allow a return to the traditional colour and vibrancy that makes this service so special. It will give the young people who have put in so much effort the perfect platform on which to showcase their work.”

County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, Executive Member for Education and Skills, added: “This annual service gives us all an opportunity to consider the experience of service children and their often challenging lifestyle, as well as celebrating the work of their parents and guardians.”

Schools taking part at the Cathedral are: Alanbrooke; Bedale High School; Bolton on Swale; Great Ouseburn; Hipswell; Holy Trinity; Hunton Arrathorne; Le Cateau; Leeming RAF; Moorside; Outwood Ripon; Ripon Cathedral School; Ripon Grammar; Richmond; Risedale; Romanby; St Francis Xavier; St Wilfrid’s and Wensleydale.

Service Children's Champion Jess Greenhalgh said: “We thank everyone who is contributing to the service. It’s an event that gives Service children the opportunity to have their voices heard and allows all of us to celebrate their presence in the county. As Service Children’s Champions, we are here to spread awareness of this special group of children, but also to support the emotional well-being and social development of Service children and young people in schools, as well as act as a bridge between schools, the local authority and the Armed Forces.”

Find more information about Service Children’s Champions.