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Young people prepare for unique remembrance service

Young people from Germany and the Black Country will come together to remember those who served and fell in the First and Second World Wars at a special service on Friday (31 October, 2014).

They will stand shoulder to shoulder at the Service of Remembrance and Reconciliation at the Cenotaph in St Peter's Square, Wolverhampton.

It has been organised by Royal British Legion's City of Wolverhampton Central Branch, Wolverhampton Ex-Service Council, High Arcal School in Sedgley and the Academy of English in Oldenburg, Germany.

It will see a dozen young people from both High Arcal and the Academy of English join together for a dual language service, beginning at 11am with a parade of standards featuring the students from the 2 schools.

Prayers will be said, followed by the Kohima Homily, Last Post and a minute's silence. Students will then mark the remarkable event on Christmas Day 1914 when British and German soldiers sang Silent Night to one another across No Man's Land. Young people from the Academy of English will sign the German version, Stille Nacht, before the High Arcal School youngsters perform it in English.

Finally, the students will join together to lay wreaths at the base of the cenotaph, which was erected in "Grateful Memory of Wolverhampton Men Who Served in the Great War".

Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Mike Heap said: "It's important that today's generation of young people never forget the sacrifices that their ancestors made in what were terribly dark times in the history of both our nations."

Dr John Goodyear, Director of Studies at the Academy of English, said: "That German and British youngsters will stand side by side at this event is deeply symbolic. It shows, as a nation, that we remember the past, but have it in us to reconcile our differences and build partnerships that are based on trust, friendship and cooperation."

Lyndon Purnell, chair of the Royal British Legion's City of Wolverhampton Central Branch, added: "This will be a wonderful chance for young people from the Black Country to meet their counterparts in Germany and share each other's culture.

"We're hoping there will be a good turnout at this historic event, and I'd encourage families from across Wolverhampton to come along and be a part of it."

High Arcal School Deputy Headteacher Sukhjot Dhami said: "The school is delighted to be taking part in the service of remembrance in such a historic and symbolic year.

"As a school we intend to have a series of events planned to remember the soldiers that fought in the Great War from all cultures and nationalities and will be hosting a special day of remembrance on 11 November that will involve the whole school."

Since 2010, High Arcal School and the Academy of English have established a strong international partnership that brings together staff and students from both countries every year. Most recently, students from the Black Country enjoyed a period of work experience in Oldenburg where they became English Language Teaching Assistants in a number of state schools.

The service at the cenotaph is one of the highlights of a 10 day visit to the Black Country by the students from the Academy of English. During their time in England, they will also spend time meeting members of the emergency services as well as visiting other local sites.

  • released: Wednesday 29 October, 2014