Birkby Junior School, 13th October 2014

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Youngsters and Army and Navy veterans who have served their country met up at a Huddersfield school as part of World War One centenary commemorations.

Children at Birkby Junior School spent a whole week last term learning about the Great War. The result was a fascinating exhibition in the school’s main hall this week, charting a timeline of the 1914-18 conflict which cost millions of lives across Europe.

To celebrate the completion of the exhibition, the school’s head Mrs Susan Davis invited members of Huddersfield & District Army Veterans’ Association to meet pupils. Eight veterans – including 88-year-old Derek Hardy MBE, of Crosland Moor – were paired with members of the School Council, children aged between seven and 11.
The visitors then had a guided tour of the exhibition – which highlights major wartime figures including Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener, wartime poet Wilfred Owen and devoted nurse Edith Cavell – and features a specially-created cenotaph.

The stories are told in words, poetry, pictures and artwork.  Mr Hardy said it was important that children learned about war and learned the lessons of the past:

 “It’s been wonderful to be here,” he said. “The children know so much. One little girl was telling me all about the trenches, how the soldiers had to sleep in water and had no food. It’s important that we don’t forget. Wars never solve any problems and these children know it is more sensible to talk to eachother than fight eachother. It was a pleasure to be here.” 
The wartime project was led by year six teacher Michelle Anderson with the exhibition put together by teaching assistant Janet Folan. The youngsters also loved chatting to the veterans. One of them, 11-year-old Owais Rana, from Fartown, tried on a gas mask and said: “It was fun and really exciting learning about all the history and experiences.”

Ansah Sabir, 10, of Birkby, who wants to be a journalist when she’s older, said: “It was really interesting how they explained to us what they did in the war.”

Head Mrs Davis said the event had been a big success and added: “The empathy shown by the children for something that happened such a long time ago was amazing. It was so worthwhile.”

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