Activities and events to mark war centenary

Harmston WI members in front of the First World War memorial plaque during their Autumn Fair. EMN-181030-151706001
Harmston WI members in front of the First World War memorial plaque during their Autumn Fair. EMN-181030-151706001

On November 9, pupils from two Sleaford area primary schools will be among 350 children from 12 schools at the International Bomber Command Centre near Lincoln for the annual Children’s Service of Remembrance.

The centenary of the end of the First World War makes this service especially poignant and it will help define the need and importance of Remembrance.

Local councillors getting behind the John Magee Junior Memorial at Wellingore. EMN-181030-151314001

Local councillors getting behind the John Magee Junior Memorial at Wellingore. EMN-181030-151314001

Navenby CofE School and Coleby Primary School are among the schools designing their own wreaths as part of their Remembrance learning and are also taking part in a poetry competition with the winners reading their poems as part of the service.

The children will then place poppies in the Memorial Walls, learning about those they are marking with the help of specially created biographies incorporating pictures of the fallen. These biographies have taken a team of 40 volunteers three years to create, according to IBCC chief executive Nicky Barr. This year the Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire Schools programme is helping with school transport costs.

○ Pebbles decorated with poppies are finding their way into the community to be passed around the country to help commemorate the 72 former William Alvey School pupils from Sleaford who fought and died in the First World War.

Project 72 was a community project aimed at tracking down the names of the 72 children who attended William Alvey School and then went on to fight and tragically die for their country in the war. Their names were originally written on a special scroll that the local paper, the Sleaford Journal, reported was unveiled at the school on May 24, 1922 on Empire Day.

A Poppy Pebble found in Sleaford. EMN-181030-151219001

A Poppy Pebble found in Sleaford. EMN-181030-151219001

Over the ensuing years the scroll was lost, but some of the schoolchildren recently cross referenced church and civic monuments with the old school register to find as many names as they could.

A memorial plaque was erected outside the school and a replacement scroll was presented to St Denys’ Church last year.

Now 72 ‘Poppy Pebbles’ - each with the name of one of the Alvey fallen - have been hidden in and around Sleaford. It is part of a wider nationwide initiative of Poppy Pebbles, organised by Emma Jones, remembering the war dead and promoted via Facebook. Each time someone finds a pebble they re-hide it somewhere else to be found.

Headteacher Stephen Tapley said one pebble dedicated to George Ellis of Sleaford had already been found in Southgate and was now making its way up to Washington, in Tyne and Wear.

○ A cluster of nine villages along ‘The Cliff’ from Leadenham to Bracebridge Heath have been marking three centenaries over the past week: RAF100, Armistice and the first women getting the right to stand for parliament and to vote.

The Cliff Cluster of Parish Councils organised a week where each of the villages put on an event to mark this very significant year.

Events started with a library coffee morning in Coleby and culminated in a grand exhibition at the Venue, Navenby, put together by the Navenby Centenary Team.

Coleby’s display reflected its RAF connections and included a special commemorative cake. The event was well suported by residents, said local county councillor Marianne Overton.

Leadenham Teahouse put on a special commemorative morning tea party.

St Andrew’s Church at Boothby Graffoe held a special Harvest Service and hot supper.

Harmston WI put on an Autumn Fair. The Joiners Arms at Welbourn hosted a successful family fun afternoon.

Coun Catherine Mills, of the Red Lion in Wellingore, hosted an event with a talk on John Gillespie Magee Jr. from Simon Devenish of the John Magee Memorial Committee.

Malcolm Smith and Simon Devenish displayed information and a marquette of John Gillespie Magee, famous for writing the poem “High Flight”. He flew Spitfires and served at RAF Wellingore, but died aged 19 in a mid-air crash over Bloxholm. A bronze statue of him is to be placed on the Mill Field in Wellingore.

The Navenby Centenary Team filled the Venue clubroom with memorabilia from various collections. Donations were to the Poppy Appeal and SAAFA.