21st May 2012
Students take part in Armed Forces Day
STUDENTS from the Island’s secondary schools will join veterans of conflicts past and present at Armed Forces Day on Sunday 24th June.
Around 100 students from the five secondary schools will join veterans in a parade along Douglas’s promenades at 2.45pm and at the church service at the Villa Marina that follows it at 3.45pm.
It is the fifth time that schools have taken part in Armed Forces Day – a national event – and its predecessor, Veterans’ Day. Schools first got involved in 2007.
Year 9 students at St Ninian’s and Castle Rushen high schools have enjoyed visits from D-Day veteran Hector Duff ahead of the event.
Jo Ewan, subject leader in history at St Ninian’s, said: ‘Armed Forces Day brings the history of service, duty and sacrifice of the forces that is studied in the classroom, to life. Students study Manx involvement in the World Wars and the conflicts since. Armed Forces Day allows students to honour the people who fought. It is vital that the heroism and sacrifice is not forgotten by the young and students take pride in participating with those that have served their country.’
The theme of this year’s church service, which will be led by Archdeacon Andie Brown, is ‘sacrifice’ and Paul Withington, Faculty Leader for Humanities at Ballakermeen High School, said: ‘The march and service offer a poignant opportunity to show support for those who serve and have served their country. It makes a fitting tribute during a year when our students have studied the World Wars and tried to understand the sacrifices involved.’
Marine Martin Peters, who was seriously wounded in Afghanistan in 2009, has gathered together 15 of his fellow Marines, including four Manxmen, to lead the parade in full Marine dress. The men are serving with 42 Commando, the unit that has taken the heaviest casualties of any in Afghanistan.
The Manx Marines will be among 20 local serving personnel attending. Their entrance to the Villa Marina, to rapturous applause, is always an emotional part of the service.
Armed Forces Day culminates in afternoon tea and an evening of entertainment at the Villa Marina, at which students mingle with veterans.
Peter Karran MHK, Minister for Education and Children, said he was pleased that schools were playing their part in honouring armed forces personnel past and present.
‘Our young people are learning about the world’s conflicts not just through history books but also via what they see on television and read in newspapers every day and are experiencing heroism and tragedies involving young people not much older than themselves,’ Mr Karran said.
‘It is an honour for our schools to be invited to parade with, and attend the church service with, our local veterans of conflict past and present and to be a small part of this important national event.’
Brigadier Norman Butler CBE chairs the Armed Forces’ Day committee, which has the patronage of the Lieutenant Governor, President of Tynwald and the Chief Minister and is made up of representatives of all the Island’s ex-service organisations. He said:
‘Ninety per cent of the Island’s veterans served either in World War Two or during National Service, which finished in 1960, so the youngest of these is now 70. The enthusiasm of students to take part in the celebration of the service of their senior citizens and to understand what happened all those years ago is a source of great pride and comfort to every veteran.
‘It is also critically important that the banner of memory is carried forward as these old veterans inevitably fade from the scene and we hope that the youngsters taking part will do just that.
‘We must not forget those, not much older than the students marching, who are serving now in circumstances of great challenge and danger and I know that the serving personnel who take part in our big day are always impressed by the participation of so many from the schools. I congratulate everyone involved from the schools, staff and pupils alike.’
Ticket application forms are available from the Villa Marina Booking Office, the Welcome Centre at the Sea Terminal, the Veterans Agency (Markwell House), the Manx Legion and commissioners offices.