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News > School News > 2022 Service of Remembrance

2022 Service of Remembrance

'At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them'
14 Nov 2022
Written by Huw Richards
School News
Chapel Yard
Chapel Yard

It was an honour to represent the OBA - current and departed - at yesterdays Service of Remembrance.

A most poignant sermon from the Head, Gareth Pearson, and one of the best Last Post played by C. Gedge I had heard over the past 50 years! The choir was also in full voice especially the anthem - Greater Love Hath No Man by John Ireland.


I think it is really important that, as part of any education, pupils learn to show appreciation and gratitude in all aspects of life. Gratitude is the very foundation of good manners in any culture. This no never more important than on Remembrance Day.

We have a Book of Remembrance which contains the names of those that died in war, beautifully and carefully scribed in a book that we treat with the utmost of respect and care. This is why the small act of ceremony is included in today's service where the book of Remembrance is presented by an OB on behalf of all those who have ever attended the school, escorted by Major Kerr, the SSI of the CCF and proud veteran himself.

Through this ceremony, we show those whose names are scribed so beautifully in the book, and their families the honour their sacrifice deserves.

Throughout the world's history there are times when people are in grave danger: often this is due to war, but it can also be during crisis such as the recent COVID pandemic. At these times, when we feel most scared, most vulnerable, all of our human instincts are to keep ourselves and our families safe. We move away from the danger.  

Yet, at these moments, there are men & women who do the exact opposite: their duty requires them to run towards the danger and in doing so, some, sadly, pay the ultimate sacrifice and lose their life. They take this action not for themselves but for others.

Traditionally, on Remembrance Day, we remember those that served in the Armed Forces: the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. It is right that we recognise their service. It is also right that we also recognise the other services whose duty requires them to run towards danger in order to keep us all safe.

The Police Officers who tackle dangerous criminals every day;

The Fire Officers & other emergency services who enter burning buildings, rescue people at sea or, more locally, rescue those in trouble in the mountains

The doctors and nurses who during COVID risked infection in order to save lives.

At this time, for those in Ukraine, ordinary men and women, who stopped their regular life to fight to protect their country, their people and their families.

The reading of the Roll of honour is such a moving act of Remembrance. The shear length of the list of names, the fact that it takes us so long to simply read their names is heart wrenching in itself. I always get particularly moved by the names of those from the same family: Arthur Best; Frank Best; Stephen Best. For that family, that poor family who lost not 1 son but 3. What unimaginable pain and loss that mother, that father must have felt as that dreaded letter dropped through the letter box for the first time, then again…and again.

As a Head I can't help but wonder what these boys were like at school. Were they naughty? Were they sporty? Were they popular? Or shy? My guess is they would have been typical kids doing what kids do. Every week they would have been sat on these very benches where you are sat today, probably listening to their Head giving them a sermon, with them half listening, half day-dreaming about what might be for tea, or girls or whatever else teenage boys day dream about.

I also can't help but imagine what their last moments were like. Where were they? What were they doing? Were they scared? What did they see and do in those final days and weeks of their life in war?

The chaplain shared a story with the senior pupils last Tuesday about the courage showed by a Marine who lept on a grenade he thought was live in order to save the lives of his troop who had in fact played a cruel prank on him. I found this story very moving, its message was one I recognised. Incredible acts of bravery are carried out by normal people and often by the people you least expected.

This made me think about those boys whose names we heard today. Ordinary boys, leading ordinary lives who, later, often tragically soon after leaving school they found themselves on the battlefield, facing extraordinary circumstances and doing extraordinary things and in doing so losing their young life.

Serving the needs of others rather than serving yourself is the most honourable, rewarding and christian thing a person can do. For most of us, this is merely: time, effort or perhaps a gifts. Sometimes, in the most dire of circumstances, when people are at their most scared, most desperate, most in need there were people who were willing, who felt it was their duty, to give the biggest sacrifice any person can give, they gave their life.

For these people, by wearing a poppy, by reading their name once a year, by having a minutes silence we say:

'We see what you did, we recognise what you gave and we say thank you the only way we now can, by remembering.'                     



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