War memorial plaque appeal for school reaches target

Wreaths were laid at the KEVI war memorial during the service.
Wreaths were laid at the KEVI war memorial during the service.

A school community came together to remember former students and teachers who lost their lives fighting in major global conflicts.

And the annual service at King Edward VI School in Morpeth on Monday was also an opportunity for staff to thank Old Boys and Girls and members of the public who raised money to replace a plaque that was taken from the war memorial.

Coun David Clark, left, and Simon Taylor, executive headteacher of The Three Rivers Learning Trust, with standard bearers at the KEVI war memorial.

Coun David Clark, left, and Simon Taylor, executive headteacher of The Three Rivers Learning Trust, with standard bearers at the KEVI war memorial.

The bronze plate, inscribed with the names of students and teachers who died during the First World War, was jimmied off and stolen in September.

Following an appeal, £1,000 was collected and a new marble plaque is now in place. This will enable the funds set aside by the school to be used to enhance the security by the memorial.

The service was conducted by executive headteacher of The Three Rivers Learning Trust, Simon Taylor, and there were readings from Year 9 students and head of school Mark Simpson.

Also in attendance were people from the Edwardians Association, representatives from the Air Training Corps and Army Cadet Force, Morpeth Mayor Alison Byard and other town councillors.

Mr Taylor said that the service is extremely important as it recognises the history and traditions of the school and remembers the 58 students and couple of teachers from the then King Edward VI Grammar School who died during the First World War and the 58 pupils who were killed in the Second World War.

In addition, a former student died in the Korean War in the early 1950s. He was a member of the UN peacekeeping forces.

Mr Taylor added: “Over the years, we have continued to the vision of former grammar school headteacher George Dakyns, who commissioned the war memorial in 1922 following the devastating loss of life in the First World War.

“It moved to the new school site when the grammar school closed and it’s an enormously valued part of KEVI, so we’re deeply grateful to the former students and wider Morpeth public for their support and generosity following the theft.

“It’s a reflection of the tight-knit community in the town, which the school always benefits from, and it restores your faith in the goodness of people.”

The school is now planning to replace the remaining plaques with the same marble so they all look the same.

Town councillor David Clark, who launched the appeal, said: “I was upset and incensed by the vile actions of the thieves and after speaking to other Old Boys and Girls, we decided that we must do something to help.

“The appeal via the GoFundMe website got off to a flying start and although it went quiet for a bit, we reached our £1,000 target a few days before Remembrance Sunday thanks to a very generous donation of £250.

“I’m very humbled by the generosity of former KEVI students and Morpeth residents and we also received letters from people who said they weren’t in a position to make a financial contribution, but offered to help in other ways such as cleaning the memorial.”

Newminster Middle School and Technology College organised a whole school day of Remembrance activities earlier today to mark Armistice Day.

A ceremony that took place at the cenotaph was attended by Year 5 pupils and they laid a poppy wreath on behalf of all of the students. Their work on the day included making decorations such as bunting for a VE Day-style celebration.

The Year 6 students had a go at darning old socks, sewing on buttons and patching up holes in trousers and jumpers under the guidance of WI member Linda Jenson, who talked to them about the ‘Make Do and Mend’ campaign.

Among their other activities was singing famous wartime songs such as Pack up Your Troubles, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary and Keep the Home Fires Burning.

Year 7 travelled to Eden Camp in North Yorkshire – an open air museum that brings wartime Britain to life. Whilst there, they took part in a special Armistice Day ceremony with the RAF.

A session delivered by a Bletchley Park educational outreach worker was enjoyed by Year 8 pupils and they were able to have a close-up look at an actual Enigma Machine used during the Second World War.

Practical activities for this year group included creating their own trench art pieces and poppy wreaths using the traditional proggy method.