Hartlepool student honours fallen at Last Post ceremony

Harry Stephens, 13, who attends the Hartlepool Pupil Referral Unit, was one of four students chosen to lay a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.
Harry Stephens, 13, who attends the Hartlepool Pupil Referral Unit, was one of four students chosen to lay a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.
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A Hartlepool student travelled to Belgium to take part in a Last Post Ceremony to honour the fallen from the First World War.

Harry Stephens, 13, who attends the Hartlepool Pupil Referral Unit, was one of four students chosen to lay a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres on March 1.

Harry Stephens, 13, who attends the Hartlepool Pupil Referral Unit, was one of four students chosen to lay a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Harry Stephens, 13, who attends the Hartlepool Pupil Referral Unit, was one of four students chosen to lay a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

The trip was part of the government-funded First World War National Centenary Education Programme, which mixes schools and children from all backgrounds, to honour the centenary and create a lasting legacy through those who attend.

The ceremony, which takes place every night of the year, is attended by buglers from the Ypres Volunteer Fire Brigade, who sound the Last Post before a minute’s silence is held to remember those who lost their lives.

Harry, flanked by a serving soldier from the British Army, laid a wreath as a mark of respect on behalf of the group, which included 17 schools from across the North East who had taken up a free place on the First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme.

The Government scheme which is jointly provided by the UCL Institute of Education and Equity, runs through to spring 2019.

“It was really nerve-racking, but I kept thinking how proud I’d make my grandad,” Harry said.

The tribute extended to all the soldiers Harry had learned about during the four-day tour, including Lance Sergeant Charles Jarman, who came from Hartlepool and served in the Durham Light Infantry.

Charles was killed on September 21, 1917, aged just 24. He is commemorated at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium.

Another site pupils visited was Lochnagar Crater in the Somme, created when a huge mine was detonated by British forces at 7.28am on July 1, 1916.

David Paul, head of maths, was one of two teachers from Hartlepool PRU who accompanied the tour.

He said: “We researched a local soldier prior to coming on this tour.

“It was great because we built up a picture of what life must have been like for Charles before he joined up.

“It’s fair to say Harry has been out of his comfort zone during the tour.

“But he’s handled it well and both myself and Adam Ainley, the behaviour and attendance manager at the school, have been impressed by his behaviour and conduct throughout.”