A Hartlepool teenager is set to be among hundreds to pay their respects to soldiers who lost their lives during a First World War battle.
Aaron Metcalfe, 18, from Hartlepool, is one of a hundred National Citizen Service (NCS) graduates to travel to Belgium to mark 100 years since the Battle of Passchendaele at the weekend.
Aaron, who studies at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, is attending at the invitation of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
Bosses say NCS graduates will take on important roles during the commemoration, and are looking forward to putting the life skills they learned on NCS to good use.
Michael Lynas, chief executive of the NCS Trust, said: “The Centenary of Passchendaele events are an important commemoration of our shared history, and it is an honour for National Citizen Service graduates to attend and contribute to the proceedings.
“Some of them will be honouring their own relatives, some will be hearing about the extent of the atrocities for the first time, but they will all be paying their respects to those who gave their lives.”
The memorial is expecting around 4,000 people from across the UK follow their ancestors’ journey to the Western Front, which led to around 250,000 British and Commonwealth casualties.
The commemoration of the Third Battle of Ypres, commonly known as Passchendaele, will start with a traditional Last Post Ceremony on the eve of the centenary on Sunday.
Two hundred descendants will be part of the ceremony under the Menin Gate, the memorial to the missing, which bears their relatives’ names.
The following day will commemorate the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres, and will focus be on the 12,000 graves and 35,000 names on the Memorial Wall to the Missing at the CWGC Tyne Cot Cemetery, which bears witness to the ferocious battle.
The Memorial Park Passchendaele will also host a visitor experience to give an insight on what life was like both onand behind the frontlines with talks, film, musical performance, children’s poetry, battlefield artefacts including a howitzer and living history displays.