Students unveil new garden of remembrance on Armistice Day

Longsands garden of remembrance

Neil Owen, head, and Jon Wayman, head of history, at the new garden of remembrance at Longsands Academy with students Jessica, 12, and Markuss. 11. - Credit: Archa nt

Remembrance has come a step closer to home for students at Longsands Academy in St Neots - they have just unveiled a special garden dedicated to those killed in conflict and also to classmates and members of staff who have died.

Year 9 student Isaac played The Last Post on his trumpet to mark the opening of the remembrance garden which took place on Armistice Day.

History teachers Jon Wayman and Nic Zoylinos, used their spare time to create a mural depicting silhouetted soldiers walking through the Somme battlefield and 400 wooden crosses with poppies were planted in the garden by Year 8 volunteers, many containing messages from Year 7 students, who have been researching soldiers that died in war.

The crosses contain personal messages from students thanking the soldiers for their sacrifice and poppy seeds were planted to flower in the summer term.

The garden was opened during the school’s act of remembrance which took the form of a whole school assembly in which Neil Owen, headteacher of Longsands, which is part of the Astrea Academy Trust, spoke of the importance of remembrance.

Mr Owen said: “I am extremely proud of what the students and staff have achieved. I think it will be a very special place.”

Student Jessica, 12, said: “I think it is very important to remember and to appreciate what they did for us. I think it is nice.”

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Markuss, 11, said students had carried out research with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to find out more about soldiers who had lost their lives.

Mr Wayman said: “In the past we have taken students on battlefield tours to France and Belgium but we haven’t been able to do that because of Covid.

“We don’t even know if we will be able to do that again so it is good to have a memorial here.”

Mr Wayman, head of history, said: “In addition, we have had a number of tragedies involving staff and students and this will give us a chance to remember them also.”

During the ceremony he spoke of importance of the role played by overseas countries, including India, during the First World War and the heroic deeds of soldiers such as Ganga Singh and Khudadad Khan.

Students reflected on the work of Vera Brittain, feminist, poet and novelist, and the loss she experienced in the war.