Bishop Ramsey School's Somme Remembrance Concert
On the evening of Thursday, June 30th. the school held its concert entitled Keep the Home Fires Burning - Words And Music For Remembrance. Before the concert visitors were invited to look at the display in the Atrium of WW1 memorabilia and art work by students which included a cluster of clay poppies fashioned by Year 7.
Act 1 was presented in the Atrium and began with the haunting sound of a military whistle - a sound which would have signalled to the soldiers in the Somme at 7.30 am on July 1st. 1916 that it was time to go over the top into battle on that fateful day. The voices of students were heard from various places stationed around the Atrium reading the words of : Sir Edward Gray, Foreign Secretary, reflecting on the coming of war; the poem The Soldier by Rupert Brooke; Mrs. Berridge, a mother of eight sons, five of whom never returned home. Later students presented Church Parade, an extract from Joan Littlewood's Oh What A Lovely War!
After the interval Act 2 took place in the school hall. It began with a reading by a senior student of Wilfred Owen's evocative poem (often referred to as the gas poem) Dulce et Decorum Est. This was followed by the Glee Club's rendition of Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire, an ironic reflection on the contrasting war experiences of senior officers and private soldiers.
Although, by its very nature, the concert was a sombre occasion, there were some more light-hearted moments. There were opportunities for the audience to join the choir in the singing of songs popular at the time such as Tipperary and Pack Up
One notable performance of the evening was given by Nathan Pike, Year 8 and Chris Tarsey, Year 9 (pictured above) who sang They Wouldn't Believe Me,another ironic composition of the times.
The other memorable performance came from Miss Elaine Neal who read the very poignant poem Perhaps by Vera Brittain which she wrote following the death of her fiance, Roland Aubrey Leighton, in 1915.
The audience then joined the choir in singing Keep The Home Fires Burning as poppy petals descended from above. Mr. Andrew Wilcock, Head Teacher, then read the famous poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae. The concert then drew to a close with Land Of Hope And Glory. There was a retiring collection for The British Legion Poppy Fund.
The concert was devised by Miss Elaine Neal (Senior Librarian), Mr. Andy Jeffries (Head of History) and Mrs. Helen Simmons (Head of Drama) with assistance from other members of staff. It was a fitting tribute to the thousands of men who gave their lives for king and country in the bloodiest battle in British military history.