North Lakes School mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme with a song

The power of singing as a tool for remembrance and unity

North Lakes School mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme with a song

On 1 July 2016, an event was held at Thiepval Memorial in France to mark the centenary of one of the deadliest battles of World War One. As one of only three Primary schools from the UK to be chosen, North Lakes School – a Sing Up Platinum Award school – helped to make the occasion more memorable through their singing and participation.

Thanks to a British Council programme designed to raise awareness of the significance of World War One, North Lakes School took part in a week of activities in the Somme region of France, with 27 children from years 5 and 6 taking part in the centenary ceremony at Thiepval. 300 British children joined 300 French children to create pieces of art, explore history, philosophy and sing together. "In the ceremony our children laid wreaths and posies on the French graves during the act of remembrance" said Martyn Soulsby, teacher at North Lakes School "and they sang the National Anthem with gusto!"

Mr Soulsby continues, "Back at school we have sang numerous songs related to WW1, a special song called Flanders Field (written by Sharon Durant) as well as French songs. We all learnt the National Anthem in school using the Sing Up tracks and sang this as part of over 10,000 voices at the Thiepval Memorial." The children involved in the ceremony sang Flanders Fields in the Lonsdale Cemetery where many soldiers from the Lonsdale Pals are buried or remembered (a local regiment to Cumbria that were based only 5 miles away from North Lakes School).

The children of North Lakes School used their voices to create a sense of solidarity among the crowd at Thiepval Memorial, showing that the important events of the Battle and its victims are not forgotten. Headteacher Mike Pincombe commented on how the children were taught about World War One and French culture: "This amazing learning opportunity is being made the basis of the school's curriculum this term. We are building a link with our French colleagues from Lehaucourt, and this project will give a great boost to our understanding of the French language as well as bringing real meaning to our History, Art, Singing and P4C work this term."

The partnerships North Lakes School has forged with schools in the Somme region will allow pupils to discuss their shared history and build friendships. "Singing is universal. During journeys children would sing songs - taking it in turns to serenade and to applaud each other" said Mr Soulsby. "They were in adoration of each other's singing - and style!"

Hear more of the children's perspective on their participation in the Somme centenary in this ITV news report.


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