Letter from the Headmaster, 8 November 2018

Thursday 8 November 2018

Dear Parents

On Friday 9 November we will be marking Remembrance at Abingdon. We will hold services and assemblies and then gather at 11am in front of Big School, where the Combined Cadet Force will parade and we will share two minutes of silence.

The Combined Cadet Force will also be represented at the service in St Helen’s Church, Abingdon, at 10am on Sunday 11 November, after which they will form part of the parade to the town war memorial for a short service at 11am. There will also be a joint concert of music and readings at St Helen’s and St Katharine’s, starting at 7pm, where the Joint Choral Society will perform Mozart’s extraordinary Requiem. Tickets are free and can be obtained here. There will be a retiring collection in support of the Poppy Appeal.  

This evening, 8 November, at 7pm in the Amey Theatre our senior drama scholars will tell the story of the Great War, as experienced by the Abingdon School community. It is told in a selection of readings drawn from the School's archive, supported by photographs, images and music to evoke the experience of a school community as it attempts to make sense of events unfolding in France and beyond. This is a free event; no booking is necessary and all are welcome. Our History department will also be giving a lecture at the end of the school day, today, on the local history of the Great War.

Remembrance is always a powerful and poignant occasion and of course this year we mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice and the end of the Great War.  A memorial in the School Chapel lists the names of Abingdon pupils and staff who died in the First and Second World Wars and it is always enormously moving to read the names and reflect on their sacrifice. It is extraordinary to reflect on the sheer number of names on the memorial; the School was far smaller than it is today. Parents may be interested to read more about Abingdon during the First World War on our archive pages on the website. This includes a remarkable photo of 21 members of the Boat Club, taken in March 1914. By the end of the war, nine of those had been killed.  

An Abingdon parent has made a powerful short film focusing on the four boys who made up the 1st crew in 1914 and their coach; three of the crew and the coach perished in the Great War. It intercuts narrative about the boys and their teacher with footage of our Boat Club today, reminding us of just how young the combatants were who went off to war, and how terrible the effect of their demise must have been on their families and the school community. You can view the film on the school website.

The School’s archivist, Sarah Wearne, has also recently finished work on a book that records the war memorials in schools like Abingdon up and down the country. It is fascinating to see how different schools of differing faiths and traditions have remembered their fallen. Seeing these memorials together reminds us of the need to continue to remember those who came before us and gave so much, and also challenges us to ensure that future generations are raised in the ways of justice and peace. We will share details of the book once it has been published.

Yours sincerely

Michael Windsor

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