At the end of March, two lucky Year 10 students from Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy headed off, with two students from the twenty-five other academies from the Ormiston Academies Trust family, on a four day, all expenses paid, Battlefields Tour to France and Belgium.
The trip, co-ordinated by Ormiston Academies Trust, in conjunction with UCL Institute of Education and tour operator, Equity, part of Inspiring Learning, gave the two students, Emma Bygrave and Jessica Davies, the opportunity to research the life of a local soldier from Runcorn who fought in World War 1. Their chosen soldier was Private Ephriam Goodier, originally of Halton Road, and both before and during the trip, the students were able to develop their research project as they visited a wide variety of cemeteries, museums and memorials, dedicated to those who took part and fell in The Great War of 1914-18.
What was already a very emotional and profoundly memorable experience for the students became even more moving and poignant when they eventually discovered his death recorded, at the age of 19, on one of the memorial walls at Tyne Cot Cemetery, a Commonwealth War Graves Commission burial ground for the dead of the First World War in the Ypres Salient on the Western Front. It is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world, being the resting place of nearly 12,000 soldiers.
Intrigued to find out more about their local hero and his life, both as a soldier and outside of the military sphere, Emma and Jessica will now continue their research and conduct further investigations, along with History teacher, Hannah Pauline, who accompanied them on the trip, to create videos, blogs, BBC School Reports and reports for the local community and primary schools, along with the other schools in The Ormiston Academies Trust.
Accompanied, not only by tour guides but also by currently serving soldiers, the students were also honoured to visit Passchendaele Memorial Museum, Neuve Chapelle, Fromelles and Thiepval memorials, all of which brought home to them the stark reality of the scale and devastation of The First World War.
A very moving experience was shared by all when they attended the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, which takes place every night at 8pm for those who are still missing from the war. This gave the students time to reflect on the devastating number of losses and the enormous sacrifices made by soldiers for the sake of future generations. Further visits took place to Flanders Field Museum, and Lijssenthoek Cemetery and students also made a clay model to commemorate the 600,000 Belgians who lost their lives in the Great War.
Teacher Hannah Pauline said "Our students began to realise why this was indeed called a world war, with so many of our Commonwealth Countries involved and, just like Private Goodier, so many sacrificing so much for King and country. It was also a privilege to work with students from all of the other academies in the Ormiston family. Coming from all over the country, they all had different soldiers to research and the passion and commitment displayed, not only by Emma and Jessica, but by all students and accompanying staff and adults, was admirable. If any members of the public have any information on Private Goodier, this would sincerely help our students with their investigations and we would appreciate you contacting myself at OBA on 01928 711643."