For over a hundred years we, as a nation, have fallen silent at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to honour and remember those men and women who have given service to their country in times of conflict. In too many cases these men and women paid the ultimate price, and today the staff and students of Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy joined many others around the country, and the world, in paying their respects.

Many of our students who are members of uniformed youth organisations, representing the Army Cadet Force, Air Training Corps, Scouts, Girl Guides, St John Ambulance, Fire Cadets and Boys Brigade, attended school in their service uniforms today, and played a pivotal role in the proceedings by forming an honour guard for the service. Our students were joined on parade by many local veterans and organisations, including the Fellowship of the Services and the Birtley Community Partnership, and also Deputy Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear, Major Nigel Wyrley-Birch, TD, DL.

Opening the service our Head Boy, Kieran Jackson, and Head Girl, Francesca Tough, spoke about the reasons why people go to war, and how we have a responsibility to ensure that their sacrifices mean something by ensuring that we live our lives to the full; we need to prepare the future for those who come after us and realise the dreams that many of those who came before us did not have the chance to realise.

Two of our students on parade, Amy Doolan and Aaron Metters, then poignantly read “Home at Last” by Tony Church, causing us to reflect on the impact of war on not only those who go but the families and friends they leave behind, before Paul Honour, the Head of Fleet and Turner Houses, read the names of those in our school and local community whom we personally remember; wreaths were then laid to honour all of these memories.

Enclosing an Academy-wide two-minute silence was a moving rendition of the Last Post and Reveille, performed by David Ord, before our Academy Principal, Mark Lovatt, delivered an emotive and reflective poem on the strength of comradeship and the personal choices that soldiers have to make to conclude an emotional Act of Remembrance.

After the service our guests were treated to a stirring delivery of some wartime classic songs by our very talented Year 13 singing group, causing many in the audience to sing and sway along in recollection of fond and treasured memories.

Our service was a fitting tribute to the price paid by those who came before, with an exemplary display from everyone involved. We will remember them.