Over the May Bank Holiday, the Chamber Choir girls went on an unforgettable residential trip to Ypres, in order to sing and experience history whilst paying tribute to the fallen soldiers that gave their lives during World War 1. The trip was packed with both fun and pathos, and the 21 girls from Years 5 and 6, supported by a group of adults singing the lower parts, did themselves and The Study proud with their exemplary behaviour and their moving performances, singing at various historic sites.
There were many highlights during the trip, from singing at St George’s Church in the presence of the Bishop of Gibraltar, to waffle and ice cream tasting in the charming market square of the historic town whilst listening to the historic carillon from the The Cloth Hall at its weekly recital and meeting the performer afterwards. On Saturday, the girls were privileged to sing at the renowned Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, a war memorial dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives in the Ypres Salient of World War I and whose graves are unknown. The girls sang Guest’s For the Fallen the Last Post Ceremony and laid a wreath after their beautiful performance.
The following day, they girls sang a full repertoire, including introit anthem and voluntary, at St George’s Church during the Book of Common Prayer morning service and were privileged to meet the Bishop of Gibraltar who was in attendance. After the service, the Bishop, parishioners and guests listened to the trebles sing an informal concert in the beautiful gardens of the church. Following lunch at Les Halles, they travelled to the burial site at Voormezele and lay a unique Peter Pan wreath created by Mrs Zarkovic and every girl on the tour at the grave of George Lewellyn Davis, who was the inspiration behind Peter Pan (“the boy who never grew up”), and who lost his life in the Great War. The girls learned about the War Graves Commission and signed the Memorial Register. It was an absolutely perfect Spring day for this outdoor time of quiet reflection.
This was followed by a visit to the Museum at Passchendaele where the girls walked through trenches and dugouts and the poppy gardens, before having lunch and playing in the naturally landscaped sculpture playground, returning to the hotel for a well-deserved rest.
On the final day, the girls went for a sculpture making session in a proper artists’ studio and found themselves part of history when each of them created a clay soldier, created from Belgian and German soil, which will have a dog tag made with the name of the girl who created the sculpture and the name of a soldier. These dog tags will be put in a glass sculpture tube which will be displayed for perpetuity in the area of No Man’s Land that was never gained by either side during the war. 600,000 of these clay soldiers will be created to represent the number of lives lost. This commemorative act will open April 2018 as part of the project called Coming World Remember Me. In time, the girls will receive information on the soldier that their sculpture has been assigned to, and may be invited to be a part of the opening. All monies from this art project go to support children who are currently victims of war.
Before leaving to return home to London, the girls enjoyed buying poppy souvenirs and having a grand time shopping for Belgian chocolate delights before taking the ferry home.
This was a truly memorable experience for our lucky girls, and one that will live in their memories for a very long time to come. With special thanks to Mrs Brown for organising such a fantastic trip, and to all the staff and parents who accompanied the girls and supported this wonderful experience.