WW1 Centennial Trip

Published on 24 November 2014

WW1 Centennial Trip

A group of Year 9 and 10 students recently visited Belgium and France as part of Vandyke’s programme of events to commemorate the centennial year of the outbreak of the First World War.

After travelling via the Euro-Tunnel, we drove to Ypres in Belgium where much of the conflict took place. Ypres has been rebuilt faithfully recreating the architectural style of previous centuries, however the connection with the Great War is evident. We spent the first afternoon visiting the Menin Gate memorial – which recognises the sacrifice of 56,000 British and Commonwealth men who went missing never to return. Year 9 student Callum Buchanan had researched a relative prior to the trip and found his name on the memorial. We visited the Flanders Field Museum located in the Lakenhalle.

The second day saw a visit to an artisan waffle maker where we all observed the traditional Belgian practice of waffle making and sampled the delicious treats. The group then travelled to Arras in France. We visited the Vimy Ridge memorial where another Year 9 student, Charlotte Burrell, found the name of a relative lost in the remarkable battles in this hilly region. It was then time to travel back to Ypres for the renowned ‘Last Post’ ceremony at the Menin Gate memorial. It was a real privilege to stand in silence and listen to the buglers who have played this piece of music for 86 years in gratitude to the British troops for the liberation of Belgium. It provided time for reflection on what we had witnessed and the stories we had absorbed, and many of the group felt a wave of emotion as the music began.  This part of Europe is a living example of the futility of war, but also the selfless sacrifice made by many just one hundred years ago.

We further sampled the culinary delights of French cuisine at a traditional bakery where we  discovered the art of bread and croissant making and were entertained by the amusing, but also slightly crazy, baker. We also visited the port of Boulogne the sealife centre there. The next day we travelled to Paris and drove around all the major sites such as Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, Assemblée Nationale, Musée d’Orsay and we ate our packed lunch in the Jardin des Tuileries. After lunch we enjoyed a lovely river boat cruise which took us past many of the famous sights of Paris such as la Tour Eiffel and Notre Dame. Finally we went to the top of Tour Montparnasse for an amazing view of Paris, including the iconic Eiffel Tower.

Our final day we spent at Eurodisney which all the students thoroughly enjoyed and it was a welcome treat after the intensive learning of French and the thought provoking reflections on the events and aftermath of World War One.

Year Ten student Ella Ashwell reflected ‘I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and would happily do it again. Speaking French in real-life situations has really improved my language skills, and it was wonderful to learn about history away from the classroom.’ Catherine Daly, also in Year Ten, commented ‘I would highly recommend this trip to anyone studying History or French at GCSE. We learnt so much – and had a great time!’

Students will have an array of memories from this wonderful trip: good natured coach drivers Steph and Tony, superb linguistic master classes, Mrs Akers-Jarvis’s heartfelt emotion at the ‘Last Post’ ceremony, Mr Hazlewood’s love of conservation and sea life and hatred of Disney and rollercoasters, Mrs Collins’ enthusiasm for ‘It’s a Small World’ and unending patience as First Aid Extraordinaire, Akers-Jarvis Vs Hazlewood rivalry in the coach quiz and last, but not least, truly staggering dancing to the Disney Parade from Mrs Quinn, Madam Rhoden and Mrs Akers- Jarvis.  The staff team will remember a lovely group of students who represented the school impeccably at every opportunity. It was a great opportunity to get to know so many of you who are new to Vandyke. You did us proud.

Mrs Quinn