Two Rugby teenagers have made an emotional visit to First World War battlefields and memorials to pay their respects.
Avon Valley pupils Rhiannon Ryan and Sophie Crane, both in Year 9, travelled with history teacher Angela Greenway students and a member of staff to Belgium as part of a government-backed First World War centenary programme.
During the four-day visit , the group made an unscheduled stop at the Vlamertinghe cemetery near Ypres so that Sophie could visit the grave of her grandmother’s cousin who died in August 1917 aged 20.
The students had opportunity to reflect at a number of memorials which included witnessing the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate, during this ceremony Sophie was selected to lay a wreath.
Sophie said: “To be given the chance to lay a wreath at Menin Gate was a truly moving, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Rhainnon and Sophie were selected for the visit after the school’s history department ran a competition in which students wrote an essay based on the First World War.
Among the other emotive locations Rhiannon and Sophie visited were visited were Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries at Lijssenthoek, Langemark, Thiepval Wood, Mill Road and Tyne Cot.
They learnt about the conflict during workshops and visits to the Passchendaele Memorial Museum. The pair also visited the battle sites at Vimy Ridge and the Lochnager Crater.
Mrs Greenway said: “It makes me proud to be British and to be part of the Commonwealth as we look after our war dead so well in the cemeteries”
More information on First World War Centenary programme can be found by visiting http://www.centenarybattlefieldtours.org/about-us/