York Minster’s commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War began with a special event for more than 1,000 local schoolchildren.
The interactive event was organised for children aged between nine and 11 yesterday to explore what war is and included an act of commemoration, featuring the city’s memorial for those who died during the conflict – the King’s Book of York Heroes.
The book features names, biographies and photographs for 1,471 York men and women killed in service as a result of the war, including George Edwin Ellison, the last reported British soldier to die in action in the conflict. He was killed shortly before the Armistice came into effect at 11am on 11 November 1918.
The event, which was organised by York Minster and the City of York Council, is part of York Remembers; Lifting the shadow of the First World War, a city-wide programme of exhibitions, talks, performances and screenings to mark the centenary of the Armistice.
The Reverend Canon Peter Moger, the Acting Dean of York, said: “This event marks the start of a six week period of commemoration which promises to be a time of reflection, when we can remember the huge sacrifices made by all those involved in the conflict, both in York and across the world.”
Councillor Ashley Mason, who has been leading on the event with York Minster and who has organised the programme of public readings from the King’s Book, said: “This event has been 12 months in the planning and I hope it helps the children to fully understand the impact the First World War had on families in York.”
During the event, the schoolchildren explored a series of interactive workstations and took part in activities including making poppies and replicating examples of the postcards sent home by serving personnel to their families.
Members of the Royal British Legion and the York Civic Party then joined them for the activities and the act of commemoration, which included a reading by children’s author Hilary Robinson and a musical composition written by Dr Richard Shephard of Laurence Binyon’s famous poem ‘For the Fallen’. This was performed by St Olave’s School Choir.
During the commemoration, the King’s Book was be carried down the Minster’s central Nave Aisle by representatives from the Army, the Royal Air Force and York Minster’s Police team before the first names featured in the book were read out by children from Westfield Primary Community School.
Throughout the following six weeks, the names included in the King’s Book of Heroes will gradually be read out during 25 public readings at different locations in the city, finishing with the final 20 names on 11 November.
On this date, a Service of Thanksgiving and Commemoration will be held at York Minster at 9.30am, followed by the annual Service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph in the City Memorial Gardens at 11am. The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of York Cllr Keith Orrell will read the final names from the book during this service.
For the full city wide programme, visit the City of York website.