St John’s College commemorates the 75th Anniversary of D-Day

On Thursday 6 June, to mark the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, Reuben Smallwood (age 15), a boarding student at St John’s College in Southsea, had the honour of attending and speaking at the Remembrance Service on Juno Beach, France.

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13th June 2019 — Reuben read a piece in front of the D-Day veterans, the Prime Ministers of France and Canada and the Head of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, as well as a number of other international political guests. He received praise from the Australian Embassy that not only the Australian Ambassador, but also the German and Belgium Ambassador remarked on his poignant delivery of his presentation.

Ruben said, “At the request of the Australian Embassy, I represented the young people of Australia at Juno Beach, where I presented a speech that I wrote to pay my respects to those who had fought for us. During my speech I spoke of the sacrifice of the heroic soldiers who fought right there on those beaches and the ensuing peace that they afforded us from their sacrifice. I did this because I believed it to be a great honour and a humbling experience.”

As a member of Portsmouth Sea Cadets, he wore his uniform for his speech and was a great ambassador for St John’s College.

Junior School pupils from St John’s College also joined the D-Day commemorations as they took part in the production of ‘The Key Note of Everything to be SIMPLICITY’ on the Friday evening. This event saw a number of local schools work with composer James Olsen and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to create a new and unique performance that followed the story of two D-Day veterans and their experiences through the war. With a combination of video, song, narration and music from the orchestra, it took the audience back in time to the D-Day landings.

Phoenix Hawkes (age 10), who took part in the performance, said, “I think it’s really important to commemorate D-Day so we can remember the soldiers who fought and died for our country.” William Collie (age 10) commented, “When watching the video of the veterans, I was really surprised how young they were when they went to war and how they wanted to go because they wanted to fight for their country – they weren’t scared, but excited!”

Unfortunately, the performance that Senior School students from St John’s College were due to attend was cancelled due to the poor weather. However, with 600 students from Portsmouth Schools ready to perform, the choirs were still able to sing their song in the marquee for the school and event staff to hear.

Mrs Mary Maguire, Head of St John’s College, commented “Portsmouth played a key point in the D-Day commemorations and it was an honour for our students to participate in remembering through who fought and died for our country.”


About St John's College

St John’s College is an independent day and boarding school for girls and boys aged 2 – 18, located in the heart of Southsea. At St John’s College we offer a unique atmosphere and a caring community where every student is encouraged to set high standards in all they do in order to challenge themselves to realise and fulfil their potential. We pride ourselves on the academic achievements of our students and are proud of the value that we add to these results.

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