11th November 2021 — The assembly began with a group of boys sharing their research on members of their family who fought in the First and Second World Wars. Boys also spoke about the importance of the act of Remembrance as a continuing tradition.
In 2020, to coincide with 75th anniversary of VE Day, a small group of boys produced ‘Holding the Line’: an ebook about the experiences of Kenneth Lee, a Second World War veteran and Old Boy. The boys involved, who are now in the Senior School, returned to tell the younger boys about the project. They met with Kenneth in 2019 to interview him about his time as a soldier, and his first-hand account became the basis of their ebook. The Junior Boys produced an illustrated audiobook version of ‘Holding the Line’ during lockdown in 2020, which is available to watch online.
Following his visit to Park Road, Kenneth kindly made a donation to the school and, after consultation with Year 6, the school decided to buy a bench for the quiet area of the Junior Boys’ playground in his honour.
Kenneth sadly died earlier this year aged 96, but his daughters were invited to unveil the bench on his behalf during the Remembrance Day assembly. They said, ‘It was a real privilege for him to share his story. He would love to think of you sitting on the bench watching football, as he always loved to watch sport, and talking with your friends.’
Teachers Mrs Brisk and Mrs Whittaker also shared their memories of Kenneth, reminding the boys of his message not to glorify the war, and said that the ebook based on his story will help to educate Junior Boys for years to come. They asked the boys to remember when using the bench how proud Kenneth was to fight for his country as well as the togetherness, trust and friendship he shared with his fellow soldiers. This message is echoed in the quote from Kenneth which is inscribed on the bench: ‘You eat. You sleep. You fight. You share a slit trench. Oh yes. They are your best of friends. The camaraderie is absolutely unique. There’s nothing like it.’
At 11 o’clock, the boys came together outdoors on the playground, close to Kenneth’s bench, to hold a two minute silence in remembrance of those who have fought and died in wartime.