On Monday 11th March, eight lucky saltash.net students travelled up to London to see the Queen! Perhaps not quite as visibly excited as Mr Oakes and Miss Dunkey (who squealed with glee all the way to Paddington), our students were very proud to be selected to be part of the 1000 strong audience of children and dignitaries from across the Commonwealth in Westminster Abbey.
Despite missing the first train due to unforeseen circumstances that even Barry Dawe’s specialist driving couldn’t avoid, the group rallied their spirits in the station cafe before embarking on the journey. The threat of snow proved unfounded and we soon arrived safely in the capital city. For most of the students, it was their first ever trip to London and so Mr Oakes had arranged for each student to have an iPod touch for the day to record their experience.
Each student also entered the Commonwealth 2013 Essay Competition to secure their ticket to this special service and had received extra English support at school in order to help them complete their submissions.
Unfortunately, when we arrived in London we received the news that the Queen was not well enough to attend the service. HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, however, was in attendance which meant that our posh frocks had not gone to waste! It must be said, our students looked extremely smart in their uniforms and freshly polished shoes and were a real credit to our school throughout the day. We sang the national anthem with thoughts of the Queen and hoped she would soon be back to full health.
The Observance Service itself was fantastic with just the right balance of pomp and contemporary content, including: a live dance show up the aisle of the Abbey; acoustic performances by Beverly Knight and The Noisettes; a poetry performance by John Agard and a speech by Sir Richard Branson, as well as prayers from leading members of seven different faiths.
What made the day really special was not just being part of a spectacular service in such an important, historic building, one that has seen the coronation, marriage and funeral of British monarchs since 1066. But that we, as a school, were part of a celebration of the Commonwealth, a group of nations who collectively celebrate: diversity, collaboration, enterprise, resilience, pride, strength and creativity – just like we do at saltash.net community school.