On Friday 11 November 2022, the whole school gathered for Remembrance Day. Our event highlighted how ordinary men do extraordinary things so that we don’t have to.
We are honoured that the Westbourne Family has many connections with those who have served for our country and those who have lost their lives. Our special guests included Old Westbournian, Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Ed Colver MBE and Colour Sergeant, Anthony Watson (retd) who is the dad of our SENDCo, Miss Lillywhite. We are proud that they have both served in the forces for 18 years respectively.
Mr Colver read the Paratroopers’ Prayer. Written by a French paratrooper in 1943, this powerful poem talked about finding the strength to do the most difficult things – a lesson which could apply to our pupils today. Mr Colver was a former Westbourne pupil from 1983 to 1990 and served in the British army in several notable operational tours. These include Kosovo, Northern Ireland, three times in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was awarded his MBE for leadership and bravery on the frontline. He has also served in Germany, Bahrain, Oman, Canada and Poland. Mr Colver understands first-hand the casualties of war, having been hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) and having lost six soldiers in the largest single loss of life in the whole of the Afghan campaign when his tank was also blown up by an IED.
Mr Watson, a former British paratrooper laid the wreath. He joined the British Army in 1953, leaving school on a Friday and joining the services the following Tuesday. He was just 15 years old – the same age as some of our Year 10 and 11 pupils. He was in the Parachute Regiment or ‘Paras’ in 1st and 2nd Battalions and has served in the Far East, Aden, Borneo, Malaya, Cyprus, Gibraltar and Northern Ireland among others. Thanks must go to Miss Lillywhite for sharing his services log book and testimonial, which is a wonderful example to Westbourne pupils. Apparently he was the fittest soldier in the battalion. Here is an extract:
“He is smart, efficient, loyal and possess a sense of humour. He can be trusted at all times. He proved his exceptional fitness, which was never in any doubt, while leading expeditions of soldiers up and down Mount Kenya. This required determination and enthusiasm and the ability to be flexible in any unforeseen situation.”
Also at the service was Noel Lynch, our Westbourne caretaker, who was in the Royal Transport Core for 18 years. He served in Germany, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Hong Kong and Bosnia. He comes from a service family of several generations. His son, Warren Lynch has a PHD in Physics and served as a mobile radar operator in the RAF, including two tours in Afghanistan. His father served in the Royal Irish Regiment and two great uncles served in World War I.
We thank you for joining us at this special morning to remember those who have lost their lives in times of war.
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them.”
An extract from the poem, For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), published in The Times newspaper on 21 September 1914 at the beginning of World War 1, also known as The Great War when an unprecedented 16 million soldiers and civilians were killed.