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Leek school children delve into the history of World War One

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: August 03, 2014

  • From the left, WW1 Project co-ordinator Hannah Barter, with Leek High students, at the front, Chloe Hall, Charlotte Turnock, and Hollie Buxton. Back from left Will Street, and Sam Leigh, all 14.

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Pupils have been joining in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

A programme of events to explore the impact on the population of Leek and the Staffordshire Moorlands during the Great War has already seen many activities take place in the town.

These have included the opening of an exhibition of artifacts and photographs at the Nicholson Institute, a tea dance in the same building, and guided walks around the town.

However, most of the activities have been carried out by schoolchildren as they have been helping to research, collate and create items for the project, which has been made possible by a £74,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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The project is being facilitated by Leek Town Council and supported by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, local schools, the Friends of Nicholson War Memorial, county library services, and the Leek branch of the Royal British Legion.

School activities have included visits to the Nicholson War memorial, St Edward's Church and the Nicholson Institute.

When students from Leek High School visited the Nicholson War Memorial, they were encouraged to be explorers, reporters, and collectors in finding information for an interactive map they are helping to create.

Chloe Hall, aged 14, said: "It is going to work around URL and QR codes and will explain different things around the town focusing on World War One."

Fellow Leek High student Will Street, aged 14, added: "We have found out quite a lot about the town. For example, I didn't realise that the Foxlowe Arts Centre used to be a hospital and that a lot of the shops have what used to be police cells underneath them."

Leek High history teacher Adam Simcock added: "I think the town's commemorative project is fantastic. It is providing enrichment for the curriculum across all year groups of our schools and it's nice to do such a project in our own town."

Students from St Edward's Academy dressed up for their wartime focused activities, which were incorporated with the schools' annual off-timetable 'Eureka Day'.

As well as the planned visits in town, students took part in school activities such as code breaking, rationing, orienteering, drama, and making poppies.

St Edward's Academy student Olivia Baron, aged 10, said: "We have found out a lot about what happened during that war including about the soldiers living in trenches which I think would have been quite scary for them."

Isabel Copsey, aged 10, said: "It has been fun dressing up for the day and making poppies, which are going to be put all around the school."

Ten-year-old Laura Riley added: "I have dressed up as a nurse from the war and I have enjoyed taking part in the code breaking activity."

A group of students from The Meadows School were treated to a guided tour of the Nicholson War Memorial.

Still to come as part of the '1914 Leek' project are further school workshops in the new Autumn term, as well as a large 'First Mile To War' parade on Saturday, September 13.

Those taking part in the parade will include a military band, 419 young people representing the fallen from Leek, members of the Armed Forces and many more. To participate or volunteer in helping with the 'First Mile To War' parade contact: Hannah@leek1914.org.

For further details about Leek's WW1 commemorative programme, go online to www.leek1914.org.

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