SWANMORE College welcomed hundreds of visitors to their First World War commemorative exhibition.
Scout groups, families, veterans and dignitaries were able to see a range of First World War work which students in Year 7 and 8 had produced to honour those involved in the conflict.
On display was a range of creative and written work about either a family member or local person who had been involved in the conflict.
Organiser and head of history, Megan Thomas, said: ‘Last year myself and students visited the First World War battlefields in Ypres . It was wet and we all got pretty cold. It gave us a little insight into what conditions in the trenches would have been like. After that visit I decided we needed to do something as a school to commemorate the centenary.’
Ms Thomas felt that commemorating armistice as an exhibition enabled the centenary to be recognised but also provided a showcase for students learning.
Year 8 student, Evie Gallagher, 12, said: ‘I found out my great-grandfather, George Wilson, fought in the war. He worked in the tunnels. Learning about him was both interesting and upsetting.’
Evie’s father, David Gallagher, was particularly impressed with how the exhibition commemorated veterans such as his grandfather.
‘It is brilliant to see all the stories about the different people. My grandfather ended up living with us and he would talk to me about his experience. It is important for the children to see this. It is vital they are aware of the sacrifices made by previous generations,’ explained Mr Gallagher.
Phoebe Reynolds, 13, found out her family member was not so fortunate to survive the war.
‘I found out that my great great uncle, Philip Grigs, died in the Battle of the Somme at 19. I realised he was really brave and felt proud of what he did. Before this project I didn’t even know he existed,’ she explained.
Headteacher, Kyle Jonathan, believes the exhibition was an ideal way to connect pupils with their past.
‘This is a way of engaging children to think about their ancestors. The exhibition is amazing and displays an incredible amount of work,’ he said.
The exhibition also included a recreated trench, military vehicles, authentic costumes and even examples of the compounds used in chemical warfare. The Riffles Living History Society also brought along a range of artefacts including weapons, gas masks, ration packs and personal items from life in the trenches.
Society member, Phil Curtis, said: ‘The children have been really interested and have been asking lots of questions. It is unbelievably important to remember what took place.’
Year 10 student, Max Grundy, 14, had come to speak to visitors about his WW1 medal collection.
‘I have a real interest in the war and so I bought these medals from an antique shop. The belonged to Percy J Radley who fought in the war,’ explained Max.
A number of more recent war veterans also attended the exhibition and brought with them a range of historical guns for children to see.
Army parachute regiment veteran, Vic Thorm, said :’It is important to remember the vast death tolls involved as people need to understand the realities of war.’
Mayor of Eastleigh, Bruce Tennent, believes as well as commemorating those lives lost it is important to learn from mistakes of the past.
‘I am really impressed with exhibition and it is good to see so many people here. It is important we don’t forget and learn from past mistakes,’ explained Cllr Tennent.
‘It is important we remember those who sacrificed their lives for us,’ added Max.