A moving tour of WW1 battlefields

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Two Ilkeston students said it was an “honour” to be chosen to go on a tour of World War One battlefields.

Bethan Sansome, 13, and Paulina Czyjt, 14, who attend Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy, are now planning a presentation about their experience, which they will deliver at the academy and in primary schools across Ilkeston.

They were selected for the five-day trip, which saw them visiting battlefields in Belgium and France with fellow students from Ormiston academies across the country.

The battlefields tours are part of a government programme to involve students in commemorating the centenary of World War One.

Bethan and Paulina researched two local figures - Private Marshall Swain, who lived in Ilkeston and was killed in action along with his brothers and Ilkestonian Francis Leonard Hunter Jackson.

Paulina said: “We found Francis Leonard Hunter Jackson’s grave and that was quite moving, especially because he used to go to our school and was from the local area.

“The whole trip was amazing. It was good to meet new people and we felt very sad when we had to come home.

“Now we are busy planning our presentation and a worksheet for the primary schools and Year 7 students at the academy which we hope to deliver towards the end of the summer term.”

Bethan said the trip left her speechless.

She said: “It was so amazing, a really great life experience and an honour. It was even better than I expected and it was great to meet so many other students from across the country. It was incredible to see how many soldiers died for us.”

Joel Smith, Assistant Principal for Achievement, accompanied students on the trip.

He said: “The tour was one of the best trips I have been involved in. It was a great opportunity to show our respect for the soldiers who have fallen.”