20 July 2023  |  Sven Wardle  |  Posted in:

Award-winning poetry created by a group of Service Students and their peers from Richmond School and Sixth Form College has been displayed in the Ministry of Defence building in London. The students’ thought-provoking poetry was crowned the winner of the ‘Month of the Military Child’ design competition, a national event organised by the charity Never Such Innocence which included submissions of poetry, music and artwork.

Following on from our poetry submission from Month of the Military Child, two of the students, from Years 9 and 10, were invited to the Ministry of Defence HQ in Whitehall where copies of the work from all the 2023 competition entrants were exhibited for general viewing by military personnel and visitors. Ellie (Year 10) won the poetry civilian category for her age group, and Sophie (Year 9) won the army poetry category for her age group. The students’ work was displayed proudly and Katie Salari, Chief Operating Officer of Never Such Innocence, spoke about the significance of the event, introduced the artwork and allowed the category winners to read their award winning work. 

Sophie and Ellie read their poetry clearly and elegantly to a room full of VIP guests and attendees. In attendance were NSI Founder, Lady Lucy French and Head of Education at the MOD, Andrew Malcolm. Brigadier Kristen Dagless, representing the Army, Air Commodore Alan Opie, representing the Royal Air Force and Commodore Rich Harris, representing the Royal Navy. Also, Minister for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families, Dr Andrew Murrison. 

Ellie said: “The experience was absolutely amazing. They were all so welcoming and I had an experience I never thought I’d ever have. We got to meet so many people and even some incredibly important ones. Being able to go inside The Ministry of Defence and even to realise that one day I would hopefully be working inside there was incredible. Hearing different poems and seeing art made by armed forces children and other civilians was amazing to really understand the stories of different people.”

Mr Birdsall, Service Children’s Advocate said: “The students were great ambassadors for the school and college. It was such a lovely poignant day hearing the views and voices of our young students on their personal thoughts on the topic ‘Friends Near and Far’ and how it affects them individually. I was incredibly proud of the excellent reading of Ellie and Sophie who read their poems so passionately. It was an honour to accompany them and share the amazing experience with them. I would like to say a huge thank you to the Trustees for funding our visit to London. This allowed us to be able to take part in the prestigious event.”

You can read the poetry submissions from all entrants here.

Soon after the two winners returned from London, all the entrants gathered at school to receive a certificate provided by the Ministry of Defence, and to have a group photo taken.

Well done to all the participants, especially our two winners, and thank you  to Mr. Birdsall for organising the competition and the trip to London. Richmond School’s links to the armed forces continue to be an invaluable and vibrant part of the role the school plays in the local community.

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