The 9th Tabor Academy Festival of Remembrance 2019

On Friday 8th November Tabor students led a poignant and reflective gathering for The 9th Tabor Academy Festival of Remembrance. This years’ service was themed as ‘D’ Day commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the biggest invasion in history to launch the end of World War 2. Students this year invited a special guest, Mr James Nelson, 94 years old, Royal Navy ‘D’ Day veteran who is the recipient of The Legion D ’Honour Medal from the people of France. He was joined by the whole of Tabor Academy, staff and students, and over 120 other VIP Guests including The Lord Lieutenant of Essex Mrs Tolhurst, representing her Majesty The Queen, The High Sheriff of Essex, Mrs Anita Johnson, CEO of Loxford Trust and David Lowe, Chairman  of Governing Body of Loxford Trust.

This year Tabor student’s proudly opened their memorial garden at the front of the school. It was designed and created by the students. The event commenced with all guests being welcomed to the school over a 1940’s style buffet lunch where they were served by a selection of students from the school who chatted informally with them of the importance to remember the fallen. The sixth form students and the school prefects were nervous about meeting and greeting potential war heroes. Calder said, ‘I was nervous at first but to chat to the guests was fantastic, they had so many stories to tell.’ Chloe added, ‘once I was introduced and started to chat about how different life was for our guests I didn’t want to leave them. It was interesting.’

The students stood in silence to welcome the heroes of the past, present and future, who paraded in with the standards, truly a sight worth seeing as 17 Royal British Legion Standards from all over the county, including the Tabor Academy Standard marched into the venue. The school standard was carried proudly by Sam, a year 11 student who had been training hard for over a month.

Tabor students had prepared for the event with a moving drama production set to music, an expressive dance to war poems and readings from live accounts from the D Day landings. There was also an emotional piece of descriptive writing written and read by the Commemorative Creative Writing competition winner, Sam, whose words brought tears to the eyes of the audience. Over 1000 in total took part in the act of remembrance.

After weeks of rehearsing the Tabor Academy Choir sang beautiful tear evoking songs with the Military Wives Choir from Colchester Garrison. Which was promptly followed by 32 wreaths being laid. Following this the last post was played by an ex-student, Katie, and a poppy drop for the duration of the 2 minute silence. The National Anthem was sung by Tamica. Tamica said, ‘I have performed for school events on many occasions but this is the one that I am most proud of’.

The event was closed by a speech from the Lord Lieutenant of Essex.  The Head Teacher, Mrs Speller’s closing words were from a poem called ‘Poppies’. Mrs Speller added, ‘I am so proud of every member of this act of remembrance. The students at Tabor Academy have reflected upon the sacrifices made to give them their freedom today and have spent weeks and months preparing for this wonderful event.’

When asked at the end if he had enjoyed the event Mr James Nelson said “I was humbled at what Tabor Students did for me today, I was one of many, it has also made me proud that we will not be forgotten”.