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Personal tales of Second World War help inspire students
Hundreds of school children from across the Midlands gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to learn stories of heroism that liberated Europe. Almost 1000 youngsters were invited to attend the national remembrance centre in Alrewas, near Lichfield, to take part in the Remember Together Youth Festival 2019. Held from July 8 to 12, the Youth Festival enabled pupils and students to forge connections with the lives of British and Commonwealth soldiers by means of a programme of guided tours, self-led activities and facilitated workshops. The five-day event culminated in a closing Act of Remembrance. Funding from the Royal British Legion, which is the Arboretum's parent charity, meant the unforgettable experience was provided free of charge to schools.
Pupils taking part in the Remember Together Youth Festival
Developing on the success of last year's inaugural Thank You Youth Festival, which looked at the social and technological changes bought about as a result of the First World War, this year's event focused on the liberation of Europe from Nazi rule by the alliance between Britain, the Commonwealth, the United States and the free armies of Europe in the Second World War. Students participated in a variety of exciting cross-curricular activities in the series of one-day learning events. Children from 22 schools immersed themselves in the 1939-45 conflict, taking on the roles of code breakers, Special Operations Executive agents and parachute manufacturers, as well as being inspired by the evacuees and veterans who visited the festival to share their personal stories. Some schools took the opportunity to take part in the Vessels of Victory project, which runs at the Arboretum until September 25. It commemorates those involved in Operation Neptune on D-Day by inviting visitors to decorate one of 6,939 wooden vessels, each representing an allied vessel involved in the operation.
Decorated wooden ships in the Vessels to Victory project
Aysha Afridi, Head of Heritage and Learning at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: "It was inspiring to once again see the enthusiasm of the next generation as they sought to get to grips with stories of heroism at our second ever Youth Festival. Our stunning location, home to almost 30,000 maturing trees and 380 memorials created the perfect learning environment away from the classroom where students embraced the freedom of nature as they tackled a series of challenging topics. We are sure that the experience will stay with them for years to come." For further information about the Arboretum, please visit www.thenma.org.uk