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News > College News > Falklands 40th Anniversary Commemorative Service and Lunch

Falklands 40th Anniversary Commemorative Service and Lunch

HRH The Duke of Kent, President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was the Guest of Honour at the special 40th Anniversary National Remembrance & Thanksgiving Service on Sunday 12 June.

Falklands 40th Anniversary Commemorative Service and Lunch at Pangbourne College

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, cousin to Her Majesty The Queen and President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was this year’s Guest of Honour at the special 40th Anniversary National Remembrance and Thanksgiving Service at The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel, Pangbourne College on Sunday 12 June. 

Forty years on, a thousand people gathered at the Chapel to mark the end of the Falklands War on 14 June 1982 and to remember the 255 British military personnel, 649 Argentines, and three British civilians who lost their lives. 

Among those present on Sunday 12 June were Pangbourne Falklands veterans including Admiral Sir Michael Layard, Rear Admiral Jeremy Sanders, Lieutenant Colonel Ewen Southby-Tailyour, and Commander Andrew Gordon-Lennox who were involved in the Falklands Campaign. Thirteen were decorated for their contribution and four were serving on vessels lost to enemy action.

More than 130 pupils and staff were involved in hosting this important occasion at the College which included a seated finger-buffet lunch in a large marquee on Devitt Lawn after the service. Dressed in their smartest school uniform (No.1), pupils’ roles were varied. They ranged from welcoming The Duke, to chatting to guests over coffee, to ushering them to their places in Chapel and helping with the collection in aid of the Chapel, to leading the worship in the choir in the service, to being involved in a Falklands stone ceremony at the cairn, to serving food and drink at the lunch afterwards.

With so many Falklands veterans, bereaved Falklands families, and supporters of the Chapel (including former Pangbourne College parents) wishing to attend this year’s service and following two years without an in-person service due to the pandemic, a large tented nave had to be added to the front of the Chapel. This work was overseen by the Bursarial team led by Mrs Iona Sadler.  Additionally, audio-visual equipment was added internally to enable the service to be broadcast live on YouTube.

On his arrival at the College, Heads of School Rory Hogan (Upper Sixth, H) and Emily Cox (Upper Sixth, I) were among the welcoming party for The Duke of Kent. The Duke was also met by his former equerry Brigadier Charles Page (one of the trustees of the Chapel) and Mrs Amanda Page; the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, Mr James Puxley, and Mrs Deborah Puxley; Falklands veterans Admiral The Lord West and Major General Jeff Mason (Chair of the Chapel Trustees), Mrs Lucy Mason, The Head Mr Thomas Garnier and Mrs Alexandra Garnier, as well as the Chaplain The Reverend Neil Jeffers and Mrs Anna Jeffers. 

The service was led by Pangbourne College Chaplain The Reverend Neil Jeffers. He was supported by The Right Reverend Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans and Bishop to the Forces, and The Right Reverend Paul Mason, Roman Catholic Bishop to the Forces. Bishop Nelson gave the address and the blessing, Bishop Mason led the prayers. In his own words, Bishop Nelson said: ‘We will remember honestly and truthfully. We will look to the past in order to live wisely into the future.’ ‘We will remember them.’

The Chapel was opened by The Queen in March 2000 and since that year there has been an annual service of remembrance and thanksgiving on the Sunday nearest to 14 June 1982, the day of the liberation of the Falkland Islands. At these, flowers have been arranged by former Pangbourne College parents, Mrs Sadie Clare and Mrs Sue Hollebone, and placed by the Wall of Remembrance and below the Falklands Window at the front of the Chapel. 

In his vote of thanks during lunch, Major General Jeff Mason thanked them and Mr Richard Stone, another former parent, for their service to the Chapel over so many years. They, along with Mrs Alexandra Garnier (Head’s Wife), were involved in overseeing flowers in the Chapel from 2005 to 2020. They were a part of three flower festivals in the Chapel including one in May 2007 for the 25th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands and one in October 2017 for the centenary of the College.

The College Choir directed by Mr Chris McDade sang two anthems accompanied by Mr Ian Hockley on the organ: Charles Woods’s ‘O Thou the Central Orb’ and the late Christopher Tambling’s Seafarers’ Prayer, ‘O Almighty God’. The latter was written for former pupil Peter Tambling (1950-53) to mark his 40 year career at sea. 

The congregation sang ‘The Old Hundredth’, ‘I vow to Thee’, ‘All my hope on God is founded’,  the National Anthem, and The Falklands Hymn. The latter was written especially for this annual service and composed by former Pangbourne College Director of Music Ralph Allwood. An ensemble of the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood accompanied the hymns and played the fanfare elements of ‘The Old Hundredth’, ‘All my hope on God is founded’, and the National Anthem. 

Over the last year plaques have been added to the Memorial Garden, which is near to the front of the Chapel. One of these was donated by the Old Pangbournian Society whose current Chair is Phillip Plato. He and his wife, Barbara, were also present on Sunday. 

After the service, The Duke of Kent added one more Falkland Islands stone to the cairn to the north of the Chapel. This was given to him by Senior Scholar Peter Garnier (Upper Sixth, S) and the short ceremony was overseen by retiring Chapel trustee and Falklands veteran Major General Alastair Bruce. 

The cairn was the idea of General Bruce and was first created in 2007 for the 25th anniversary of the end of the War. After the special service that year The Queen added a stone. The three albatrosses which ‘fly’ in the western garden of the Chapel were also added that year and made by Falklands veteran and sculptor Mark Coreth.

The Head, Mr Thomas Garnier, said: ‘The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel is a ‘living’ memorial to those individuals who paid the ultimate sacrifice in 1982 for the freedom of the Falkland Islanders. As a school community we use it on a daily basis in term time and it is a privilege and honour annually in June to host those who suffered and continue to suffer as a result of that conflict. We hope that the service and lunch afterwards are one means by which those who lost loved ones and those who fought can know some comfort and hope as they continue to come to terms with their loss and the experiences of that war.’

 

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