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Remembrance Sunday 2021

'For your tomorrow, we gave our today': more than 1,000 flock to Pangbourne College for Remembrance Sunday

‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today’: more than 1,000 flock to Pangbourne College for Remembrance Sunday

 

After a pandemic like no other in living memory, it was with considerable thankfulness that this year’s Remembrance Sunday took place and was so well supported by our families, Old Pangbournians, Parents of Old Pangbournians, friends and members of the local community. The famous words from the Kohima Epitaph, ‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today’, this year had renewed meaning and the silence after the Last Post was especially poignant, given the fact that so many lost their lives in the two World Wars, as well as those who have died serving others on the medical front during the last 18 months due to COVID-19.

 

Former Chief Cadet Captain of the College and Queen’s Gold Medallist, Major General Tom Copinger-Symes (S 82-87), Director of Military Digitisation at Joint Forces Command, was Guest of Honour. He was assisted by Squadron Leader Samuel Hodgkinson, whose team from RAF Benson provided a flypast during our parade ceremony. 

 

With the school being the largest it has ever been and filling the stage of our parade ground from end to end, it was decided that a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy was necessary for our inspection. This inspection was one of six this year and the results contribute towards an inter-house competition. It is also one of the unique aspects of Pangbourne: no pupil knows whether they will be the one spoken to by the visiting Guest of Honour, who in the past have included Prime Ministers and Royalty.

 

Chief Cadet Captain of the College Rory (Harbinger) hosted the General, taking him through Harbinger, Illawarra, and Hesperus, as well as the Marching Band. Chief Cadet Captain of the College Emily (Illawarra) hosted Squadron Leader Hodgkinson and together they met pupils from Port Jackson, St George, and Macquarie. They were each supported by the Head, Mr Thomas Garnier, and our new ‘RSM’ (now known as ‘SSI’) Mr Andrew Davison, respectively.

 

The Marching Band, once again, provided the essential musical backbone of this occasion. Conducted by Bandmaster, Mr Andrew Thornhill (himself a Royal Marine and Director of Music in the Royal Marine Band Service for 15 years), they played ‘Rinaldo’, ‘Scipio’, ‘Pangers March’ and ‘Heart of Oak’. This year, the Upper Sixth leadership included Drum Major Edward (U6 PJ), Head of Brass Peter (U6 S), Head of Drum Corps Edward (U6 H), and Head of Woodwind Tom (U6 S). The calls were played by Timmy (Y11 H) and Last Post, which was performed from the top of Devitt Tower by Felix (L6 S). 

 

Led by the Chaplain, The Reverend Neil Jeffers, the numbers at this year’s Remembrance Sunday service in The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel were limited to 250 due to the continuing challenges of COVID-19. But the service was live-streamed via the school’s YouTube channel. Five wreaths were laid at the front of the Chapel by David Mullins on behalf of the Governors; the Head, Mr Thomas Garnier, on behalf of the College; Chairman of the Old Pangbournian Society Phillip Plato (H 73-77) on behalf of former pupils; Chair of the Pangbourne Parents’ Association Jayne Wells on behalf of current ad former parents; and Squadron Leader Samuel Hodgkinson on behalf of RAF Benson. 

 

The College Choir and Chamber Choir conducted by Mr Chris McDade, Director of Music, sang acapella ‘For the Fallen’ by Douglas Guest and ‘Ubi Caritas’ by Duruflé. Sadly, due to the continued COVID-19 restrictions, there was no congregational singing.

 

The New Testament lesson was read by Morgan, Chief Cadet Captain of Harbinger. Captain Humphrey Maddan, who led military teams in African Savannah, alpine mountains, and the jungles of Borneo, and now runs his own start-up business seeking to transform the rehabilitation journey of injured service personnel, gave a thought-provoking sermon.

 

The names of the 177 Old Pangbournians and one Governor who were killed in World War II were read out by Ellie (U6 I), Lucy (U6 G), Liam (U6 PJ), and George (U6 Q). The colour party included Freddie (L6 S), Euan (L6 S), and Archie (L6 H).  The service began with Nimrod and was brought to a close with an organ voluntary, ‘Jubilate’ by William Matthias, played by Mr Ian Hockley. This year, so that everyone could be involved, the Act of Remembrance part of the service, led by The Reverend Neil Jeffers and SSI Mr Andrew Davison, was held around the stage of the parade ground. As already mentioned, Felix, playing the bugle given by the Old Pangbournian Society, performed The Last Post from the top of Devitt Tower.

 

In the afternoon, this year due to the continuing challenges of COVID-19, the parade of uniformed organisations through the village of Pangbourne was cancelled. Instead, the Brass Ensemble (Felix, Peter, Timmy, Joe (Y11 PJ), Mr Chris McDade, Felix (U6 S) and Mr Andrew Thornhill) led the hymns and national anthem at the outdoor service of Remembrance at the Church of St James the Less. This took place around the Great War (WWI) Memorial in the churchyard and near to the grave of one of the College’s founders, Sir Philip Devitt. Sir Philip ran the College from Devitt House in World War II.

 

Felix played the Last Post and Old Pangbournian James Blandy (S 81-86) read out the names of the Pangbourne village fallen, one of whom was the son of the Donaldson family for whom Devitt House was built. Interestingly, James had himself played the Last Post when he was at the College. This, like other aspects of the day, was another reminder of the enduring value of our ceremonial traditions and the special common experience across the generations of Pangbournians. Remembrance Sunday 2021 was another example of Team Pangbourne at its best.

 

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