VE Day celebrations online

Ashville College celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day by honouring the memory of former pupils killed in World War Two.

Friday, 8th May 2020, 10:27 am

The Harrogate school, which was evacuated to a hotel in the Lake District for the duration of the war, was to host a variety of activities, shows and displays but these were moved online.

Ashville’s Director of Music, Miss Anna Wilby, worked on two VE Day-themed musical performances, which were shared with the residents and staff of local care homes and on the school’s social media platforms on May 7.

One of the projects that Miss Wilby has been working on is a special recording of the wartime classic, We’ll Meet Again, featuring the voices of a large number of pupils, parents, staff and even parents singing the chorus.

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Year 9 pupils have used their creative writing lessons to pen pieces about VE Day and pupils across the College were encouraged to make bunting for Friday’s bank holiday.

Former pupil Max Dutton, who is a historian working for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, recorded a special VE Day virtual lecture for Ashville pupils, which examined a number of key themes including why it’s important we remember this day and honour the memory of those who fought and died in the Second World War, the impact the war had on Ashville and those casualties from the school, and the significance of the war graves located in Harrogate’s Stonefall Cemetery.

Max will also informed his audience about the virtual wall of remembrance that the CWGC has launched and how the wider Ashville family can post tributes on it.

And when school does finally return, there will be a prominent display garnered from the school’s extensive archive collection, including a Distinguished Flying Cross, together with an accompanying letter from King George VI, awarded to former pupil Donald Checklin.

Ashville College Headmaster Richard Marshall said: “While celebrating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Europe, at the same time we remembered those 61 Old Ashvillians killed in action.

“I would like to thank all those who have helped achieve this, in particular Miss Wilby and former pupil Max Dutton, for their superb contributions.”

He added: “In 1945, Ashville was closed. It had been requisitioned by the Air Ministry and moved to a temporary home at the Hydro Hotel in Windermere, and this was where pupils and staff celebrated VE Day.

“Seventy-five years later the school is closed again, this time due to an unseen enemy, and we shall be marking this day in our homes wherever that may be, both here and abroad. I’m not alone when I say the day when school can reopen can’t come soon enough.”