UCS reflects on service and sacrifice at annual Act of Remembrance

The UCS Foundation remembered the sacrifice and service of previous generations as the annual Act of Remembrance took place at the Senior School’s War Memorial today.

In a sombre occasion at Frognal, Headmaster, Mark Beard, together with Headmistress of the Pre-Prep, Zoe Dunn, Headmaster of the Junior Branch, Lewis Hayward, and Old Gowers’ Association President, Mark Alden, processed to the War Memorial, where they each laid a wreath.

Mark Beard had the privilege of remembering the fallen when he spoke to students and staff before the sounding of the last post and the observance of a two-minute silence. He said: “The annual Act of Remembrance is an opportunity to remember, chiefly, those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in the name of freedom and liberty.”

The Headmaster’s poignant address emphasised the cost of the service given by so many, and he made particular reference to the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, the 60th anniversary of the end of National Service, and the 75th anniversary of the arrival of settlers from the Caribbean on the Empire Windrush.

He explained: “Service is rarely without cost to those who serve. Physical, mental or emotional injury or trauma; the absence of time with loved ones; or the pressures that come from serving, all highlight why the remembrance of service is so important. Men and women from the Commonwealth have served, and continue to serve, in our Armed Forces and civilian services.

“And with these anniversaries, this is a year for our nation to remember particularly their service throughout the commemorations this weekend.”

To mark the solemnity of the event, Year 13 students and their Form Tutors lined the route of the procession along with staff members. Pupils from the UCS Pre-Prep (Year 2) and Junior Branch (Year 6) were also present. Captains of Monitors, Oskar Gershfield and Thalia Kermisch, represented pupils of all ages when they stepped forward to leave posies at the memorial.

Mr Beard invited today’s generation to honour the fallen from the UCS communities of yesteryear who had given their lives in war, and to think specifically of their sacrifice.

“In remembering these young men who died in the First and Second World Wars, and in other conflicts – young men hardly older than many of you here – we might think not only of their courage. We might think, more importantly, of their sacrifice. They faced terror and pain that we hope and pray we shall not have to face. They were tested in ways that we hope and pray we shall never be tested. As we stand for a few moments in silence, we should reflect on that, and should remember that their sacrifice was to make it ever less likely that our names will appear on war memorials of this kind. We have much to remember them for.”

Along with Mark Alden, the Old Gowers’ Association President, nearly 50 other alumni returned to UCS for this annual event, which was live-streamed to the entire OG community as well as to pupils in Years 7–12. After the ceremony, the Old Gowers in attendance joined the Headmaster for a brunch reception in the Gower Room. Earlier, there had been a Remembrance-themed whole-school assembly delivered by Deputy Head, Andrew Wilkes.

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