It’s important to teach tomorrow’s adults about the ultimate sacrifices given by the ordinary men and woman of this country.
That’s the message from one Lancashire deputy headteacher behind a week-long remembrance event to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
Jessica McCluskey, deputy head at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Chorley, is bringing a week of remembrance to the school as she feels it is vitally important to teach today’s children about the sacrifices by so many.
Jessica says: “Being deputy head I think it’s important to teach all our children about how important remembering is.
“And not just for this centenary but about how war is something we never want to happen.
“If we teach our children our values it will be a better world to grow up in.”
Jessica, 29, added: “This year is about the centenary but its also important to remember the sacrifice and paying respects to those who have passed in all conflict.”
For Jessica, bringing the message home carries a deeply personal message in this respect.
“For me it’s very personal,” the 29-year-old explained.
“My uncle Darren Leigh was a company sergeant major (CSM) in the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (QLR) and fought back in the Iraq War.
“While in Iraq he got attacked by 400 soldiers and there was only 30 or so of them.
“Whoever was in charge thought ‘we were going to die’ but my uncle decided to keep going.”
Sergeant Major Leigh, from Swinton, Greater Manchester, was injured by a grenade in the attack and awarded with the Military Cross for bravery.
But CSM Leigh tragically died on his 37th birthday in April 2004 from a brain haemorrhage; just hours after hearing he was receiving the award.
Salford-native Jessica explained: “It was so horrible at the time but it brings home the important of remembrance.”
On Monday the school will be visited by The Veterans Living History Museum, an interactive display presented by former QLR soldiers, showcasing items from British military history since 1914.
“These former soldiers lost their friends in conflict so it’s very real,” Jessica explained.
“Children are becoming so desensitised because of war video games like Call of Duty.
“It’s important that we can teach them the real of war but keeping it child-friendly.”
Jimmy Elsworth, a former solider in the QLR and one of the men behind the museum, added: “We do this for the children so that no solider will ever be forgotten.
“We are not there to glorify war in any shape or form. It’s to put children in the shoes of their great grandparents.
As well as this Jessica has organised a voluntary competition to make a ‘sea of poppies’, similar to the Tower of London’s display to mark 100 years since the start of the Great War, asking for parents and children to craft a variety of knitted, edible, sculptural or painted versions of the symbol of remembrance.
The poppies will form a display at next Friday’s Remembrance Coffee Morning in the school, where all money raised will be going to the Veterans Living History Museum, which raises money towards veterans groups to continue support for them and their families.
As for the rest of the week, Jessica said: “I’m leaving a lot of it up to the teachers about what they want to do.
“There’s no strict format to how we remember.”