Clyst Vale ALB (students by the all-weather lifeboat Margaret Jean)
Students and teachers visited Exmouth RNLI on 22 October, one month on from when they raised money to remember Harry Patch and the role he played in World War one. Students raised £360.64 from a cake bake, poetry writing and creating a montage portrait of Harry Patch from a number of photos of him as a young soldier.
Harry Patch was the last surviving soldier known to have fought in the trenches of the first World War and briefly the oldest man in Europe. He fought at the Battle of Passchendaele and was injured in the groin when a shell exploded overhead on 22 September 1917. It killed three of his comrades, he was only 19. Patch referred to 22 September as his personal Remembrance Day.
Head of History, Heather Padden who accompanied the teenagers to the boathouse, met Harry Patch at the nursing home in Wells, in which he spent his last years. She had visited Harry on his 109th, 110th and 111th birthday, bringing with her cards and cakes that the students had made especially for him. He died in 2009 aged 111 and 38 days, the third oldest man in the world. Heather continues the story:
‘Harry had said to me, “once I’ve died, all this World War one will be forgotten”. However, he was insistent that the younger generation should remember the fallen on both sides. Clyst Vale Academy wanted to keep the memory alive through him and we teach history through his stories and letters.’
The teenage fundraisers and two teachers were treated to a guided tour of the station by volunteers Don Hodgkinson and Dave Ashman, so they could see for themselves where their money would go. Clyst Vale raise money each year for Exmouth RNLI. This year their fundraising efforts will be contributing to the new launch and recovery equipment for the new Shannon-class lifeboat due to Exmouth at the end of 2013.