October 14th, 2021.

Children from Annecy Catholic Primary School in Seaford recently took part in a special commemoration for soldiers from the British West Indies Regiment whose bodies lie in the Commonwealth War Graves section of Seaford cemetery.

The school’s Year 5 and 6 class joined the Eleven Brigade Engagement Team and soldiers of Afro-Caribbean heritage at the Commonwealth War Grave Memorial, which recognises the fallen soldiers from both world wars, in particular servicemen of colour from around the Commonwealth.

Organisers of the event, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Black Poppy Rose group, which represents the African, Black, Caribbean and Pacific Islands’ contributions to the war efforts, delivered a graveside lesson to the children, teaching them about some of the back stories and history behind the people whose names are inscribed on the headstones.

“Annecy has developed a curriculum that incorporates inspirational women and inspirational BAME individuals from the past and present to ensure that our pupils see people that look like them being a success,” explains headteacher, Paul Gallagher. “Conversely, we want children to see people that do not look like them being a success to engender a fully inclusive learning experience.”

Annecy Catholic Primary School is one of the most diverse schools in East Sussex. 24.7% of Annecy students are classified as non-white British, compared with 14.2% across all primary schools in East Sussex and 10% across all Seaford primary schools.

The school is part of the BOSCO Catholic Education Trust, a group of schools in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton who have come together to work collaboratively for the benefit of all children in the Catholic schools of Sussex.

“The children learned about the fallen heroes from the first and second world wars and how people from many countries around the Commonwealth gave their lives for freedom,” says Year 6 class teacher Laura Greppi. “They were delighted to be involved in the ceremony, especially having the honour to escort active servicemen, as they laid wreaths.”

The event closed with a short service and the Act of Remembrance conducted around the cemetery’s cenotaph, with poppy wreaths laid by serving soldiers of Afro-Caribbean heritage, Annecy pupils and representatives of organisations that support the many ethnic groups that serve in today’s British Armed Forces.

One student who returned to Seaford Cemetery after school said, “I was inspired by the stories we heard and wanted to share it with my mum.”
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