The Fourth Preston Lodge Pals’ Battalion are now back on home soil, having finished their visit to the Western Front.
Yesterday the Pans Pals spent the morning exploring the northern parts of the Ypres Salient, including Essex Farm Cemetery, where John McCrae conceived In Flanders Fields, and a very emotional visit to Poelkappele Cemetery. The Pipe Band then marched us down the Passchendaele ridge, before they stilled the largest British military cemetery in the world with a stirring rendition of Highland Cathedral, led by Sam Addis and Becky Pollard. Declan Till’s moving rendition of The Green Fields of France was a very fitting conclusion. After paying our respects at Langemark German Cemetery we headed to Ypres, for some rest and relaxation.
In the evening we attended the Menin Gate ceremony. Our band did our whole school community proud with a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace.
Erin Ritchie then showed Ypres the very best of Preston Lodge with her immaculate rendition of Flowers of the Forest, and Declan Till laid a wreath on behalf of East Lothian cadets.
We then moved to Perth China Wall Cemetery to carry out our own act of remembrance. The Pals chose Dillon Blyth, Joy Kennedy, Ollie Skinner and Hannah Yorkston as our Presentation Party. They were impressive, as our group remembered the boys who didn’t come home.
We were delighted to have trustees of the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust join us for this very special day. One trustee, Angus Tulloch, was formally inducted into the Back Seat Boys, much to everyone’s amusement!
Many thanks to Robert Ross, our Mercat Tours guide, and Steve Lynn, our wonderful driver – both now honorary PLers. Thanks, too, to all the staff and students, who made this important trip such a wonderful experience, and to our Pipe Band – champions of Belgium, and so much more. The final word should go to one of our students, whose evaluation stated ‘the Battlefields Experience was the best time of my life’.
Here’s to the Fifth Battalion of the Preston Lodge Pals. Ypres awaits.