Highfield and Brookham School pay tribute to fallen war heroes

Posted on 15th Nov 2023 in School News

Pupils and staff at Highfield and Brookham School, an independent school in Liphook, have paid their respects to their war dead.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham School, and her husband, Bob, read out the names of former pupils who lost their lives in the service of their country during two world wars.

The poignant reading of the names is a long-held tradition at the co-educational nursery, pre-prep and prep school in honour of Remembrance Day, and Friday’s ceremony gave the whole school the opportunity to reflect on the fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

The beautiful Act of Remembrance featured a solemn two-minute silence, an emotional rendition of The Last Post by trumpeter and former Highfield and Brookham music teacher Mark Atkins, and a special performance by Simon Gunn on the bagpipes, who played The Rowan Tree, When The Battle’s Over, Green Hills, Castle Dangerous and the Flowers of the Forest lament as the children filed silently onto Chapel Field in their year groups.

And the moving occasion had extra significance for the children in Year 4 who made beautiful ceramic poppies in their art lessons especially for the wartime tribute.

Mrs Cryer said she was “incredibly moved” by the Act of Remembrance, and the chapel service which preceded it.

“Like so many other schools, the Highfield and Brookham community was so sadly affected by the Great War from 1914-18 and the Second World War from 1939-45, and it’s imperative that the sacrifice these brave souls made should never ever be forgotten.

“The Act of Remembrance was truly moving and emotional and it was wonderful for the whole school to gather together to pay tribute to the people whose bravery will forever be etched on our hearts and minds.”

Highfield and Brookham has a strong link with wartime, with former headmaster Peter Mills having escaped from a prisoner of war camp in northern Italy in 1943.

Mr Mills, Highfield Headmaster from 1953 until his retirement in 1979 and former owner of the school now owned by his son, Bill, was imprisoned at Fontanellato, near Parma, during the Second World War. Locals, guards and a kindly commandant helped him escape along a route through the Apennines known as the ‘Freedom Trail’ after an armistice between the Allies and Italy which Germany refused to recognise.

Now, in peacetime, sections of the Freedom Trail are walked only by people keen to gain an understanding of a significant piece of history.

As a result, an exchange programme between Highfield and Brookham Schools and the Istituto Comprensivo di Fontanellato e Fontevivo has been running successfully since 2018, with two Italian pupils spending a term at the nursery, pre-prep and prep school in Liphook each year.