Students from The Wensleydale School Combined Cadets Force (CCF) took part in the parade with the Leyburn and District branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL), as part of the Remembrance Day celebrations in Leyburn yesterday.
It coincided with the RBL’s 100th anniversary and was the perfect way to mark the recently established affiliation between the school and local branch.
Students marched with SSI WO2 Tracy Sockett, the school’s CCF Staff Instructor, to the war memorial where they joined the RBL members.
As part of the proceedings, the names of all local fallen soldiers from all conflicts were read out.
This was followed by a march to the Methodist church for a service.
Senior cadet and Year 11 student Elliott said: “It was a real privilege and something I didn’t think I would get the chance to do. During practices I learnt a lot and this has helped me understand the importance of remembrance.
“Sometimes people think young people aren’t interested or don’t understand why we have Remembrance Day, but that isn’t true. Being part of CCF at school has helped me and the link with the RBL is a great way for the different generations to work together.”
The Wensleydale School’s headteacher Julia Polley, who started her career in the RAF, added: “This partnership is significant. We hope students, parents and even many within the community will see the important role the RBL has in our community by considering membership, which will help to secure the RBL’s future.”
The joint parade was the second event since the partnership was formed and follows the school’s annual CCF presentation in the summer, where Chairman David Halliday officially welcomed the cadets to the branch.
David said: “Leyburn and District branch of the Royal British Legion are proud of their affiliation with Wensleydale School CCF and equally proud to have them stand with us on this annual Act of Remembrance in Leyburn.
“We would also like to think that some of the cadets could be tomorrow’s British Legion members”.
The parade highlighted the intergenerational role of the RBL, with young and old coming together to commemorate its longevity. It comes when the charity finds its existence under threat due to a drop in membership, because elderly members are not replaced by younger members.
If numbers drop any further the Leyburn branch is at risk of becoming a sub-branch.
Long-standing member Richard Morris added: “We’re keen to debunk the image of the charity as a place where members exchange wartime stories in the pub.
“Membership is not only for those with a connection to the forces – everyone is welcome to join”.
Besides the poppy appeal, the charity’s flagship campaign which is known to be the longest running appeal in the world, a lot of work goes on in the community throughout the year such as clay shoot fundraisers and supporting the Wensleydale Show.