Schools will honour veterans in national competition

Navy servicemen at work.
Navy servicemen at work.
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Western Isles primary school pupils are being challenged to travel back in time and imagine what life was like on board a First World War battleship in a national competition. Pupils could scoop a three-day trip to Orkney to commemorate the Battle of Jutland.

Launched today (Friday, September 18th), ‘Stories of the Sea – Hold The Front Page!’ is the third annual school’s competition organised by Legion Scotland (Royal British Legion Scotland), the largest ex-service membership charity in Scotland.

Funded by Co-operative Funeralcare and The Scottish Government, this year’s challenge asks P5, P6 and P7 pupils to find their sea legs and use their imaginations to produce a newspaper article about life on the high seas during the war.

Kevin Gray MM, Chief Executive Officer of Legion Scotland, said: “By asking pupils to transport themselves back to a time when our Royal Navy was the most powerful in the world we hope to help them understand and appreciate how WWI affected those who served at sea; the impact of war on their families, and how the war shaped the towns, villages and cities in which we now live. With no living memories of that time, it has never been more important to educate our younger generation by challenging them to investigate, record and conserve information about such a vital part of their history.

“The seamen of WWI faced harsh conditions, spending long periods of time at sea with none of today’s technology to contact their loved ones. We want pupils to not only imagine what life was like above and below deck but also think about the role the military ‘family’ played. Comradeship is important to all the Armed Forces. Since 1921, Legion Scotland has provided veterans with opportunities that have helped them continue fellowships forged during their service. By asking school pupils to put themselves in the shoes of crew members, we believe it will help them understand that the war was fought by people just like them.”

Registration for the competition must be made by November 17th, with entries then submitted by March 1st, 2016. Entries will then be collated and a select number will be chosen by Legion Scotland and put to a public on-line vote. The winner will then be chosen from the top three most voted for entries by a panel of celebrity judges next March.

Ten classmates and two teachers from the winning school will then be sent on a three-day trip to Orkney where they will visit Scapa Flow, Britain’s main naval based during WWI where seven battleships still lie today.

Mr Gray said: “Next May will mark 100 years since the Battle of Jutland, the only major naval confrontation of WWI. Thousands lost their lives in the battle, but it ensured no further attacks were made from the North Sea during the war. It seems only fitting that this year’s winners should visit such a historic, and important, site as their prize.”

Schools can register to take part at www.legionscotland.org.uk/schools or via Legion Scotland’s Schools Competition leaflet which has been issued to every local authority and primary school in Scotland.

Legion Scotland is the largest ex-service membership charity in Scotland working at the heart of the veterans’ community. With nearly 170 branches, 70 clubs and over 33,000 members, Legion Scotland provides essential wellbeing and befriending services for all veterans - whether they left service yesterday or 50 years ago - as well as providing disablement pension advice, comradeship events, grants and remembrance services.

Currently, Legion Scotland represents around 85% of people at the disablement pensions tribunals each year and offers a grant for veterans’ and their families.

Legion Scotland is the day-to-day name for the Royal British Legion Scotland and has always been a separate charity from The Royal British Legion which operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To donate £3 text ‘LSCO15 £3’ to 70070.

To find out more visit www.legionscotland.org.uk