Reflections from PM as Warrior's window is unveiled in Dover
RECOGNITION from the Prime Minister and a personal message from Dame Vera Lynn were just two of the highlights at a ceremony to unveil a commemorative stained-glass window in its new home at Astor College for the Performing Arts on Friday.
The window, created by 100 3rd St Martins Scout Group and 8th Dover Brownies with the help of artist Jonathan Boast, marks the return from the battlefields of World War One of the body of an unknown soldier.
The Unknown Warrior, brought through Dover in November 1920 on the way to his final resting place in Westminster Abbey, represents all those unidentified men who fell in the conflict.
The window design features six casualties whom children in Kent and London learnt about as part of an education scheme led by the Dover War Memorial Project.
Among those remembered as part of the monolith are two casualties from Dover, both commemorated on the Dover War Memorial, Cecil Bromley and Tommy Eaves. They were both killed in action in 1916.
Also commemorated in the work is Walter Tull, who was killed in action in France in 1918. He was the first black army officer and first black outfield professional footballer.
The window was part of an Unknown Warrior exhibition displayed at Westminster Abbey during Remembrance Fortnight in 2010 before going on national tour.
In its journey, beginning at Westminster Abbey and ending at Dover's former Marine Station, the window and exhibition was seen by more than 85,000 people.
It has now finally been given a permanent home at Astor College, where it will be displayed in the foyer for the public to see and be used as a basis for student lessons.
Speaking at the ceremony, attended by deputy mayor Ronnie Philpott, MP Charlie Elphicke, councillors, Admiral the Lord Boyce, college staff and students and pupils from Federation schools, DWMP co-founder Marilyn Stephenson-Knight said: "The window is in a heavy steel frame to symbolise the industrial nature of the Great War.
"In the most horrendous times and circumstances our loved ones lost their lives, but out of such evil can come good and they left a legacy. In remembering them we are brought together in so many ways."
She added: "I am thrilled to bits Astor College is taking care of the exhibition and Unknown Warrior window.
"Astor has 1,000 young people on the roll who will see it and learn from it."
Admiral the Lord Boyce unveiled the monolith and spoke of the key role Dover has played in conflicts throughout history.
College principal Ed Pallant said the window would be used to "inspire students in so many ways".
A team of pupils and staff worked to clean up the window before the ceremony.
Presentations of £260 each from Pharos Lodge and Shorncliffe Lodge were made to DWMP and a cheque for £500 was presented by Pharos Lodge to Major Anthony Leighton, representing the Constable of Dover Castle, Brigadier Simon Wolsey. The cash will go to the Army Benevolent fund.
Businessman Alan Shirley represented the Pharos Lodge in place of Arthur Hornby, who broke his back in a fall from his attic two days before the event.
During the ceremony DWMP volunteer Mike Webb read extracts from a letter from Number 10.
Talking of David Cameron's push to recognise the fallen of the First World War in its centenary year of 2014, the letter reads: "The Prime Minister is particularly interested to read and learn about DWMP that has taken the lead in this area."
A message from Dame Vera Lynn, in response to the window being housed at Astor College, said: "It is so important that more young people will be able to enjoy learning about the part the White Cliffs of Dover have played in our history."
The DWMP received a £28,000 Heritage Lottery grant for the educational venture, delivered by founders Marilyn Stephenson-Knight and Simon Chambers, with support from The City of Westminster Archives.
The scheme included the window and exhibition, youngsters re-enacting the life of a Great War soldier and visits to Westminster Abbey. St Martin's school in Dover also performed a musical.
Dover's Virtual Memorial can be viewed at www.doverwar memorialproject.org.uk