Sunderland schoolchildren help track down war graves

Springwell Dene Academy pupils Daniel Garrett, 13, Finn Harrison, 13, Connor Grimes, 13, Daniel Hall, 15 and Bradley Batty, 13 with teachers Paul Ramsey and Alan Douglas. The pupils are heading off to the World War I Somme battfield.
Springwell Dene Academy pupils Daniel Garrett, 13, Finn Harrison, 13, Connor Grimes, 13, Daniel Hall, 15 and Bradley Batty, 13 with teachers Paul Ramsey and Alan Douglas. The pupils are heading off to the World War I Somme battfield.
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TEENAGERS from a Sunderland school are hoping to help families track down the graves of their war hero relatives.

Pupils from Springwell Dene Academy are heading to the Somme battlefield in France on April 26, and have appealed for people to contact them if they would like them to find the grave or memorial of a fallen loved one.

During the last four years, the school has tracked down more than 20 soldiers and have never failed to find a grave or memorial.

Finn Harrison, 13, said: “I am looking forward to it because people can’t always go to France and lay a wreath themselves. It will mean a lot to them.”

Fellow pupil Daniel Hall, 15, added: “I am looking forward to going because I like war history and I’ll enjoy helping the families out too.”

Assistant headteacher Alan Douglas is delighted the trip is going ahead again this year, having initially looked unlikely due to funding problems.

He said: “It brings home to the students the history of the war and makes it a bit more real for them.

“Last year, a student found someone who had lived in the next street to where he lives in Hendon.

“It changes it from being just a list of names on a wall.

“Over the years it has developed, and for people in the community who had relatives killed and have never seen the grave, what we do is find out where they are, visit the grave and take a picture for them.”

Paul Ramsey, another of the teachers travelling to France, said: “The head thinks the impact on the students and the work we do for the community made it important to scrape the funds together because it’s such a worthwhile project.”

Anyone with a relative killed in the First World War, whose remains are buried in the Somme region and would like the students to look for the grave, should contact the school on 553 6067.

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