The Prescotian Webzine

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Pro Patria, 1914-1918, 1939-1945

Dedication of the New War Memorial

Shortly, after noon in the school hall, the congregation assembled. Many had attended the traditional service in the Psrish Church whilst others had travelled to Prescot from their distant homes with but one purpose in mind. To the sound of gentle music, the crowd steadily grew until all seats were occupied The school choir entered, followed by two pupils who would assist in leading the prayer.s Then came the Town Mayor of Prescot, members of the governing bodies, the Head Teacher and a number of clergy who included two Old Prescotians. the Rev Harold Bishop and the Rt Rev John Waine. The standards of three ex-Service organisations were presented and laid near the table upon which rested the rnmemorial plaque under its veil of a union flag. Alongside it was a tasteful floral decoration and the historic Prescot Grammar School coat of arms.

Unfortunately it had not been possible for the organisers to contact the families of all who had died; neverthless the gathering included more than thirty of their relatives. Of the earlier generation, a bereaved mother in her nineties was among them.

The address was given by an Old Boy of the School, the Rev. Harold Bishop (1932 -1937) who referred to the cost of war in human terms. Those who sacrificed their lives were the flower of manhood whose brilliant futures lay before them. He referred to the pain experienced by their families. Pain, which though probably now softened by the passage of half a century, still remained as scars that would never completely heal; nor would the sadness of those of us who had lost an old school friends vanish altogether.We were encouraged to ask ourselves what we had done with the freedom that had been won for us and Harold concluded by reminding the present pupils of the School that it was for them, with the foresight and strength of youth, to bring about that for which former pupils had sacrificed their lives.

The memorial tablet was unveiled by Gary Cheesman, Chairman of Governors, after which Harold performed the Act of Dedication. The names of the fallen were read by one of their schoolfellows. The Town Mayor, Cllr Eric Jones, JR., laid a wreath of Flanders poppies and a passage from Revelation Ch. 21 was read by the Headteacher, Peter Barlow. The hymns were led by the school choir who also performed a rendering of 'Make me a channel of Your peace.' Prayers of intercession were led by the Rev. Tom Steel, Vicar of Prescot and Chairman of the Foundation Governors, and by two pupils, Gillian Ledgerton and Michael Taylor. The Rev. Frank Naylor, Deputy Headteacher said the traditional school prayer which was used during the 1930s and 40s. The Blessing was pronounced by Bishop John Waine.

Afterwards, the congregation was entertained to light refreshments and no doubt reminisced with friends of years past, it was unfortunate and very disappointing that those who had led the service hurried away to their private VIP reception upstairs instead of availing themselves of the opportunity to speak to the relatives who had looked forward to meeting them.

The heavy tablet of solid bronze, engraved with the names of sixty-three Old Prescotians has been provided by their schoolfellows with additonal donations from families and friends. The incised letters are filled with ceramic enamel the upper corners of the panel bearing the two coats of arms associated with the school, on the left is that of King's Cllege, Cambridge and on the right the arms granted by the College of Heralds to the School in 1933. The Fellows of King's College had been Lords of the Manor of Prescot at the time of the foundation of the school. Their arms are still used by the Town. The two shields which are of sterling silver are finely enamelled in full colour and kiln-fired to giaze. It is said that, were there to be another conflagration, the memorial plaque could be the only survivor!

Mention is made elsewhere of the establishment of a memorial prize fund from letters received to connection with the War Memorial.

'My father was Owen S Whitaker and was a pupil at the Grammar School from 1909-12. He was a soldier in the First World War and I know that he was at Passchendaele. I can remember him talking of the time he was moving back from the front line along the trenches and passing Tom Gleave (whose name is on the PGS memorial) who was moving up to the front line where helost his life. My father said that 'Old Mr Gleave' always made a fuss of him after that because he was the last 'local' to see his son alive.'

'I would like to say that I thought it was very caring of the members to provide a new War Memorial. I have written to Mr Asbridge enclosing a donation. Thank you to the committee from the family for the invitation to the dedication and for all the hard work and the donations to provide the memorial. It was a lovely service and so nice to meet people we hadn't seen for a long time. I had a letter from my neice in Scotland who said that she thoroughly enjoyed it too.'

'I very much enjoyed the Founder's Day Service and the service for the unveiling of the war memorial. It was good to be able to talk to some of my late brother's contemporaries and I very much fell that I was representing my mother who never really recovered from his death.'

'It was touching to see two middle-aged ladies in tears as they looked at their brother's name'


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