Longridge headmaster's plea to raise £1m to help armed forces veterans

Headmaster Simon Wallis and pupils with some of the poppies made for the Armistice commemoration
Headmaster Simon Wallis and pupils with some of the poppies made for the Armistice commemoration
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A £1m appeal has been launched in Longridge to raise funds to help armed forces veterans.

The appeal follows the successful ‘Armistice - The Great War Remembered’ productions at Preston’s Guild Hall on November 11.

Scene from 'Armistice - The Great War Remembered' depicting the aftermath of the  Somme battle

Scene from 'Armistice - The Great War Remembered' depicting the aftermath of the Somme battle

Simon Wallis, headmaster of Longridge's Barnacre Road school, wrote and directed the two performances which had a cast of 600 pupils from 15 local schools and more than 100 staff.

Now he is the driving force behind the new appeal and said: “After the show we had collection buckets out and collected £6,000. We would really like as part of the legacy to try and raise £1m.

“I know it’s a big ask, but there are lots of small veterans groups in small communities who are desperate for finances. If we could raise £1m we could help some of those community support groups.”

Funds will also be boosted by the sale of props and costumes from the Guild Hall performances and by the sale of wooden soldier silhouettes which had been placed around the town and in surrounding villages as part of the district's Remembrance tributes.

Red Baron Ballet from 'Armistice - The Great War Remembered'

Red Baron Ballet from 'Armistice - The Great War Remembered'

The Guild Hall shows were the culmination of an 18 month project. Many of the schools involved now plan to erect a Remembrance monument and create memorial gardens.

Simon said: “It was fabulous. The feedback we’ve had from everybody who went to see it was overwhelming.”

He said audience members had also praised the way pupils and staff from different schools worked so well together.

Sponsorship came from the National Lottery, Army Community Covenant, local businesses and private donations to raise the nearly £50,000 for the project. A display of related art work was included in the Guild Hall box office foyer.

Solemn remembrance as part of 'Armistice - The Great War Remembered' at Preston's Guild Hall

Solemn remembrance as part of 'Armistice - The Great War Remembered' at Preston's Guild Hall

The £1m appeal will be part of the project’s legacy and Simon added: “We were appalled to hear last week on the news that eight veterans a week are taking their lives and there is not enough support out there due to cuts. We want to help them. Please help us to raise this money so we can create a lasting legacy.”

* The Longridge Cluster schools involved in the project were: Longridge High, St Cecilia’s, Hillside special school, Barnacre Road primary, St Wilfrid’s RC school, Longridge Berry Lane C.E., Grange school, Ribbleton, Grimsargh St Michael’s, Alston Lane RC, Goosnargh Oliverson’s, St Francis Hill Chapel, Whitechapel school, Brabin’s Endowed and St Mary’s schools, Chipping and Ribchester St Wilfrid’s CE school.

* To donate to the £1m appeal see the Longridge Cluster Schools Armistice page which contains a JustGiving link or visit justgiving.com.

/crowdfunding/longridgearmistice

These wooden soldiers, placed around Longridge and in surrounding villages, are now for sale to raise money to help veterans

These wooden soldiers, placed around Longridge and in surrounding villages, are now for sale to raise money to help veterans

* Alternatively cheques/donations can be made payable to ‘Longridge Cluster Schools’ and sent to Barnacre Road primary school.

*The Guild Hall performance was filmed and DVDs of the show are on sale at the school now, priced £10, with proceeds going to the £1m appeal.

The battle of Jutland portrayed in 'Armistice - The Great War Remembered'

The battle of Jutland portrayed in 'Armistice - The Great War Remembered'