A high school’s First World War centenary service featured the Last Post played on a company sergeant major’s cornet from the conflict.

The service took place at Whitby High on Sycamore Drive where headteacher Bryn Heeley wished to bring the whole school together for the first time ever indoors.

All 1,600 students and over 200 staff were present for the service, led by Mr Heeley, in the sports hall.

The ‘truly remarkable event’ was attended by the mayor, Brian Jones, a governor at the school for 40 years.

The First World War centenary service at Whitby High School was attended by 1,600 students and more than 200 staff
 

A spokesperson said: “The Last Post was played at the end of the two minute silence which was silent and quite intense with all students showing respect for the occasion as one of our ex pupils, Marc Taylor, was killed in the service of the country in Iraq on September 28, 2004.”

The bugle call is played at military funerals and ceremonies commemorating those who have been killed in war.

It was performed during the service by Year 13 music student Max Astbury.

Added the spokesperson: “This in itself is not unusual but the famous tune was played on a cornet that belonged to Company Sergeant Major Alfred Rowley of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers who was killed in action in Gallipoli in 1915.

“This cornet was with him at Gallipoli and was sent home with his personal effects along with photographs and some of his last post cards to his family.

“The instrument had a beautiful tone, was in full working order and added a special significance to the event.”

It is in the hands of Whitby High technician Andrew Peck who collects military memorabilia.

Max said: “It was an honour and a privilege to play the Last Post using this extraordinary instrument”.

CSM Rowley died on August 8, 1915 age 32. He is buried in the Lancashire Landing Cemetery in Gallipoli and commemorated on Wrexham war memorial.

The school describes the service as ‘a truly remarkable event which fills us all with pride and gratitude.” Mr Heeley commended the pupils on their conduct throughout the whole of the event.

Commenting on the service, the mayor said he had pointed to the tragic loss of life during the Great War with 30,000 killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme alone. Fathers and sons had left Ellesmere Port for France, including men from the iron works, with the expectation they would be home by Christmas. But the war to end all wars had lasted four years.

Cllr Jones, who fought against terrorists in Malaysia, questioned the cost of modern armaments used in warfare compared with that of improving health or providing clean water in developing nations.

He said students from Whitby High who had laying a wreath at the town’s war memorial with the head had thanked him for his comments. “I am very proud to be a member of the school,” he added.

As the rear doors of the sports hall were opened to allow students out following the service, a large butterfly entered which staff agreed was a symbol of the soul or spirit of the dead.