From October 25th to the 28th, around 30 KEVI HGS students, along with 4 members of staff, travelled to Ypres, Belgium. The trip began with a 6:30am departure from school to Dover. It was then a 1 1/2 hour ferry ride to the port of Calais and, finally, a 1 1/2 hour onward drive to Ypres. Upon arrival at the Flanders Lodge Hotel we had time to unpack and relax before heading for dinner at 18:00pm. We Year 11s spent the rest of the evening playing pool in the games area, with Mr Jones and Mr Campbell continuing to teach us lessons, but about pool.
On Friday we had a very busy schedule. Breakfast was at 8am and we then headed to the first of many cemeteries in and around Ypres, the Essex Farm Cemetery. Our tour guide Pol was giving a lot of insight to the many graves and the actual war. After this cemetery we went to Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery where the names of many missing soldiers from the war are recorded. We then headed to the Passchendaele Memorial Museum where we explored the different environments the soldiers dealt with, and the recreated trenches and tunnels. It was quite an experience! After our evening meal we went to the Atlantis Bowling Alley which was one of my favourite parts of the trip even though I kept failing to hit the pins.
Saturday had a busy schedule too but we only visited two cemeteries. We had respite from the rain at the Talbot House, which was a base for soldiers to relax and escape temporarily from the fighting. We drank tea and coffee and also went to the top room of the house which was used as a prayer room and as a place for baptisms. We also watched a video of a soldier narrating about life as a soldier in the house. After this the coach dropped off us near to the town centre where we were given free time. The first thing we did was go to Leonida’s which was a chocolate shop. After dinner back at the hotel, we headed to the Menin Gate for the 8pm ceremony and ‘Last Post’, which was my most memorable historical moment of the trip. Thousands upon thousands of soldiers’ names are printed onto the walls of the gate; the memorial service was extremely moving.
Our final day in Belgium would be a long travelling day back to Birmingham but first we had a pit stop in the beautiful city of Brügge. The town centre was absolutely amazing. We went on a boat ride on the canals that go through the town and also had free time to explore. We found lots of designer stores and a shop which sold Belgian chocolate waffles topped with Belgian sauce and strawberries. Thankfully, I was also able to find a souvenir shop to buy a Belgium keyring to add to my list of countries visited. We also took some nice photographs and then finally made our way to the coach for our journey to school.
Overall the Belgium trip was a huge success for the students and the staff; everyone clearly had fun in their own way, even the teachers. On behalf of the students we would like to thank Mrs Hartt for her extended research about Ypres to find things specifically for us, Mrs Yates for her lifesaving umbrella, Mr Jones for sharing his incredible tunes and finally Mr Campbell for his witty, clever jokes!
Ayman Amin, Year 11