VIDEO: Sutton pupils' poppy tribute to St Helens' First World War victims

St Helens Star: The Mayor with VIPs and the pupils who planted the poppy seeds. The Mayor with VIPs and the pupils who planted the poppy seeds.

SCHOOL pupils took centre stage at a moving poppy planting ceremony in a village graveyard.

Children from Eaves Lane and Sherdley primary schools planted seeds on the graves of soldier sons of St Helens who lost their lives in the First World War.

They were invited to plant the poppy seeds by ex-King’s Regiment serviceman and St Helenser Butch Gilbart of the Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund.

The planting was in the burial ground at St Nicholas Church, Sutton where 12 soldiers lie buried including Private Tom Griffiths from Sutton.

Butch Gilbart related the tragic tale of Private Griffiths who lived in Peckers Hill Road.

“He served with the 4th Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment. He was wounded on April 27, 1915 and returned to England where he was taken to Leeds Hospital and underwent an operation but he failed to recover,” said Butch.

Private Griffiths told relatives who visited him in hospital that his officer was wounded and as he stooped down to assist him he was shot.

He then suffered the agony of lying on the battlefield for over 12 hours before he was removed.

Before he died he gave his mother a map on which he had marked the battles he had fought in including La Bassee, Neuve Chapelle and Ypres.

After the planting ceremony attended by Mayor of St Helens Cllr Andy Bowden Vicar of St Nicholas the Rev Mark Taylor led a short service Rev Mark Taylor, Vicar of St Nicholas, Sutton, led a short graveyard service assisted by reader-in-training Ann Griffiths.

The Vicar told the children about the First World War battlefield scenes: “The fields were a mess, mud was everywhere and there was lots of suffering. Then something marvellous happened, the poppies started growing. New beginnings began and that is why we are scattering poppies here. Out of suffering comes new life.”

Bugler Russell Prescott, a keen St Helens bandsman who served in the Royal Tank Regiment, played The Last Post and afterwards said: “They said it was the ‘war to end all wars’. Nobody has learned any lessons have they?”

With him was his father, 80 year-old Peter Prescott from Thatto Heath, who served in Hong Kong and Korea with the Kings 1st Battalion.

“It was like a family. It is wonderful to see the children here today on an occasion like this,” he said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony Hollingsworth, chairman of the Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund, told the Star after the ceremony: “Today has been marvellous. Our aim is to provide a memorial to the Pals due to open on August 31 in Liverpool and also to put a plaque at Prescot railway station because that is where most of the Pals who trained on the Knowsley Easte would have departed from.”

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