Armagh teen Becki to read prayer for world leaders on Armistice Day
An Armagh teenager is to read a prayer in front of a congregation of world leaders at a Westminster Abbey thanksgiving service on the centenary of Armistice Day.
Royal School Armagh pupil and Combined Cadet Force corporal Rebecca Pinkerton (16), who is known as Becki, has been invited to take part in the prestigious event, which will be broadcast live by the BBC on Sunday.
Becki was chosen due to her experience at giving readings at war memorial services, and also because her poem The Poppy clinched third place out of 7,000 entries from across the Commonwealth in a competition run by the Never Such Innocence charity.
The organisation educates the next generation about the First World War and its continuing impact.
Today Becki will be among 100 young people enjoying a tea party hosted by Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the husband of Princess Anne, at Buckingham Palace.
The children, who are all aged between nine and 16, are winners of the annual poetry, art and song competition which marks the centenary of the First World War.
Accompanied by the bands of the Coldstream Guards, the Marine Drum Corps, and the RAF Salon Orchestra, the young winners will perform their poetry and songs and showcase their artworks.
They will also meet high ranking members of the Armed Forces and other dignitaries, and will each receive a beautiful hardback anthology of the work they entered for the competition.
Becki, who is also a brigadier in the Girls Brigade, was inspired by the history of the Remembrance Day symbol to write her poem The Poppy.
The Year 12 GCSE pupil said she was "excited" to be asked to read at the service in Westminster Abbey.
"At the start I was pretty shocked, but now it's just exciting and I'm a bit nervous," Becki told the Belfast Telegraph.
"I will go over for the Buckingham Palace event on Wednesday and come back, then go over again on Saturday for the service on Sunday.
"It will be a big achievement, and something I will always remember.
"I decided to participate in the poetry competition as it's important to remember what people have given up and suffered.
"Their lives were lost for us.
"I was previously involved in the Local Heroes Competition, which involved researching people who lost their lives in the war. That made me feel closer to their stories."
Never Such Innocence was set up by Lady Lucy French, whose great-grandfather Field Marshal Sir John French led the British Expeditionary Force at the start of the First World War.
Lady Lucy said: "We are so delighted that our principal aim for the charity, to give children a strong and powerful voice during the centenary commemorations, has been fulfilled as we look to the centenary of the Armistice.
"What better way to mark this unique moment in history than through the responses of children, the custodians of the future.
She added: "The thousands of children who entered our competition have produced a remarkable body of work, tackling challenging, emotive topics with respect, thoughtfulness and creativity.
"These children have done us proud!"
The first few lines from The Poppy:
Under the ground of the battlefield I grow,
I symbolise the memory of fallen heroes from long ago
I am an emblem for all to show
Their respect to so many whom they did not know.