Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland school honours ex-pupils lost to First World War in poignant tribute

By Adrian Rutherford

A Northern Ireland school is to remember its fallen pupils with a haunting First World War art installation.

Belfast Royal Academy is hosting the silhouette exhibition to commemorate the 36 former students who gave their lives for their country.

The 36 are among 223 pupils and former pupils who fought in the war. Of those, a further 38 were wounded.

Among the names listed on the school's roll of honour is Winifred Elizabeth du Mesnie Atkinson, a voluntary aid detachment nurse, who was just 19 when she died.

Three brothers - David Lumsden Newel, George Frank Newel and Walter Newel - were all killed between 1915 and 1917. Their silhouettes now sit next to each other in the school.

The youngest commemorated at Belfast Royal Academy is Terence Beale Nesbitt, a Second Lieutenant in the Dorsetshire Regiment, who was just 18 when he died.

Principal Hilary Woods said: "We are honoured to display the 36 silhouettes to represent each of the former pupils who died during World War One.

"For our current pupils, who are close in age to those who died, it is a sombre reflection of the huge contribution made by our school.

"It is hoped that our involvement in this initiative will encourage other schools and community groups to honour their former pupils and local fallen by purchasing and displaying silhouettes."

As part of the campaign There But Not There, the seated silhouettes are available for any community group in Northern Ireland to buy to commemorate local men who fell 100 years ago.

The silhouettes have been designed by conceptual photographer and installation artist Martin Barraud, who first created the Perspex men representing the Fallen in Penshurst Church in Kent two years ago.

For groups unable to afford the silhouettes, the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has made £2m available in small grants for groups to purchase 10 silhouettes each. There But Not There launched at Giant's Causeway - alongside other iconic locations in the UK - earlier this year. In that time, the campaign has raised £1.8m for a consortium of military and mental health charities.

Mr Barraud, who is also chair of trustees, said: "Our hope is that more groups look to buy these silhouettes to commemorate those in the local community who were lost a century ago. Northern Ireland made a huge contribution to the First World War - a conflict that left a heart-wrenching imprint on local communities across the country.

"It is only right that we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and never came home."

Belfast Telegraph

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