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‘Remarkable honour’: Northern Ireland pupils to join Royal Albert Hall remembrance festival

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In tune: Alfie Gray, Ziede Bubeleviciute, Sophie Strong, Ashley Binu and Mikey Chambers with teacher Mark Henry, Vice Principal Fiona Smart and Principal Jeremy Armstrong. Credit: Stephen Hamilton

In tune: Alfie Gray, Ziede Bubeleviciute, Sophie Strong, Ashley Binu and Mikey Chambers with teacher Mark Henry, Vice Principal Fiona Smart and Principal Jeremy Armstrong. Credit: Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

In tune: Alfie Gray, Ziede Bubeleviciute, Sophie Strong, Ashley Binu and Mikey Chambers with teacher Mark Henry, Vice Principal Fiona Smart and Principal Jeremy Armstrong. Credit: Stephen Hamilton

Pupils from an east Belfast primary school are set for a starring role in one of the highlights of the television calendar on Saturday night.

The prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London will be the venue for the annual Festival of Remembrance in what is the Royal British Legion’s centenary year.

The first service was held in 1923, with the event covered by the BBC since 1927, and this year pupils from Brooklands Primary School in Dundonald will be taking part in the ceremony, which is watched by millions ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

Teacher Mark Henry said it was a “remarkable honour” for the pupils to be asked to represent Northern Ireland at the event, which will be attended by members of the royal family.

Five pupils from the school — Ziede Bubeleviciute and Sophie Strong from P6 and Ashley Binu, Alfie Gray and Mikey Chambers from P7 were asked to pre-record their own thoughts on what ‘the poppy today’ means to them.

And while there is no trip to London to take in the festival this year, there’ll be special permission to stay up late on Saturday night to watch the pupils perform, which will also feature artists including Alfie Boe, Cynthia Erivo, Gregory Porter and Alexandra Burke paying tribute.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have been asked to take part in the event,” said P7 teacher at the school Mr Henry, who co-ordinated the pupils’ contribution with vice-principal Mrs Fiona Smart.

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“We have a great relationship with the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum and have worked on projects with them before, so when the BBC approached them to see if they could suggest a school which could be involved, we were delighted that Brooklands was put forward.

“We had to film our effort a few weeks ago and it was all wrapped up over the Halloween holidays,” he explained.

“What you’ll see on video isn’t pre-scripted,” added Mr Henry.

“We’ve been told we’re definitely going to feature somewhere in the proceedings, and it’s an honour for Brooklands to be there representing the whole of Northern Ireland.”

BBC veteran Huw Edwards will be presenting the show, and has already sent a message to the pupils Brooklands PS over social media to congratulate them on their performances. Former First Minister Arlene Foster also sent her well wishes to the pupils.

“Wow! Will be watching to spot all the superstars from Brooklands!” said Ms Foster.

Brooklands Principal Jeremy Armstrong added: “We’re all excited to see them take part in such a wonderful occasion that will be watched by millions around the country.

“It’s a wonderful occasion for the pupils at this school to be asked to be involved with.”

The Festival of Remembrance from the Royal Albert Hall will be screened on BBC1 NI from 9pm on Saturday evening.


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