History Battlefields Trip 2018

Traditionally an unlucky day, Friday the 13th was anything but unlucky for the 76 staff and students (and Roly our driver) as we headed off to France and Belgium for our annual battlefields trip.

We arrived in a very foggy France fairly early in the morning and headed to the Somme area and Thiepval. Panashe Nyamakanga and Hannah Kenny laid a wreath with Mr Gay to honour his great uncle Francis Gay whose name is on the monument at Thiepval. After a short stop in the museum and gift shop we headed off to our next stop, Vimy Ridge.

Once at Vimy, we enjoyed spectacular views over the French countryside, as well as the awesome sight of this impressive memorial to the Canadian forces. After a photo stop, we headed towards Ypres in Belgium for lunch.

Later on, after we had checked in and freshened up - we headed out for a chicken and chips dinner before going to the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. Mr Gay had arranged for St. Thomas Aquinas students to be part of the ceremony so Benedict O'Neil, Katie Priest and Greg Tibbits laid a wreath to the fallen on behalf of our school community. This was a wonderful occasion and one which was truly special.

After the Last Post Ceremony, students enjoyed some free time, playing games in the hotel or going out for pizza next door!

Our second day (also known as Phoebe's 16th birthday!) began shortly after breakfast, as we headed out for Bruges. The students were free to explore this lovely town - many of them enjoyed the unusually shaped chocolate, or rented a bike to explore. Some even joined us for a canal boat ride! Greg and John Hardy recommended the mussels (all 45 of them) and fries for lunch! After our bellies were filled, the students entertained the locals on a stage in the middle of the main square, with singing and dancing. Other tourists flocked to take photographs of this bunch of minor celebrities!

After our day in Bruges, we went to Tyne Cot Cemetery and reflected on the sacrifices made by millions of men during the First World War. Later on, back at the hotel, it was time for more fun and games. Jack Denn played 'hide and seek', whilst Tyreece and Rizza has a Floss dance off. Others enjoyed a few games of pool, and Mr Trafford made maths fun at the chalk board!

Our final morning was spent exploring the chocolate shops in Ypres before stopping for lunch and then heading home on the coach. The journey home is always fun - lots of Karaoke to sing to, and Mr Gay's 'special mentions' list for students who have made an impact on us during our time away. Highlights included Jake Alberice 'twinning' with Mr Gay and our Year 13s entertaining us non-stop (#401). We then awarded our 'top tripper' awards to Katelyn Stephenson and Benedict O'Neill, who both absorbed and enjoyed every minute of the trip, simply by being themselves. As always the trip doesn't happen without staff to support the trip so a huge 'Thank You' to Mr O'Sullivan and Mr Trafford, and to Mr Gay, our Captain, who really is the heart and soul of the trip.

Photos on Twitter @STACSHistory and video to follow soon!

Mrs Lavelle
Head of More House

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