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Birmingham community leader heads tribute to soldiers

EDUCATING THE YOUTH: Reme Henry-Clarke (left) and Jodi Plant, of Corpus Christi Primary School with Eunice McGhie-Belgrave learnt about soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice

EACH YEAR veteran community stalwart Eunice McGhie-Belgrave organises a poignant service of remembrance to make sure schoolchildren never forget those soldiers who gave their todays for tomorrow’s generation.

All traffic is stopped on the five roads that converge at Stechford Cenotaph in Birmingham to allow hundreds of local youngsters to hold a two-minute’s silence and place wreaths of poppies around the monument bearing the names of 51 soldiers.

Last year with help from a Heritage Lottery award, Mrs McGhie-Belgrave launched a research project for children at the nearby Corpus Christi Catholic Primary and Stechford Primary to learn more about the local men who gave their lives in two world wars.

In a service led by Rev Griphus Gakuru, vicar of All Saint Church, people gathered to pay their respects for the third year running. The In Crowd singers led hymns during the service.

PAYING RESPECT: Pupils from Stechford Primary (from left) Malachy O’Brien, Ella Mai Bromage, Marissa Butt and Aryaan Ahmed with Eunice McGhie-Belgrave

Teacher Mary Lynch, of Corpus Christi Catholic Primary, said: “We have been studying World War Two in year six and pupils have written their own prayers and made wreaths for those soldiers who died.

“It’s been quite emotional for them as they made poppies and realised the sacrifices those young soldiers made. We have students with Polish roots who also found the work we have done very moving.”

Mrs McGhie-Belgrave, who was awarded an MBE for her services to the community, founded the community group Shades of Black in the wake of the Handsworth uprisings of the 1980s.

After the service she said: “It’s important to teach our children how to live and respect each other. They need to realise that these soldiers died so they can live in peace.”

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