Ormskirk School to celebrate 400th anniversary on September 28
ORMSKIRK School will celebrate its 400th anniversary with a series of events for pupils and residents of the town next Friday.
September 28, 1612, was the day the grammar school was legally established by decree.
Throughout the year, the school and foundation trust has been celebrating the 400th anniversary of the formation of the Foundation Trust of Ormskirk Grammar School, with events including a gala dinner at Knowsley Hall.
But the culmination of the celebrations will take place next weekend – with an exhibition charting the history of the town, a concert and fireworks display. The school is collapsing its curriculum on Friday.
Pupils will be able to go in wearing normal clothes and take part in a series of activities and assemblies reflecting the school’s history organised by members of staff. They will also all be presented with a gift from the foundation governors.
Lord Derby will attend later in the day to plant an oak tree from the Knowsley Estate, emphasising the still strong link between the Stanley family, the trust and the school. Pupils will also get the first glimpse of the exhibition, which will be thrown open free to the public after school ends at 4pm until 8pm. Among the fascinating exhibits set to go on display are the original “Register for the School of Ormischurch” which is leather bound and about 4" thick.
It contains entries relating to transactions and meetings of the Foundation Trust from its earliest beginnings in 1612. One page is from 1614 and the final entry is in 1952.
The exhibition, organised by chair of foundation governors Rose Halsall, will also feature the original legal document from 1612 which formed the Foundation Trust.
Other items set for display include the original war memorial from the grammar school, and memorabilia from across the 1900s donated by ex- pupils and staff. There will also be a memorial tribute to William James Moorcroft – an Ormskirk Grammar School old boy who was a Lancaster bomber navigator in World War Two. Moorcroft was killed in battle over Belgium on July 14, 1943, aged just 22.
On Saturday, September 29, the school will hold a Fantasia concert, themed “1612 meets 2012”, performed by pupils. It will be followed by a spectacular firework display to bring to an end the year of celebrations. The exhibition will also be open to those attending prior to the concert which starts at 8pm. Tickets are strictly limited, email [email protected] gmail.com or call 01695 724624 to purchase.
John Doyle, head teacher, said: “I am indebted to the ‘400 group’ of governors and friends of the school for their organisation of a splendid year of celebrations. The events have really done justice to commemorating the transformative power of education over the last four centuries. I hope people are interested to see how things have changed during that time.”
Memorial - July 1st 2014
(speech of Mrs Rose HALSALL)
Honoured guests, staff and pupils of Ormskirk School.
I just wanted to tell you the story behind the re -dedication of the war memorial.
On July 11th 2012 the school was contacted by a man called Phil Ball who was trying to find information about a relative of his, William John Moorcroft, who had been a pupil at Ormskirk Grammar School. He had been a Navigator on a Lancaster Bomber, DS690, that had been shot down and crashed into a hillside in Belgium.
As I was organising an exhibition to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Foundation Trust, the enquiry was passed to me. Whilst I was gathering items and searching for information, I came across references to Moorcroft, and I found a booklet from the old school. The booklet was for Remembrance and showed the war memorial which had been on the wall of the school. When the school closed in 2002, the new Ormskirk School stayed in the same buildings for another two years, so the memorial became part of this school. I have replicated a copy of the booklet for the display.
In 2004 Ormskirk School moved to this new building and so items from the Grammar School and Crosshall School were put into storage. The war memorial was stored under the stage behind me, which is where I found it in 2012 and brought it out to display in the exhibition.
There was a great deal of interest in the memorial but it was stored away again afterwards until we could find it a new home.
By now I had become very interested in Moorcroft's story and had made him part of the exhibition. This was then reported in the Ormskirk Advertiser, which was seen by another relative, Andrew Leeming.
Last July, I joined Phil and Andrew in Belgium for the 70th anniversary of the death of the aircrew. I returned from that trip determined that the school war memorial must be restored and that Ormskirk School should honour all those local young men who fell in battle.
Throughout the ages it's been a universally held belief that to read out loud the names of the dead ensures that they are remembered forever. Today we are doing just that, and also putting faces and stories to some of those named on this memorial, for which I must thank a local military historian who has helped me, Chris Bentley.
After this ceremony I have arranged a group photo so that I can take it with me when I return to Belgium on Friday. The photo will be presented to village of Les Hayons on the 14th of July, the 71st anniversary of the crash.
We are fortunate that we are joined here today by Moorcroft's relatives. Phil Ball and his wife Julie have travelled all the way from Guernsey to be with us at this event, and Andrew Leeming has come up from Worcester
Finally, I would also like to welcome an honoured old boy of Ormskirk Grammar School, Mr John Postles. Mr Postles was a pupil from 1935 until 1940 and actually knew many of the young men whose names are on the memorial. He has kindly donated to the school his memories of his own service to his country in the form of a book. I'm sure he won't mind me also telling to that he will be 92 years old in September and is a D Day veteran.
William John Moorcroft – Killed in battle July 14th 1943 aged 22yrs
Navigator on Lancaster Bomber DS690
WJ Moorcroft was born 10 May 1921 and he was a pupil at Ormskirk Grammar School. During WW2 he joined the RAF and became the Navigator on a Lancaster bomber, DS690, which was shot down over Belgium in 1943. The aircraft crashed at La Cornette, a hamlet near to a village called Les Hayons. The residents found the bodies of the airmen and spirited them away before the Nazis could find them. They buried them in the graveyard of the village church. Despite threats of their entire families being killed, the Belgian people quietly sang the British National Anthem whilst the aircraft crew were being buried in an unmarked grave.
After the war ended, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission erected proper headstones on the grave. The villagers also erected a memorial at the crash site to the six men who died and ever since then they have honoured their memory on the anniversary of the crash, as well as on Remembrance Day.
Last year, on the 70th anniversary of the crash, a Service of Remembrance was held at the site. Ormskirk School was represented at this service and wreaths were laid both at the memorial and on the graves.
The Belgian people said that they owed a debt of gratitude to the Bomber crews because it was seeing the Lancaster bombers flying overhead that gave them hope that they would be free from occupation by the Nazis. They will never forget the sacrifice of our young men so that we could all be free.
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We shall remember them”
May they rest in Peace.