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BLESSING OF THE BANNERS

Admm8h | 2 November 2021

Lord Wandsworth College Blessing of the CCF Banners Parade

 

On Friday the 15th of October 2021 the CCF of Lord Wandsworth College held a once in thirty years ceremony of the blessing of the banners. It was a very big event and the whole school attended to watch, with a massive chinook stood proud behind them.

 

I was quite excited for the blessing of the banners (not just because I got to miss period 2!) but because I had heard that it was a once in thirty years event so not many people would be able to experience it let alone be a part of it. It was almost like seeing something like a lunar eclipse but instead of watching it from earth, I was the moon and everyone was watching me.

   

As they were moving towards the parade, the cadets gathered by the sports field and were surprised to see a chinook land behind the parade ground. There was plenty of frantic videoing and amazed shouting. “It just circled closer and closer until we realised that it was actually landing!” said one cadet. As the chinook’s blades spun rapidly in the air all the cadets around me stood in awe. When we were lining up to start marching, I could feel the nervous excitement around me. As we heard the start of the drums and the bagpipes we started to march down to the war memorial area.

   

As we marched down from Sutton Hall to the field in front of the war memorial the realisation of how big an occasion this was really hit me like a brick wall. I could see the whole school waiting expectantly as I got nearer the field and I could pick out the people I knew: my sister, my mates, my teachers and my housemaster. The whole school had gathered, and it was immense. As we marched into ranks, I could see the banners in front of me; they were spectacular.

 

In practice we’d had a couple of struggles with the halt as we hit the parade square and so I was slightly sceptical on how much of a fool I’d look when I wouldn’t hear the call ‘HALT!’ But like the rest of the ceremony, it was smooth and without a mistake.

 

We all stood still until commanded. When we were at attention the Lord Lieutenant walked in through the gates along with the headmaster. This was when we all felt proud of our contingent. The blessing of the banners was continued after a series of commands in the banner party. The banners were presented and then blessed by a priest. This was a very important part of the ceremony and so everyone was silent during it. I can officially say that I have now spoken to a Queen’s representative, it was such an honour. That’s right, the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire spoke to me.

   

As the Lord Lieutenant was making his speech I realised that soon the ceremony would be over. And towards the end, I felt very lucky and privileged. I was able to be a part of this once in thirty years ceremony. Only a few people can say that. And that was one of the most amazing things about that day… I took part in the blessing of the banners.

 

“Even though it was difficult, it was rewarding and fun.” said one of the cadets in the Banner Party. “This parade was especially important as many people have died protecting their regimental banners, so we give them the utmost care and respect they deserve.”

   

When we had finished our parade, we saw an amazing show of Gazelle helicopters. They weaved in and out of each other like nothing I’ve ever seen before. . “It was like a scene from an action movie!” said one enthusiastic cadet. They hung there for a bit, letting everyone turn around in amazement, and then flashed their lights in sync. Turning around, they both flew over so that they were over the sports field and started to dive, pulling up to form a wide arc. They then drifted round 180 degrees and dived down again. As one excited student put it: “An aerial half-pipe!” As the aerobatics finished and the Gazelles landed to great applause, the cadets, for all their hard work, were able to meet the pilots and see the engines and cockpits of the helicopters.

 

All in all the whole day was an experience I will never forget and I was so honoured to be a part of it. LWC’s blessing of the banners parade was one of those moments I don’t think I will ever forget.

 

Written by cadets from Lord Wandsworth College:

 

Cdt Caitlin Loten, Cdt Grace Batley, Cdt Zack Williams, Cdt Will Hoyland

 

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