Ben McRae-Adams (14) from Braintree has won a Jack Petchey Achievement Award after being the first ever student to fully parade a bespoke secondary school flag or 'standard' at the Menin Gate Last Post Ceremony.
Tabor Academy, which Ben attends, was the first Essex school to be affiliated with the British Legion. It is also the only school in the UK to have a bespoke School Remembrance Standard that is connected to the organisation. It was this standard that Ben paraded at the Menin Gate.
The Royal British Legion Braintree & Bocking standard bearer and Essex county youth officer, Mr Gordon Roach, trained Ben in an intensive four week programme. By the end, Ben knew all of the protocols and performed the act with perfection in front of thousands of spectators.
With both of his great-grandfathers in the First World War, his grandfather in the army during the Second World War and his father in the RAF for 23 years, Ben has a huge connection to the military. Ben said, “It's important to take an interest in the First World War, because a generation of men and women gave their future to protect our future. We should always remember them.”
Ben has been taking part in Braintree’s Remembrance Day service and parade since he was six years old - firstly with the Beavers, then Cubs, Air Scouts and with the RAF ATC (Air Cadets). He has now been asked to become a Legion Junior Standard bearer to represent the county.
The Last Post Ceremony is a daily occurrence in Ypres, a Belgian town in West Flanders. It came about in 1928 when the Superintendent of Ypres Police, Mr P. Vandenbraambussche decided that the sounding of the Last Post was the best way to express gratitude for those who had fallen in the war for our freedom. Since 11th November 1929 the ceremony has taken place every single day at the Menin Gate Memorial - excluding the four years of German occupation of Ypres from 1940-1944.
The £200 grant that came with Ben’s Achievement Award will be spent on two pyrography kits, which allow users to decorate materials with burn marks, for the Technology Department.
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