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Brent students rub shoulders with Duke of Cambridge as part of First World War project

PUBLISHED: 12:23 11 November 2016 | UPDATED: 14:25 14 November 2016

The Duke of Cambridge with Newman Catholic College students at a ceremony in Willesden New Cemetery yesterday.

The Duke of Cambridge with Newman Catholic College students at a ceremony in Willesden New Cemetery yesterday.

Archant

It was a royal occasion for a crop of students at a Brent school who rubbed shoulders with the Duke of Cambridge as part of a history project yesterday.

The Duke of Cambridge visited Brent yesterday (Pic: Brent Council) The Duke of Cambridge visited Brent yesterday (Pic: Brent Council)

Newman Catholic College students have been making regular trips to Willesden New Cemetery this term to learn more about the First World War, but yesterday there was a special guest in the form of Prince William.

His Royal Highness was at the Franklyn Road cemetery to pay tribute to the men and women who gave their lives during the First World War at a ceremony which was also attended by Stonebridge-based community group St Michael’s Youth Project.

Headteacher Danny Coyle organised the project, along with school chaplain Kalina Boulter, which has seen students researching some of the names found on the graves at the cemetery.

“The Duke of Cambridge was absolutely smashing,” he said. “He spoke to our students for about 10 minutes about our school and the First World War.

The Duke of Cambridge in Brent yesterday (Pic: Brent Council) The Duke of Cambridge in Brent yesterday (Pic: Brent Council)

“They are fascinated by military history, so this War Graves Commission project has been an amazing experience for them.”

At the cemetery’s Cross of Sacrifice, found wherever a graveyard has more than 40 war dead, the last post was played by the St Michael’s and All Angels Steel Orchestra.

Prince William laid a flower with Michaela McKay, 14, just before The Last Post was played by the orchestra and a minute’s silence observed.

The 14-year-old, who is a member of the orchestra, said: “Prince William was asking me about the pans and I was telling him the notes the pans have and that it is very versatile instrument.

“He asked me if it was hard to play and I said it was ‘simple but not so simple’. The Last Post is really moving and it’s a privilege to play it.”

Prince William also gave staff and students a commemorative rose bush, which will be planted at the front of the Harlesden Road school over the next fortnight.

Cllr Parvez Ahmed, Mayor of Brent, added: “It was an honour to welcome His Royal Highness to Brent and join with him in remembering those who gave their lives for this country in the First World War.

“Too often we all take for granted the sacrifice they made, which regardless of the passing of time, should never be forgotten.”

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