There But Not There - 1918 to 2018

10th January 2019

On the evening of Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th November 2018 the Chatham Site Library became the home of a number of silhouettes, the Tommies.  The installation was envisioned to bring the names from our past out of the book of remembrance to sit amongst us, to commemorate the Armistice Centenary of the First World War as part of the There but Not There national project.

In the half-light the silhouettes could not always be seen although when walking around the silent
room they became clearer for a moment, or, out of the corner of your eye a glimpse of a head and shoulders appeared. I must admit it was slightly eerie. Anyone who has been in the Library at Chatham will understand that at 8pm on a dark evening, even amongst the books and art of today you can feel the age of the building; making you think about the people who have  spent time in that wonderful room throughout the years. However, as I placed the names and the details of the life and death of each of our fallen by a silhouette, they took on their own identity.  Whilst very sad to reflect on their short lives, I found it very moving and a privilege, as I am now and will always be a part of our school, to have arranged the installation in their memory. As a number of the silhouettes wore past school ties the connection to us today was tangible; truly bringing each of them out of the book to be remembered.

Students and staff both past & present, with family and friends took the time to visit; reading our Tommies’ stories brought home the sacrifice in the First World War which was made by so many.
Visitors reflected in private and a number of them told me stories from their own family history. A number of current students who visited during the school day returned with older family members in the evening; one grandfather had been so impressed with their grandchild’s account and enthusiasm of the installation he made a special journey from out of the area on Saturday to see for himself.

At a moving service of remembrance on Saturday 10th November a wreath was dedicated by
both a current and former student to all the fallen. This is now positioned on the central arch of the
stained glass window for future members of our school to reflect on, and, hopefully to continue the remembrance for the next 100 years.

In today’s social media whirl only a few posts were made, or private photos taken which I think reveals the thoughtful and reflective atmosphere the installation created. I have been asked by a number of people if there was a record of the event available for purchase which I have now been able to arrange through publication of a memorial leaflet. Profit from the leaflet and collection during the installation will be sent to the There but Not There charities. (Thank you to the two Adams and Andy for their photos and publishing skills) The cost of the full colour leaflet is £2 and with a limited number available they will go to those who email me first: shurrell@ccgrammarschool.co.uk. There will also be a number of them at each of the three receptions from Monday 14th January for visitors/students to pay and collect.

I would like to thank all those who helped in this installation and those who took the time to visit.
I would also like to give you notice that this year is the 80th Anniversary (thank you Adam) of the start of the Second World War – only 21years after the Armistice – we therefore hope to bring the names of our fallen in that conflict out of the book to also sit amongst us and be remembered in November.
 


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