YOUNGSTERS from a North-East performing arts academy have returned from a battlefields trip in memory of fallen soldiers.

About 30 students from Enter CIC in Ferryhill, County Durham, performed in Belgium, at the Menin Gate, a memorial dedicated to soldiers killed in the Ypres Salient of the First World War.

The group’s director, Andrea Flynn, said the youngsters had been hugely moved by the tour.

She said: “They will never forget the experience, and I think they will have a lifelong understanding of the impact of World War One, not only on yesteryear, but on today's society and that they now comprehend the sacrifice made by so many brave and very young people.”

The students performed at commemorative memorials including, St George's Memorial Church, Cloth Hall and Talbot House.

Cameron Gough, creative coordinator at Enter CIC said: "After the performance at Cloth Hall, veterans and their relatives from an array of nationalities who witnessed the performances were in tears.

"The crowd wished to express both their appreciation of the performance and their gratitude to the young people for 'remembering'.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for our young people to visit an iconic landmark that is a symbol of strength and rebirth."

They group was granted special permission to perform at Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest British and Commonwealth World War One Memorial in the world.

One of the performers was 10-year-old Ashton, she said: "It's very moving to stand in this place and sing. I hope the soldiers know that we are remembering them through our singing and that we will never forget them."

The group were given the special honour of singing 'Silent Night' on the very site where the Christmas Truce took place nearly 104 years earlier.

Since their visit, the youngsters have been inundated with messages from Belgian dignitaries astounded by the performance including, Dame Patricia C. Hawkins-Windsor, of St George's Memorial Church.

She said: "How can we ever put into words the emotion we have witnessed today in this heartfelt performance. I think the famous World War War poet John McCrae author of Flanders Field would have been moved so deeply by your performance that he would have said 'thank you'.

“What he did and suffered for was for the future of people like you."

In preparation for the visit, the performers participated in workshops held by the Green Howards Museum, Heugh Battery Museum and Northumbria World War One Commemoration project.

Enter CIC will be performing at a number of commemorative events leading up to Remembrance Day.

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