GERMAN and British schoolchildren have come together to spread messages of hope and unity ahead of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Twelve pupils from Georg Forster School in Kreis Wesel, Germany, visited Park View School in Chester-le-Street to commemorate the centenary of the armistice.

The Poppies and Forget-me-nots project, named after each country’s remembrance flower, sees the children draw on their shared history.

Iain Veitch, headteacher of Park View School, said: “The more that they mix with those from other countries and cultures, and value and empathise with them, the less reasons they will find for conflict.

“In an age of renewed extremism, it is great to be part of an initiative which places love and understanding at the heart of remembrance.

“We are proud to stand hand-in-hand with our German friends, a fitting symbol of respect for our past and hope for our future.”

On Thursday, students discussed different attitudes to the conflict and exploring the reasons why people from both sides wanted to go to war.

Pupils also engaged in role-play, and wrote and exchanged letters in their own languages to portray the feelings of soldiers and of the family members they left behind.

After lunch, they took part in art and poetry workshops, looking at original writing from the closing days and months of conflict, including some from Durham Light Infantry soldiers.

They then visited the Courage, Comrades, Community exhibition at the DLI Collection Gallery in Palace Green Library.

Over the next few days the children will visit the Tommy sculpture in Seaham; design a commemorative glass etching, explore Beamish’s 1900 Town and take part in a military parade.

On Remembrance Day, the penultimate day of the visit, the children will return to Durham Cathedral for a Service of Remembrance, followed by a traditional armistice tea to celebrate the end of the war.

Natascha Spitzer, a teacher from Georg Forster School, said: “It is an ideal opportunity to show that remembering the horrors of war transcends nationality.

“Getting to know each other, working together, remembering together and making friends are prerequisites for maintaining peace in Europe.”