In a recent news release we discussed how Billy Lavender (Great Uncle of Steve & Dave Lavender) was a casualty on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916.

Steve Lavender and colleague Chrissie Yates spent time with local school children bringing Billy’s story to the young people.  In an effort to fully engage the children, Steve & Chrissie set up a competition for the youngsters to write a letter or a poem to Billy, expressing their thoughts on the Battle and the sacrifice made by the young men 100 years ago.  The response was amazing and we received many entries from which a winner was selected by members of the Penistone Literary Festival team.

Evie Watson, aged 11, from Thurlstone School wrote the winning entry and Steve Lavender was so impressed with it that he obtained permission from the organisers to read it at the Penistone Somme Commemorative Event on 1st July 2016.  At the conclusion of the reading a round of applause broke out throughout the congregation.  At the event Dave Lavender laid a wreath in memory of Billy.

Evie’s poem was read out at her school assembly a week later where she was given her prize.  Here is a photo of Evie and Steve Lavender at St John’s Church, Penistone and her poem is presented below with her permission.  Well done and thank you Evie.

Somme poem winnerEvie Watson, Aged 11. Thurlstone Junior School. 01.07.2016

A Poem for Billy

Dear Billy,
Life at Penistone is different now
I am lucky enough to go to a fantastic school.
This area is full of kind people
And there are lots of things to do.
You can go to a beautiful restaurant,
Or go to a park.

Dear Billy,
It’s not only Penistone that’s different now.
I am a girl,
And I’m still able to vote when I’m eighteen.
There are so many amazing places to visit.
I’ve been to Greece,
And I will be going to Amsterdam next year.

Dear Billy,
Our lives are so different from yours.
We’re much more free to be individual.
Technology has altered every bit of our lives,
The way we learn; the way we have fun; the way we travel,
And so much more.
We can also understand what war is really like.

Dear Billy,
Because of you I can live a free life
I don’t have to hide from armies.
I don’t have to think about making the sacrifices you made for this country.

Dear Billy,
War is not pretty or fun,
But you knew that and still signed up.
You knew that you might not see your family again,
But you still signed up.
That is true bravery.

Dear Billy,
If it wasn’t for you,
Our lives wouldn’t be what they are now.
If you hadn’t done what you did,
We would be living in fear.

Dear Billy,
Thank you.


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