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Pupils bring decorated chairs to Portsmouth Cathedral

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Leavers Service chairs webSome of the decorated chairs brought into the cathedral by C of E schools.

More than 1,000 pupils celebrated everyday heroes by bringing their decorated chairs to Portsmouth Cathedral.

The Year 6 pupils from 29 different C of E schools in south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight came to one of three separate Leavers’ Services to mark the end of their time in primary school. And each school brought with them a chair decorated by pupils to be a seat for someone who is a hero in everyday life.

Among the chairs brought to the cathedral were those decorated in memory of ordinary soldiers who died in the First World War, those that celebrated people working in the caring professions, and those that reflected the Christian values of their school.

Before each service there was a morning of workshops that explored the theme of heroes in more detail. Children learnt how to signal using naval flags, reflecting the heroic deeds of Admiral Lord Nelson. They went on a trail around the cathedral which linked heroes of the past with those of the present. And they designed a coat of arms to represent the character traits of heroes.

Ruby Philp, aged 11, from Newtown C of E Primary School in Gosport, said: “I enjoyed making our shield, with bright colours and symbols on it to represent our school. I didn’t know what to think about coming to the cathedral, but it has been a lot more fun than I thought it would be.”

And Louis Bingham, 11, from St Jude’s C of E Primary School in Portsmouth, said: “It has been really good. I’ve enjoyed it. The trail helped us to find out about everyday heroes, and it was good to do the signing with the flags.”

Leavers Service signalling webPupils from St George’s C of E Primary School in Portsea try out naval flag signalling.

The Leavers Service itself included the chance for some children to dress up as everyday heroes, and to hear about the disciple Peter, an ordinary fisherman who Jesus used to launch his Church. The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, spoke at one of the three services, with clergy colleagues leading the other two. Pupils from some schools were also invited to explain the thinking behind the decoration of their chairs.

Each school was presented with a special candle to light when prayers are said in school over the next year, and each child was given a wristband to remind them that they are all heroes in the eyes of God.

The children’s chairs will be left in the cathedral for two weeks to allow visitors to see the pupils’ creativity. The chairs will then be returned to the schools to be used over the next 12 months in lessons and acts of worship when everyday heroes are celebrated.

Similar services were also held in Winchester Cathedral. In all, 160 C of E schools across Hampshire, parts of Dorset and the Isle of Wight were invited to bring their chairs to one of the two cathedrals.

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