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Public invited to share war commemorations with University

As the United Kingdom marks 100 years since the start of the First World War, plans have been revealed for the public to join with staff and students at the University of Roehampton to commemorate the conflict.

Posted: 4 August 2014

image for news story Public invited to share war commemorations with University
The memorial at the University's Digby Stuart College

Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul O’Prey is due to represent the University tonight at a vigil in Westminster Abbey, in the presence of the Duchess of Cornwall, representing the Queen. The service will be presided over by the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, the Anglican Dean of Westminster, and one of the University’s Pro Chancellors.

This morning, Monday 4 August, prayers were said at the University’s Southlands College chapel by Reverend David Innes in memory of those who died in the ‘war to end all wars’.

A new display at the University’s Whitelands College charts life as it was in the ‘age of innocence’ before war was declared, focusing on how May Day was celebrated in 1914, when the college was based in Chelsea. Parts of the Whitelands campus grounds, then owned by Jesuits, were used to train troops to dig trenches and practise manoeuvres.

Research is being carried out in the University’s archives, which stretch back well over 100 years, to discover how the lives and families of students 100 years ago in its four founding colleges were affected.

A number of events are being arranged in the coming months where the public can meet with senior members of the university and debate the work of the war poets, who have played such a strong role in shaping the way the country has learnt about and remembered the war.

The Vice-Chancellor, an expert on war poetry, will represent the University at a gathering at this year’s Wimbledon Book Festival on 12 October where a number of war poets’ work will be debated.

The University’s outgoing Chancellor, John Simpson, the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, will chair a discussion at the Imperial War Museum about the writings of several war poets, which will include readings by family members on 4 November.

A discussion of the work of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, a First World War Army Chaplain, will be held on the University’s campus with Andrew Studdert Kennedy, his grandson and Professor O’Prey next February.

At 11am on 11 November, a service of remembrance will be held at the University’s war memorial, which was created by the nuns who founded Digby Stuart College, now part of the University, to record the names of people from local families who had been lost.

A University spokesman said: “The First World War affected the lives of everyone today through uprooting established society, breaking down the old order and creating a more equal country. The national focus on the war will encourage our students to learn about this important part of our past as they become the leaders of the future, and is an opportunity for Wandsworth people to share in the debate with our academics.”

The commemorations at the University will include thoughts on modern conflicts, including the battles in Ukraine, in which Sister Philomene Tiernan lost her life on board flight MH17 which was shot down on 17 July. Sr Tiernan was a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart, which established the Univesity’s Digby Stuart College.

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