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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 06:14 GMT 07:14 UK
Pupils follow D-Day veterans back
A group of schoolgirls are to accompany D-Day veterans when they return to Normandy for the 60th anniversary after winning a national competition.

The 11 pupils from Abbey Grange Church of England High School in Leeds won the chance to sail with elderly World War II servicemen in a history contest.

The 14 and 15-year-olds will board the Van Gogh vessel and depart from Southampton on 4 June.

The veterans and the girls will take part in D-Day ceremonies on 6 June.

These young ladies have shown tremendous interest and I'm only too pleased to be associated with them.
Gerry Briscoe, D-Day veteran

Student Maggie Heathcote, 15, said: "I was amazed and surprised when I found out we'd won, I'm definitely looking forward to going."

The pupils won the D-Day And Beyond competition by completing projects, such as a mural and a website, showing what they would learn from taking part in the celebrations and how they would help local communities learn from their experiences.

The contest was led by the Imperial War Museum and formed part of the New Opportunities Fund's Veterans Reunited programme.

When they said that at 16 they joined the Army and were using rifles, I thought in just a few months I could be doing that, but I can't imagine it.
Daisy Ware, 15

As part of their research, the girls spoke to Gerry Briscoe, 79, chairman of the D-Day Normandy Veterans, and Peter Strachan, 81, both from Bradford, West Yorkshire.

Mr Briscoe, who landed in Normandy on D-Day, said: "These young ladies have shown tremendous interest and I'm only too pleased to be associated with them.

"It's surprising the interest people show in the war and I'm proud to be associated with it but it's over and done with now."

Daisy Ware, 15, added: "It's really, really interesting just to find out what they did and how they felt.

"When they said that at 16 they joined the Army and were using rifles, I thought in just a few months I could be doing that, but I can't imagine it."





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