Leeds students mark boy sailor’s death

PIC: Tony Johnson

PIC: Tony Johnson

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DRAMA group students from a Leeds school paid their respects to a boy sailor who died 100 years ago today as they prepare to stage a play set during World War One.

Horsforth School drama teacher James Bovington is co-ordinating a range of events in connection with the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Mr Bovington has written play called ‘The Pals’ which is set to to be staged at the school in July.

Students gathered at Horsforth Cemetery yesterday for a poignant wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of John Helston.

John Helston was a boy sailor who died from tuberculosis on March 25 1916.

Susan Watson of Horsforth Museum spoke to students about John Helston’s life and the sacrifice of the 23 service personnel whose Commonwealth War Graves are in Horsforth cemetery.

‘The Pals’ play written by Mr Bovington will be performed by 12 boys in the year 10 drama group on Wednesday, July 13, and Thursday, July 14.

It tells the story of Horace Iles, a 14-year-old from Woodhouse, Leeds, who joined the Leeds Pals Battalion underage in 1914.

Aged just 16, he was the youngest of the Leeds Pals to die a century ago.

In the play he and the other underage Pals, some of them based on real characters such as Horsforth’s 18-year-old Frank Clarke, are joined by Tom from the 21st century with a touching friendship that spans a hundred years.

Profits from ticket sales will go to to a number of military charities as well as a planned Horsforth School battlefields trip to see the graves of local men who fell at the Somme.

For tickets, email Mr Bovington directly at bovingjd01@horsforthschool.org or call Horsforth School on 0113 226 5454.