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Young adults tend to German war graves to mark 58-year friendship

By Jordan Reynolds | Cannock Chase | News | Published:

Young people from Staffordshire have been tending to the war graves at the German Military Cemetery on Cannock Chase, marking a 58-year partnership between the German War Graves Commission in Bremen and Staffordshire County Council.

Kath Perry MBE chairwoman of Staffordshire County Council on the right with Charlie Evans, 18, Emmie Tapper, 20, Millie Gould, 17, Megan Crutchley, 17, Ben Tapper, 17

The young people would normally be joined by teenagers from Germany, however because of coronavirus travel restrictions, it has not been possible this year.

Organised by Staffordshire Council of Voluntary Youth Services (SCVYS), the six young people spent Wednesday cleaning and tidying the graves at the cemetery before joining the chairman of Staffordshire County Council for a small service of remembrance.

The Cannock Chase German War Cemetery. The Staffordshire Council of Voluntary Youth Service has had youngsters there helping to tidy up the graves
The Cannock Chase German War Cemetery

They will also take part in video calls with young people in Germany who have been tending to graves in Bremen.

Over the years, the exchange has given young people the chance to build new friendships, improve their language skills, learn more about the history of the World Wars, and be involved in projects that concentrate on the theme of peace and reconciliation.

Charlie Evans, 18, from Hednesford said: “This is a fantastic project that gives us a chance to remember the fallen and come together in unification and reconciliation.

“The project allows beautiful friendships and connections to form, to ensure the past will not be created again. I am so thankful to SCVYS for the opportunity that they provide on this camp every year and it shows the resilience of the project that we are still able to come together despite the barriers faced by the pandemic.”

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Megan Crutchley, 17 and from Hednesford

Mark Sutton, cabinet member for children and young people at Staffordshire County Council, said: “Young people have been visiting Staffordshire from Germany as part of this amazing friendship for almost 60 years now.

“It’s really sad that this year, because of coronavirus, the young people were not able to meet up and get together in person. But they were still determined to mark the event and through the wonders of modern technology they were able to join up virtually.”

Ben Tapper, 17, from Burntwood

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Kath Perry, chairwoman at Staffordshire County Council, added: “This is a wonderful partnership that gives the teenagers the opportunity to make new friends, share experiences, and learn from each other, while remembering those who lost their lives in the two World Wars.

“It’s important that young people maintain these friendships, learn from the past and work together to build a better future.”

Phil Pusey, chief executive of SCVYS, said: "I am delighted that working with our German friends we have been able to use a mixture of digital technology and small scale gatherings to bring young people from both countries together to achieve many of the camp objectives in a safe way. Marking this annual event has been important in sustaining our longstanding international youth partnership."

The German Military Cemetery on Cannock Chase is the only German cemetery in the country and lies next to the Commonwealth graves on Cannock Chase.

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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