Hylton Castle Mission played host to the ‘From Civilian to Soldier’ World War One Commemoration staged by the Hylton Castle Project.

The education event was organised to help recreate the role the historic castle and grounds played as an army training centre and recuperation and convalescence hospital during the war, and the impact that the conflict had on local families and the community.

Pupils from primary, middle and secondary schools from Sunderland and Tyneside, could visit a WWI Field Hospital and Field Kitchen, see a replica WWI plane, and learn more about the life of WWI servicemen and their families with WWI music, artefacts, food and activities including making a poppy themed proggy clippy mat.

In addition, members of the local 251 Medical Squadron (225 Medical Regiment – Army Reserve) were on-site with a modern Field Hospital to help illustrate the advance in medical treatment/equipment now available.

Sunderland City Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “The event has been a great success, all the children seemed to enjoy themselves but also learn a great deal about the history and social fabric of the time.

“My thanks to all those groups and volunteers who helped bring history to life for the children with the uniforms, equipment and reminders of how things were a hundred years ago, both for the soldiers and those families and communities they left behind.

“It was also a great way to remind people of the diverse history of Hylton Castle as restoration continues to return it, as it has been through the generations, to the centre of community life.

Activities during’ From Civilian to Soldier’ included:

working with costumed living history groups, to take part in a variety of hands-on activities from drill training to boot polishing.

bandaging wounds in a special casualty station and discovering how soldiers entertained themselves in the trenches.

the opportunity to listen to sounds endured by soldiers in the trenches and find out what affect these sounds and sights had on Sunderland artist Victor Noble Rainbird.

volunteers from the North East Land Sea and Air Museum were on hand with their replica 1916 monoplane.

children were able to explore a field kitchen to discover the types of food World War One soldiers had to eat

staff and students from Sunderland University’s Department of Pharmaceutical Science displayed an original World War One era pill making machine as well as a variety of potion bottles and ‘kill or cure’ remedies.

The schools taking part were: Castletown Primary, English Martyrs RC Primary, Hylton Castle Primary, Northern Saints CE Primary, Gosforth East Middle School, St Cuthbert’s Primary, St John Bosco RC Primary, and Town End Primary

Molly,10, from Castletown Primary said: “We all learned a lot about life during the First World War, and we had the chance to drill with the replica rifles.”

Classmate Jamie,10, added:”I knew a little about the war but this has really helped learn more about the history and life back then.”

Year six teacher at Castletown Primary, Eddie Davison said: “We are mainly studying the Second World War in class, but helping the children understand more about the events which helped lead up to it after the end of the First World War is very important.”

The event was hosted by Hylton Castle Mission in Canterbury Road, as the castle itself is still undergoing restoration.

Pastor Keith Cook of Hylton Castle Mission said “It was an honour to host this event for Hylton Castle.

“We were delighted to be able to welcome young people from the local community and further afield to come and learn about the special role played by the castle one hundred years ago and to commemorate all those who served in the First World War.”

The Hylton Castle Project is collaboration between Castle in the Community and Sunderland City Council, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Sunderland City Council.

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