YOUNGSTERS at Shiplake Primary School are playing their part to cement a friendship link with children in northern France.
Year five pupils at the Memorial Avenue school have written letters to schoolchildren in Ors.
They decided to put pens to paper after a visit from Beth Timms, from the Dunsden Owen Association, a group celebrating First World War poet Wilfred Owen’s connection to the village.
Owen lived in Dunsden from September 1911 until February 1913 and was a lay assistant to the vicar of All Saints’ Church.
Teacher Emily Potter said the children were studying their local history topic and Mrs Timms came and spoke to them.
Owen enlisted into the army in 1915 and was commissioned into the Manchester Regiment.
He was killed on November 4, 1918, while attempting to lead his men across the Sambre-Oise canal at Ors.
The children have written about their families, where they live, what they enjoy doing and what they would like to know about the children who will receive the letters.
Mrs Timms said: “I’m really pleased. I think they have worked really hard and I think it’ll be really interesting to see the differences between, but also the similarities with, the children in France.”
Meanwhile, the Dunsden Owen Association held a Mementoes and Memories day at Eye and Dunsden Village Hall encouraging people to come forward with stories and artefacts for an exhibition to be held on November 7, 8 and 9.
John Bodman, the association’s co-chairman, had many items from his own collection on display but some had also been loaned from the Berkshire Yeomanry Museum.
Items brought in on the day included transcripts of letters sent home from serving soldiers.
Mr Bodman told the Henley Standard: “We’ve had a very good day but we would like more people to come forward with aural history and treasured family artefacts, not just about the war but how Dunsden has changed over the years.”
Contact Mrs Timms on 0118 946 1987, Mr Bodman at email@example.com or visit the website www.owenindunsden.org
Also, about 300 people visited a flower festival celebrating poetry and verse at All Saints’ Church in Dunsden.
There were 25 displays including one inspired by Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.
Angela Cadman, who organised the event with Pippa Hughes, created a display based on the poem On Leaving Dunsden by Richard Hart-Davis, the first vicar at All Saints.
Mrs Cadman herself is leaving the area as she and her husband are moving from their home in Balmore Park, Caversham, to Cornwall.
The festival also had contributions from Shiplake Primary School, Kingfisher Kindergarten, based at Eye and Dunsden village hall, and the Sunday Club of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Shiplake. Shiplake Handbell Ringers provided musical entertainment.
About £1,200 was raised for the church.