Canterbury College media student and National Citizen Service (NCS) graduate Carla Binder took part in a special event to commemorate the centenary of the World War One Battle of Passchendale.
The 17-year-old was given the opportunity to get involved after a group of almost 100 NCS graduates were invited by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DDCMS).
Carla attended the UK ceremony of remembrance in Belgium on the 30th and 31st July. This formed part of the commemorations for the First World War centenary, which saw over 4,000 people from across the UK follow their ancestors’ journey to the Western Front.
NCS grads took on important roles during the commemoration, and put the life skills they learnt on NCS to good use. Their experience on the flagship youth empowerment programme meant they had already learnt how to live away from home, got to know incredible people from different walks of life, developed skills that employers value and made a difference by volunteering for a charity or cause close to their heart. The positive impact of NCS meant that the grads felt confident about representing their generation at such an important national event.
Carla said: “It has been such an honour and life changing experience that I will remember for many years to come.
“I wanted to attend the events in Belgium on 30th and 31st July because it was a once in a life time opportunity to remember those who fought in World War One. I’ve learnt about it in many history lessons, and wanted to go with NCS to try and give something back, and pay my respects in a way that’s there to remember and honour those who fought in the World War.
“Being invited to the Centenary events in Belgium was incredibly special as it’s something not many young people were able to do. I was particularly proud to be one of the 100 chosen to represent the UK.
"One of the most poignant moments which really hit home the scale of what we were remembering was seeing for myself the Tyne Cot cemetery. The whole trip left with some amazing memories as I met a range of people who have become treasured friends. It was incredible to have dignitaries, members of the public and descendants of those who fought in the war thanking me, which made me feel very proud of what I have achieved to be there.
“I took on a number of roles while I was there, from assisting dignitaries to helping members of the public during the parade at the Menin Gate.
“I think it was important to represent young people at the event because it gives youths a voice at events like this and enables us to show the positive side of young people in Britain nationally and internationally.”
Michael Lynas, CEO of NCS Trust, says: “One hundred National Citizen Service graduates were honoured to serve our country at the Centenary of Passchendaele events. I am proud of how these young people represented their generation as they met descendants, the Royal Family and the Prime Minister. I know that these young National Citizen Service graduates will help ensure that the sacrifice of the fallen will be remembered for generations to come.”
NCS is set to achieve a record breaking year with more than 100,000 young people signed up for a summer of fun, adventure and social action. Canterbury College was recently named a ‘Champion College’ for the work undertaken to get students engaged in the NCS. If you’d be interested there are still places available for this year for 15 to 17 year olds who would like to experience living away from home, develop skills to boost their CV, and meet amazing people they’ll never forget. To sign up, go to www.ncsyes.co.uk.