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Erin’s Jutland poem showcased at London charity gala

Erin’s Jutland poem showcased at London charity gala
09 May 2017

A poem by Orkney school pupil Erin Dundas portraying the grief stricken aftermath of the Battle of Jutland has been read out an event in London whose attendees included the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Gordon Messenger, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond.

Erin Dundas with Captain Chris Smith, Royal Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland, receiving her award last year.

Erin Dundas is pictured with Captain Chris Smith, Royal Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland, receiving her award last year.

‘Jutland’ was written last year by Erin, then in P7 at Orphir Community School, during the 100 year commemorations of the Battle of Jutland and entered into a national poetry and art competition by charity Never Such Innocence.

Erin’s poem, along with an artwork by Kayla Muir from Glaitness Primary, went on to be chosen by the charity to be published in a special booklet, with ‘Jutland’ then going on to be selected as one of a handful of overall winning entries from two years of the competition.

The poem was read out recently at the charity’s gala dinner, by well known opera singer Dame Felicity Lott.

Lady Lucy French, Chief Executive and Founder of Never Such Innocence said: “Erin’s poem has long been a favourite here at the charity, as it creates such vivid imagery of the war and how it affected families.

"It was for both this reason, and that it represented the shocking loss of life at sea during the conflict, that we chose Jutland for showcasing at our gala event at the Canadian High Commission.

“Many guests were extremely touched and moved by the poetry that was read, and remarked on the wonderful ability of children like Erin to show emotional intelligence beyond their years, and a clarity of understanding about the First World War that eludes many adults.

"Orphir Community School, and indeed the whole of Orkney, should be very proud.”

Speaking about her poem Erin said: “We did some research as a class on the Battle of Jutland as it was the 100 years commemoration.

“I was inspired by a picture, based on the Battle, of a ship tilting sideways.

"I do a read a lot in general and drew upon different styles to reflect the emotions that may have been felt at the time.
“I was really surprised to hear that my poem had been chosen again but pleased at the same time.”

Never Such Innocence engaged with over 1,500 children from more than 100 schools in commemorating the First World War through poetry and art.

All of the winning entries have been published in a special booklet which is available to view on the charity’s website.

Jutland - by Erin Dundas

Ships littered the blue deathbed,

The best of the best, wound up dead.

Families are horror-struck,

Many sailors are stuck,

That’s not what anyone said.

Mothers anxiously wait for some news,

Then everyone fills the pews,

Children blubbing,

Very troubling,

A quick battle, that’s what they said.

The most tragic story ever told,

The Battle of Jutland,

100 Years Old.

More information about the Never Such Innocence charity

Never Such Innocence is a registered charity (number 1156148) in England and Wales and is a unique project fitting into the wider series of 2014 to 2018 centenary activities. Our aim is to ensure young people nationally are inspired, informed and included in the centenary activities. We work with High Commissions and Embassies to highlight the global nature of the war, particularly focusing on the Commonwealth contribution, to encourage young people to actively learn about their shared history and heritage.

The charity takes its name from Philip Larkin’s famous poem 'MCMXIV', which reflects on the changes caused by the First World War. The driving force behind Never Such Innocence is Lady Lucy French, great-granddaughter of Field Marshal Sir John French who commanded the British Expeditionary Forces from 1914 to 1915.