Young Church Member’s "Great War" Poem Leads To Meeting With Prince

News Release

Hannah Cunningham is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and lives with her family in Bangor, County Down.

 

Hannah is a pupil at Sullivan Upper School, Holywood, and as part of an English homework project, she composed a poem that was then entered into the “Never Such Innocence” competition, an initiative designed to engage young people in the First World War centenary in 2018 through poetry, art and song.

Hannah’s poem, “Three Brothers”, was a tribute to her great-grandfather and two of his brothers, her great-great-uncles, all of whom who served during the conflict.

The excellence of her work so impressed the competition judges that Hannah was invited to participate in two major events in Belfast to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.

The first, a service to recognise the Irish combatants who received the Victoria Cross for bravery, took place in October at the Presbyterian Assembly Buildings. She was asked to share her poem as part of the programme. Afterwards, she met with the Right Honourable Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Lieutenant Colonel Kingsley Donaldson.

She was also invited to participate in the Service of Commemoration held at St Anne’s Cathedral on Remembrance Sunday, 11th November 2018. This was attended by HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York and other public figures.

Hannah was chosen to be a Book Bearer of one of four volumes containing the names of all Irishmen who gave their lives during World War One. These books were then presented to selected dignitaries, who in turn laid them at a Field Altar in the Cathedral. 

All the Book Bearers had a direct connection to the Irishmen whose names were listed in the books. In Hannah’s case, this was one of the “Three Brothers” mentioned in her poem.

Following the presentation of the books each Book Bearer then collected a lit lantern and carried it to a point in the Cathedral.  As an act of commemoration, the lights were dimmed, and the lanterns shone. The Book Bearers, now Lantern Bearers, were there to represent the hope for the future with lessons learned from the past.

Following the service, Hannah had an opportunity to meet with Prince Andrew.

Reflecting afterwards, Hannah (who is also an accomplished Irish dancer) said with typical modestly: “It has been an amazing experience. But how did it happen? All I did was my homework!"

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