Ascension Collegiate students win trip to Beaumont Hamel

Nicholas Mercer
Published on March 13, 2014
Two Ascension Collegiate, in Bay Roberts, students have been awarded the opportunity to travel to Beaumont Hamel June 27-July 5. Brittany Bishop (second from left) and Jessie Downey (second from right) were given the chance due to their work in the Remembrance Day poster contest. Also shown here are comrades Ross Petten (far left), president of provincial command and Marg Rosse, president of Branch 32.
Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass

Two students received some special news in the board room of Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts this morning (March 13).

Surrounded by members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 32, teachers David Trainor and Kim Welsh, as well as parents, students Jessie Downey and Brittany Bishop were given the news they will be visiting Beaumont Hamel on Canada Day.

As Bay Roberts Mayor, and Legion member, Philip Wood delivered the news, Downey and Bishop smiled bashfully.

Bishop secured her spot with a first place finish in the senior Remembrance Day colour poster contest, while Downey was second in the senior black and white poster contest.

“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Downey said moments after being informed of her prize.

Downey and Bishop will be travelling to Beaumont Hamel from June 27-July 5 with two other students from Newfoundland and Labrador.

“They’re two wonderful students and very dedicated to their task,” said art teacher David Trainor.

It will be a special trip for these students. Newfoundland has a storied connection with Beaumont Hamel.

On July 1, 1916 801 members of the Newfoundland Regiment went over the top. The next morning only 68 reported for roll call.

The rest were killed, injured or missing in action. Many were no older than Bishop (18) and Downey (17).

“You’re stepping in the same places where people who fought for freedom have stepped,” said Bishop. “In the place where they probably died, I can’t imagine that feeling.”

Bishop is daughter of Winston and Denise Bishop of Cupids. Downey is the daughter of Kathy and Ray Downey of Brigus.

The two will join Carbonear Collegiate's Cassandra Slade on the trip to Beaumont Hamel

Drawing inspiration

The two students used their exceptional artistic talents to secure their spot on the Beaumont Hamel trip.

Level III student Bishop drew inspiration for her piece from those left behind when soldiers go to war.

“I’ve always thought there are posters done on the soldiers … but I’ve yet to see one involve the wife, the war brides,” said Bishop. “I wanted to bring life to that.”

Meanwhile, Downey has always had an affinity for combat boots.

With this in mind, she started fleshing out an idea.

“That was just one idea that I had,” she said.

Working with Trainor, the rest fell into place. Downey’s piece depicts a small child with her feet in the boots.

Both students have an understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices made by their fellow Newfoundlanders, but being there and seeing it will bring it full circle.

“It’ll bring it full face,” said Bishop.