MANY readers will have watched the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on TV last Saturday.
The service had particular resonance this year for G15 – the partnership of Gloucester schools and Gloucestershire College – who spearheaded the campaign which raised £73,000 for the Royal British Legion in 2011.
In recognition of this achievement, the Royal British Legion invited Cara Valente from the High School for Girls in Gloucester to take part in the event.
Cara was asked to lead a procession of Poppy Appeal organisers down the steps of the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of the Queen, members of the Royal Family and senior politicians.
Ewa Sawicka, Cara's headteacher, and G15 student co-ordinator Maeve Maxwell were there to see Cara at the service.
"The service is always phenomenally emotional and includes stirring music, military parades and very poignant video clips of service men and women, and their families, whose lives have been dramatically altered by war," said Maeve.
"It is those stories which caught the hearts and minds of G15 students and brought about our involvement in the campaign."
As Cara entered the auditorium, BBC presenter Huw Edwards announced the fundraising achievement.
"As the G15 student chairman at the time of our campaign, Cara was such a splendid figurehead and on her shoulders, on Saturday night, rested all of the fundraising efforts of students who had baked cakes, held table top sales, walked, sold wristbands, drummed, held non-uniform days, wore red for Remembrance and took retiring collections," said Maeve.
Cara said: "As I was standing in the auditorium, I was so proud to be representing the work that we, in Gloucestershire, carried out, and I was so pleased to know that our work had been acknowledged by so many.
"I felt so honoured to be invited to take part in such a prestigious event, and many of the people there had some remarkable stories to tell. I was fortunate to meet the brave men of the RAF Bomber Command, some of whom had been shot down, taken prisoner and managed to escape back to the UK to share their stories."