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Pupils mark 200 years of church schools

Date: 24 November 2011

32 youngsters joined a national celebration at Westminster Abbey where the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, paid tribute to the members of the Church of England who established the National Society and church schools two centuries ago.

Pupils from St Lawrence Primary, Chobham, All Saints' Primary, Shawfield, Ash and All Saints' Junior, Fleet, represented Guildford Diocese and prayers were read by St Lawrence pupil Rachel Connolly and All Saints, Fleet, pupil Ben Knights. A procession of diocesan banners marked the beginning and end of the service. The Guildford banner, which is now on proud display at the diocesan Education Centre, was designed and made by staff, pupils and governors at St Giles Infant School, Ashtead and carried by Shawfield pupil Jake Levy.

Possibly more exciting for the pupils was the guided tour of the Abbey after the service and the chance to stand on the very spot where Kate Middleton married Prince William earlier this year!

Pupils also played a central role in a special Bicentenary Songs of Praise held at St Paul's Church, Addlestone, in November.

With Songs of Praise notching up 50 years and the National Society 200 years, it seemed the perfect opportunity to celebrate the birth of free education for all with the special service.

Talks were given by church school head teachers, a church school teacher, a pupil and a youth and children's pastor during the service which featured, among others, the hymns and songs 'Now thank we all our God', 'Great is thy faithfulness', 'In Christ alone', 'Shine Jesus Shine' and 'Lord for the Years'.

A collection was held in aid of a church school in Kebbi Diocese, Nigeria.

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