‘An incredible honour’ – Year 12’s Saoirse O’Neill reads moving D-Day poem on BBC North West Tonight

Saoirse O’Neill from our Sixth Form delivered a moving rendition of the war poem ‘Little Ships’ at Blackburn’s D-Day memorial service

Saoirse described the moment she read a war poem at a memorial service to mark 75 years since D-Day as an ‘incredible honour’.

Saoirse was on her Year 12 work experience with Blackburn with Darwen Council when she was asked to read at the service on Thursday 6th June, which was held to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

Mayor of the Borough Councillor Jim Shorrock chose the war poem ‘Little Ships’, which is author unknown, for Saoirse to read at the service outside Blackburn Town Hall.

Saoirse, who was placed with the council’s social integration team for her work experience, said: “It was a massive, incredible honour on such a significant day for many people, I felt a lot of pressure to do a good job.”

The reading was filmed by BBC North West Tonight and used to launch their dedicated programme later that day.

“You can see in the BBC report that people have tears in their eyes, I’m amazed I was able to keep it together,” said Saoirse. “When I finished the poem, a number of veterans came up and thanked me for doing it – this made it so worthwhile.

“They were all so lovely on what is a very emotional day for them – it’s an incredibly sad day because they’re remembering friends they lost who couldn’t be there, they were the lucky ones who came home.”

It wasn’t just the veterans who came forward to thank Saoirse for her fitting rendition – once the report aired on BBC North West, a number of families got in touch with her online.

“I’ve received a few messages on Facebook from people whose families were affected by the Second World War and especially D-Day – they thanked me for the reading and that makes me quite emotional.”

Jonathan Oracz, Head of Sixth Form, said: “Saoirse articulated herself wonderfully in her poetry recital, which was the culmination of an excellent week of work experience at Blackburn with Darwen Council. She embodied the virtues and character we instil here at Westholme Sixth Form and we are all very proud of her.”

Working at the council was recommended to Saoirse after her work creating the Blackburn young people’s peace charter three years ago, a project which she’s still heavily involved in.

Students from schools across the borough formed a working party to create a charter which covers equality, diversity, safety and support for young people.

Please click here to watch the video

Well done Saoirse!