Peace Garden opened at Sibford School


Sibford head Michael Goodwin with Sandi and Tony Lewis seated on the Conrad Lewis memorial bench. Also pictured is Peg, a stray dog that made friends with Conrad in the Quadrant compound when he arrived and was rescued and flown back to the UK after his death.


Sandi and Tony Lewis cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of the Peace Garden.

Sibford School marked Armistice Day 2014 with the opening of a new Peace Garden.

Pupils at the Quaker School, near Banbury, Oxfordshire, created the garden in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1 and also as a tribute to former student, Conrad Lewis, who was killed in Afghanistan on 9 February 2011.

Returning to the school to perform the official opening were Conrad’s parents, Tony and Sandi Lewis.

A commitment to peace lies at the heart of Quaker belief. Quakers think of peace as an approach to living in the world and working for social change, rather than simply an ideological opposition to war and to violence.

And the Peace Garden, which will be a place where pupils, staff and visitors to the school will be able to go for quiet reflection, therefore seemed a fitting tribute to Conrad.

“We couldn’t be more humbled, pleased and delighted to be here today,” said Tony Lewis. “What has been produced is absolutely appropriate for the school, really appropriate for Conrad and beautiful for us. I think it is a stunning memorial to Conrad and to peace and we will certainly be back with Conrad’s brother and sister and other friends and family over the months and years to come.”

Features of the Peace Garden include:

  • Giant sculpture created by Year 10 pupils from willow withies;
  • Wooden obelisk featuring the words: REFLECT, RECONCILE, RESPECT and REMEMBER;
  • Commemorative bench dedicated to Conrad;
  • 20 rose bushes planted by Sibford horticultural students;

and … looking at peace in the widest sense of the word …

  • 500 crocus bulbs, donated by the Rotary Club of Banbury, to represent the End Polio Now Campaign

In addition, inspired by the Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red installation at the Tower of London, Junior School pupils created a number of glazed clay red and white poppies that were ‘planted’ in the garden especially for the opening.

The Armistice Day ceremony, which was attended by more than 400 people, included readings by pupils, staff and parents and, following a silence at 11am, concluded with the playing of Abide With Me by 15-year-old pupil George Johnson-Briscoe on trumpet.

Tony Lewis said: “It is a real honour to open this Peace Garden. Conrad would be surprised, humbled and absolutely delighted to be remembered in anyway at Sibford School but certainly in this way. He loved being here, although I think it would be fair to say that the teachers probably found him a little challenging and boisterous … he certainly lived up the school phrase of ‘living adventurously’!

“Sibford gave him so much, including a strong set of values which came out in later life and certainly when he joined the army and went to Afghanistan. I thoroughly believe that he was doing a job for peace out there, bringing peace to a nation that had struggled for many, many years and bringing change to the children and the people of Afghanistan. Sadly, he didn’t make it back, but this is obviously a stunning way to remember his time here.

“Sandi and I went to the Tower of London this week to see the poppies, which are inspirational. But I have to say I am absolutely in awe at what you’ve created here today. Congratulations, thank you so much. I can’t think of anything more appropriate to commemorate what Conrad achieved and the fact that he was a student here than a Peace Garden that looks so amazing.”

To see nmore photographs from the opening of the Peace Garden click here


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