Holloway pupils enjoy Christmas trip of a lifetime

CHRISTMAS came early for three budding Wordsworths when they enjoyed a festive trip to Norway as part of a London-wide poetry project.

Lucien Rance, Rhys Rumsey and Chloe Collier - from Grafton Primary School, in Eburne Road, Holloway - spent two days in the Scandinavian snow after they were chosen to represent Britain by The Poetry Society.

The highlight of the visit was attending the ceremonial felling of the Christmas tree that each year is given as a gift from Norway, to stand in London’s Trafalgar Square. Once the tree is in place, lines from over 400 poems written by pupils at the 15 London schools that took part in the project, will be rearranged by poet John Agard and displayed around the tree.

Lucien said: “It was so exciting to see the tree sparkle with snow in the Oslo forest and we can’t wait to see it lit up in Trafalgar Square.”

The first Norwegian spruce tree was given to Britain in 1947 as a token of friendship and appreciation for the refuge that was offered to the Norwegian Government and royal family during the Second World War, when they were able to rule in exile from London after fleeing their homeland.

The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Judith Warner, the British Ambassador to Norway, Jane Owen, and the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang, joined the Grafton delegation at this year’s ceremony.

Anna Sutton, deputy head at Grafton School, who accompanied the pupils on the trip, said: “The tree is a beautiful gift and a symbolic gesture of lasting friendship between the two countries. We felt truly honoured to be present at the tree felling - it was simply magical.”

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A guided tour of Oslo was also arranged by the Norwegian embassy, and the Grafton pupils visited a village school to collaborate with local children and poet Cheryl Moskowitz on creating their own poem to mark the occasion.

The project began back in England with poet Lyndsey MacRae working with children at Grafton on the themes of friendship and peace.

Councillor Richard Watts, Islington Council’s executive member for children and young people, said: “What a fantastic opportunity for these pupils. The poets who visited Grafton were impressed by the enthusiasm and attitude of the children and their interest in writing poetry. I’m sure this is a trip that they’ll remember for many years to come and I’m proud that it was children from Islington who were invited to take part in it.”

Carol singers will gather in Trafalgar Square on Thursday 2 December to see the tree erected and lit