Play recalls ‘pacifist’ school’s class of 1913

Mac Livock and Alistar Boucher
Mac Livock and Alistar Boucher
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A SCHOOL play followed the real-life fortunes of a Yorkshire Quaker school’s 1913 leavers.

The performance at Ackworth School was prompted by a 1913 leaving photograph of 11 scholars.

Written by head of drama Richard Vergette, ‘Who We Are’ explored the decisions faced by students.

Mr Vergette said: “The play follows the fortunes of a number of students from the photograph of Ackworth School leavers in 1913. What we have tried to achieve is a sense of the diversity of choices which the students made.

“Philip Radley was an absolutist pacifist. Not only did he refuse to fight, he also refused to contribute to any kind of war work which would release a man to go and fight.

“Edward Dell Brown and John Stanley Coy decided to fight and both lost their lives as a consequence. Edward Brady joined the Friends Ambulance Unit and ended up as the chief of one of the units.

“A number of the girls also volunteered and worked in the hospitals in France.

“The angle of the play is really to show that Ackworth School students acted on their consciences and did what they believed was right.

“A number of old scholars looked to Frederick Andrews, the headmaster at the time, to give a lead on whether people should fight or not. He refused to do so, observing that he wanted his former scholars to do whatever they believed to be right. Ackworth – he hoped – had instilled in its students a sense of social responsibility and individuality. It was, therefore, not for him to tell former students what to do.”

Around 200 people watched the play and listened to a talk about former scholars by author and historian Cyril Pearce.