Newcastle schoolboy Spencer Turner has been chosen by FA President HRH The Duke of Cambridge and Theo Walcott as the winner of a competition to design a memorial to the Christmas Truce games of 1914.
The talented ten-year-old from Farne primary school entered the Football Remembers competition as part of an education resource put together by the British Council with the joint involvement of The FA, the Premier League and the Football League. Spencer’s winning design was singled out by the high-profile judges as the stand-out entry of a competition open to every school in the country.
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The youngster was given the news he had won by Newcastle United players Steven Taylor and Adam Armstrong during a special assembly in front of all of his class-mates. His design – featuring a British and German soldier shaking hands - will now be built at the National Memorial Arboretum near to St. George’s Park in Staffordshire. An exhibition of the 33 shortlisted entries including Spencer’s is on display for visitors to the national football centre to enjoy.
Arsenal and England star Walcott said: "I was truly honoured to be part of the Christmas Truce Memorial schools competition with HRH The Duke of Cambridge. The standard of entry was incredibly high and I enjoyed looking at the designs and even seeing one from my old school too! Huge congratulations to Spencer whose design was very impressive and brings to life this moment of peace through football in wartime."
The Christmas Truce matches are seen as one of the most iconic moments of the First World War and all of football will mark a week of remembrance activity from 6 December this year. The aim of the collaboration between the game’s governing body and the two professional leagues is to engage football fans about what took place on Christmas Day 1914 in Flanders, Belgium.
It will all kick off from the weekend of 6-7 December. For the matches that take place in the Premier League, the Championship and The FA Cup Second Round, all 22 players who start the games will pose together in a group photograph as a mark of respect to those that played in the 1914 Christmas Truce match. The pictures will be uploaded to a special website.
Fans, teams and schools will also be asked to upload their pre-match pictures to the same site via social media over the course of Football Remembers Week. Any match of any size can be uploaded, from school to Sunday league fixtures, five-a-side matches to kick-abouts in the back garden.
The site shall act as a moment of record of football in 2014, a century on from the First World War, and will be preserved for future generations. Meanwhile, the Premier League will hold a special edition of its annual Christmas Truce international tournament in Ypres, which it has staged for U12 footballers every year since 2011. The games will be played on a new 3G pitch gifted to the city of Ypres.
Another initiative will see young people invited to create posters telling the stories of footballers who fought in the First World War and send them to the National Football Museum in Manchester. Click here to find out more.
Also, England footballers will also be supporting the Football Remembers project during their international get-togethers next month for the men’s fixtures with Slovenia and Scotland, and the women’s historic Wembley match against Germany on 23 November.
Finally, The FA and the Army FA are working on joint commemorations involving their counterparts in Europe, while UEFA – European football’s governing body – is also planning its own activity.
Football Remembers kicked off in May 2014 when the four football partners launched a Football Remembers education pack that was sent to more than 30,000 schools across the UK. It includes resources to help children learn about the Truce – including eye-witness accounts, photos, drawings and letters from soldiers some of which have never been published before.
Prior to that, in March, FA Chairman Greg Dyke also joined colleagues from the Premier League and Football League – as well as other notable names from across the game – on a special trip to northern France to visit the battlefields and memorials.