Lowestoft school stages Victorian Day with the help of former Barnardo’s orphan

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day.
Jensen the chimney swe

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day. Jensen the chimney sweep. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A Lowestoft primary school played host to a former Barnardo's orphan as part of their Victorian Day.

Alan Pilgrim,82, talks to the children from Poplars Primary School about growing up as an orphan.

Alan Pilgrim,82, talks to the children from Poplars Primary School about growing up as an orphan. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Alan Pilgrim, 82, visited Poplars Community Primary School in St Margaret's Road, on Friday.

Mr Pilgrim, of Halstead, Essex, was at Barnardo's from 1935 to 1936. He gave a presentation to pupils, aged seven to nine, about his experiences growing up as an orphan.

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day.

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Mr Pilgrim said: 'This is the first time I've done this but I've really enjoyed it.

'The concentration that the students showed was wonderful especially for their ages.

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day.

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day. - Credit: Nick Butcher


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'I had a hard upbringing but wanted to get the message across that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I hope that it was successful.'

The day was organised by Year 3 and 4 teachers Miss Mycock and Mrs Betts who found Mr Pilgrim via the British Home Children Facebook page.

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day.

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day. - Credit: Nick Butcher

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Miss Mycock, 23, said: 'We thought it would be a good way to get the children interested in the local area and history.

'They have been learning about the British Home Children sent from Lowestoft to Canada. Today has made it come alive.'

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day. (top to bottom) Pattri

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day. (top to bottom) Pattrick, Ruben and Szabi. - Credit: Nick Butcher

As part of the day children enjoyed calligraphy lessons, Victorian games and staged mock Victorian classrooms.

Jaime, aged nine, said: 'It was interesting to hear how children lived back then.

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day.

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day. - Credit: Nick Butcher

'We tried gruel, which is like porridge but more disgusting and with salt.'

Siobhan, nine, added, 'I enjoyed playing all the Victorian games like hopscotch and hula- hoops.'

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day.

Children from Poplars Primary School, Lowestoft take part in a Victorian Day. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Georgie Stowers, deputy head teacher said: 'It has been superb. All the staff have participated fully and the children have really enjoyed it.

'The day has allowed them to become more immersed in the curriculum.'.

Mrs Stowers was particularly grateful to Mr Pilgrim, and said: 'The children were deeply moved by the talk that Alan gave. They displayed so much empathy as they sat transfixed by his story which is testament to the mental health work we have been working on.'

Pupils of the school will continue their support of home children by sending presents to those in Canada. Play-scripts, puppets and picture frames that the children made will be included in the gift packages.

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