Report by Mr. Richard Outram, Secretary, The Oldham Pledge to Peace Forum
Ss Aidan and Oswald’s RC Primary School, Royton is one of the schools in Oldham with a long-standing commitment to promoting peace: personal inner peace, peace in our local community, peace across our country and global peace.
The school is a signatory to the Pledge to Peace; one of twenty-six schools and colleges in Oldham to have done so. For many years with the support of Oldham’s Pledge to Peace Forum, the school has forged strong links with Hiroshima and school communities in Japan. The children of Ss. Aidan and Oswald’s participated in a project to make paper peace cranes to send to Hiroshima in remembrance of the child victims of the bombing. A few months later, the school proudly received paper cranes made by the children of Hiroshima.
In 2017, two hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima) visited Oldham to plant very special seeds which are sourced from the mother trees which survived the blasts despite being near to its epicentre. These seeds have been nurtured in Oldham and have grown into saplings. They are being planted across Oldham with Ss. Aidan and Oswald’s being the first school to receive one. They have held a special ceremony on the 21st September (International Day of Peace) to celebrate this wonderful partnership of peace between Oldham and Hiroshima.
The special school assembly which began the Peace Day event was the first that had been held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 18 months ago. 350 children and 30 staff attended the assembly, which was addressed by The Worshipful Mayor of Oldham, Councillor Jenny Harrison, and the Secretary of The Oldham Pledge to Peace Forum, Richard Outram. The whole school community was delighted and excited to welcome the Worshipful The Mayor of Oldham and the Mayor’s Consort, Councillor Shahid Mushtaq, Cabinet Member for Education at Oldham Council. The children also sang beautifully their school peace anthem, May Peace Prevail on Earth (which is titled after the school motto) and The Community Song.
During the day, the children enjoyed a different approach to the curriculum as they explored and researched the many aspects of finding and promoting peace. This included activities such as: a peace picnic; prayers for peace; renewing their commitment to the pledge to peace at the school’s peace pole as well as a wide-range of exciting activities.
Richard Outram, the Secretary of the Oldham Pledge to Peace Forum said, “After a torrid eighteen months, when our peace activities have been on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been wonderful to be part of this very special event to celebrate the UN International Day of Peace.”
The children and staff at Ss Aidan’s and Oswald’s have again done us all proud in the cause of peace, and it was our privilege to present to them a very special gift – a tree nurtured from a seed sent to us by our dear friend, the Mayor of Hiroshima. This seed was recovered from a tree that somehow survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima; it represents a hope that there can be peace within us and amongst us if we nurture it.
(top-right) The school has created special confectionary for the Peace Day event – Peace Dove Shortbread.
(bottom) The school has a new pet. Ossie (named after St Oswald) is a peaceful turtle.