Young poet’s moving First World War poem wins national recognition

Rosanna Billington and  Headmistress Jo MacKenzie.
Rosanna Billington and Headmistress Jo MacKenzie.

A Year 9 pupil at Bedford Girls’ School has received national recognition for writing a moving poem to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Rosanna Billington wrote the poem, Why Do The Poppies Fall? last November, to be read at a local memorial service.

Since then, she has been asked to read at a host of other memorial events across the county, including the British Legion Variety show in Flitwick and the Royal British Legion County Carol Service.

In May she read it at the Lord-Lieutenant’s Annual Service of Thanksgiving, in Woburn, in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford and other leading dignitaries.

A copy of the poem has been sent to the Queen and Rosanna continues to be asked to read at church services throughout Bedfordshire.

This summer, she will also perform at the town’s annual River Festival and in a service at St Andrew’s Church on the eve of the anniversary of the commencement of the First World War.

Headmistress, Jo Mackenzie, says “We are extremely proud of Rosanna and the recognition that her beautiful poem has received. During the next four years, Bedford Girls’ School is running a wider programme of activity to commemorate the First World War. We are encouraging our pupils to reflect on the impact that the First World War had on their families, our school and the wider community, and to express their views in a number of different ways.”

Why Do The Poppies Fall

Why do the poppies fall?

In the Royal Albert Hall,

Tumbling down to a carpet of red

Covering everywhere you tread.

Many years have passed

Men and boys left our shores.

They went to fight and save

All of them so young and brave.

No easy Euro-star trip!

Laden down with bags and kit.

Distant land, families missed

Still thinking of the loved ones they kissed.

No holiday fun, only mud and trenches,

The gas, the rats, the stenches.

Bullets flying, bayonets fixed;

Blood, sweat and tears mixed.

Living in underground tunnels - trying to keep spirits high,

Not knowing if it is day or nigh.

The command comes to leave and fight

They rise to find the enemy in sight.

Coats and weapons weigh them down,

In the thick dark mud so many drown.

Bodies buried where they fell,

Oh the bad news they will have to tell!

White head stones in smart rows

Where some of them are no-body knows.

The grave yards are tended with love and care,

Visitors - so many - can only stand and stare.

Some have no final resting place

Families will always remember that face.

Bright and clean - a name etched on a wall

That is why the poppies fall.

By Rosanna Billington - 13

Bedford Girls’ School