Major Jenine Main, North London Divisional Commander represented The Salvation Army at a Memorial Service attended by Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh last week to commemorate the centenary of the bombing of Upper North Street School in Poplar which killed 18 children.
The Salvation Army has been part of the Poplar community in East London for over 150 years and following the bombing in 1917, General Bramwell Booth, The Salvation Army World Leader, dispatched officers to the affected area on a ‘mission of mercy’ to support the recovery efforts and to comfort the bereaved.
Speaking afterwards, Major Jenine said:
"It was a really beautiful, moving service and I feel privileged to have represented The Salvation Army at this significant event.
"The church was full and included families of those who died 100 years ago as well as neighbours and children from the local schools.
"When I arrived, I was asked to wait with other church representatives and local faith leaders at the back of the church. After The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh had taken their seats, we all walked in together, behind the Chaplain to The Queen, and took our seats.
"The short service was lead by the Bishop of Stepney The Rt Rev Adrian Newman and Rev Jane Hodges, the vicar of All Saints, Poplar. There were readings, prayers, hymns and beautiful singing from the schools' choirs.
"One poignant part was when 18 children processed in carrying white origami doves on long sticks, each representing one of the young lives lost on that day in 1917. They then read out their names. It was very moving.
"After the service, along with the other local church and faith leaders, we were introduced to Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen said to me 'I expect you are all very busy at the moment', I think this was in recognition of The Army's support of the emergency services, following the fire at Grenfell Tower, which happened the day before and the recent terrorist attacks in London.
[Photo credit: Max Colson]
"When The Queen had left, those of us who were in the church and the many others gathered outside, walked the short distance to Poplar Recreation Ground. Flowers were placed at the Memorial stone and prayers said for all those who had died. There followed an afternoon for all the community which included refreshments donated by local businesses and World War One themed exhibitions.
"It was lovely to be involved in such a great community event, commemorating the anniversary of the bombing and bringing together many people from East London, just a stone's throw from where The Salvation Army began it's work in the community 152 years ago."
The Salvation Army began working in Poplar in 1867. Today, its church and community centre is based in Kerbey Street and is run by Majors David and Meshiel Brown. Programmes include community outreach and advice, a food bank, youth groups and a parent and toddler group. Staff and volunteers also run a charity shop and a café.