NSI Centenary Finale Tea Party at Buckingham Palace

Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, President of Never Such Innocence, addresses winners and guests

Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, President of Never Such Innocence, addresses winners and guests

Never Such Innocence was founded in 2014 as a small project aiming to work with a few schools in England to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.At this stage not many would have guessed that 11,000 children from more than 40 different countries across five continents would participate by submitting poetry, art, and songs to an annual competition. 

It certainly would not have seemed likely that the Finale in 2018 would take place at Buckingham Palace. 

Read about the special day below...

Lady Lucy French OBE. Founder and Chief Executive of Never Such Innocence, addresses the winners and guests

Lady Lucy French OBE. Founder and Chief Executive of Never Such Innocence, addresses the winners and guests

On Wednesday 7th November, all of the First, Second, and Third Place winners of the Never Such Innocence competition from 2014-2018 were invited to a Tea Party at Buckingham Palace.

We would like to extend heartfelt thanks to our President, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.

Winners from around the world – from Canada, Malaysia, and New Zealand to name a few – travelled all the way to London to be recognised for their achievement. We were absolutely delighted to provide young people from across the globe with an experience to remember.

Buckingham Palace is recognised around the world as the focus of national and royal celebrations as well as the backdrop to the regular Changing the Guard ceremony.

We were honoured to have a message from the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, which was read out to the winners. The Prime Minister said: “I am honoured to send my congratulations to all of the winners of the Never Such Innocence Competition at the Centenary Finale. … You have created an important legacy to share at your schools and within your community, to help ensure that the lessons of the war are never forgotten.”

The event featured poetry, art, and songs presented by winners from 2014 to 2018. We are delighted to share here some of the work that was showcased on the day. Click on the images to view the poems, artwork, and songs:

We were delighted to be joined by representatives of the Australian, Canadian, Indian and New Zealand High Commissions, and the French, German, Greek, and Irish Embassies.

We were also thrilled to be joined by several VIPs including The Lord Ashton of Hyde, Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Imam Asim Hafiz, Captain Stephen Higham RN, Dr Andrew Murrison MP, Sir Ken Olisa, Rear Admiral Malcolm Toy, and Air Marshal Mike Wigston.

“Thank you for the amazing Centenary Finale at Buckingham Palace, it was a fantastic day and it was a truly amazing experience reading out my poem in front of everyone.”
- Jasleen Singh, Poetry Winner

We are incredibly grateful to the following bands for providing the wonderful accompaniment to the special day:

• The South West London Army Cadets
• The RAF Salon Orchestra
• The Band of the Coldstream Guards
• The Royal Marines Drum Corps

Before leaving the event every guest was given a copy of the two Centenary Legacy Books. The Never Such Innocence Anthology is a collection of all the winning poems, artwork, and songs, and Stories of the First World War is based on the educational materials that inspired many of these entries. Anyone who has entered the competition is entitled to a free copy of both books, which you can sign up for here, and they can also be purchased on Amazon - click here for the Anthology, and here for Stories of the First World War.

We would like to thank everyone who made our Centenary Finale such a success - in particular Sir John Spurling, Mr Alan Rind, and Mr Evangelos Marinakis, whose kind contributions made the event possible, and enabled many winners to travel from far and wide to attend special events.

We both had a truly wonderful day at Buckingham Palace... We are still pinching ourselves that we were actually there!
- Liz Longley, parent


All images above are © The Other Richard.