Lucy Hester goes behind the scenes at RAF Leeming Primary School where many of the children have a parent away at war. Plus, the story of black footballer Arthur Wharton.
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Good evening and welcome to Inside Out. Tonight, here is what is on
the show. We follow the highs and lows of Life at the primary school
where many of the children have parents serving overseas. Hello,
Daddy. I have been having fun at school. Dear Daddy, how why you? I
am fine. And the story of Britain's first black professional footballer.
We trace his journey from Ghana to Yorkshire. He was the pioneer. We
all start somewhere and we start with Arthur.
This is especially primary school thought -- primary school. A third
of the children have parents serving overseas. Many are in
Afghanistan. Inside Out has been given exclusive access following
the children and families are to the highs and lows of school term.
This is RAF Leeming - the biggest royal air force base in the north.
1800 servicemen and women, and their families, live and work here.
It's home to the RAF Regiment, 90 signals unit, and the hawk jet.
It's also home to RAF Leeming Community Primary - the school
On the face of it, this school is just like any other state primary -
funded by the LEA, and run accordingly. But here's the
difference - 98% of children here are from forces families with one
or both parents serving in the military. The evidence is
everywhere. Outside each classroom, a list of names - children with
parents serving overseas. The majority are in Afghanistan. This
is one of the year three classes. There are quite a large number way.
Some of the parents are in active theatres of war. Certainly. Their
art focused in Afghanistan, that's the most common. -- There are
people. Jess is four, and has just started
reception class. I was worried if she'd fit into mainstream. Because
her speech is quite delayed, she can't tell us where she's at. But I
was completely wrong, She's blossoming. Jess' dad is going to
Afghanistan in a few weeks' time. He'll be gone for four and a half
months. Where is daddy's nose? What does the nose do? I think she
senses something. I'm not sure she knows or understands I'm going away
for a period of time. But she's certainly sensing more and acting
differently to last when I went The proof is once I have gone, will
she acted differently? Will she know I'm not here, will she come
looking for me, come round to the side of the bed? She's good at
signing for me. 9-year-old Leona's dad went to the
Falklands in summer. He's there as part of the permanent UK military
presence to defend the Islands. He might be home for Christmas. Miss
everything really. I was upset but I kept it to myself, and that just
made me more sad. There are other children in Leona's class with dads
away. On the cupboard it says home- and-away. I look up to remind
myself when I am doing my work. I usually come home and say, dad I've
been doing this and I've been doing that and so I think if I just say
it in my head, he'll hear it. My husband is a padre and he went
to Afghanistan last year. It's being aware of children's emotions,
reading them and reaching out a hand to them and saying, its awful.
You have to walk that walk with them. If someone's having a wobble,
you can rely on others to rally round and look after them. They
really are a caring bunch, they look after each other incredibly
well, and that's an amazing Many of the youngsters go through
intense emotional periods. The school has put in place and network
of support to help the children who are affected. This is the IT suite.
This is the lunchtime Ebluey club - where children are encouraged to
email parents deployed abroad. It's a 21st century version of the old
serviceman's Bluey letter. Hello, Daddy. I have been having fun at
school. On Friday we are going to a pantomime in Richmond. I am looking
forward to it. Lots of love. It is fine writing. He sends you letters
back. I already have two. One has a picture of a terrapin. Do you know
when he comes back? March 8th. Yes. I am a bit sad. There is a help to
write e-mails? You can tell him things you have been doing. Yes.
Dear Daddy, how you? I had been riding horses.
Morgan's dad is with the RAF regiment and he's in Afghanistan
for 7 months. Does daddy like your e-mails? Yes. He said they were
lovely. Can he singe your e-mails back? No, because the internet is
rubbish. -- can he send you e- mails? There is no post. He is in
the desert. Kiss, kiss, Haag, hug. The children tend not to understand
why, my son is only three. Morgan comes to school and understands
where he has gone. She has no idea where that is but a school help her
understand. They are bizarre reaction from many children when
the parent goes way it is yes, we can go to the club. Not all parents
have enjoyed that. All I can think about his great but it is more than
that. It is about getting the recognition so there are plenty of
older children around. It's an opportunity to clock in and see how
you are doing. Servicemen and women are being deployed now more than
ever - not just to Afghanistan but to other places of active service
around the world. So in the course of their career with the air force,
they could leave their homes and families several times. It will
only function correctly if it is assembled correctly.
This is the latest Osprey body armour that 90 signals unit will
take with them to Afghanistan. your blood group on there.
For Jess's dad Craig, it will be his 4th tour in 10 years.
casualty extraction... I'll be going out to Kandahar.
We're well trained and well prepared and that helps with the
mindset. We're going to do a good job, make a difference, and return
in April knowing we've done a good A number of things jess will be
doing for the first time. First carol concert. You won't be here.
No, but will be heart. But there isn't the time of year you can go
way and not miss something for the first time. This time round it will
be the first Christmas play and probably start in, knowing how she
is. I just have to look at the video and think fondly and do it
that way. That is the life we have chosen to live. I have to make sure
I'm there for the next one. Military life means moving around a
lot. Personnel get posted every few years, so the population here is
constantly changing this. The average time a child spends he is
one year and seven months. Research suggests regular moves mean some
children can start to disengage when they know they're leaving -
from friendships, from learning, and behaviour can slip. But there
are also positives. There are children here who've lived all over
the world, and they bring those experiences into the classroom. And
service children can be very good at making new friends, and
welcoming new people. Often the leaving is the hardest part, so we
put a lot of energy into that. Get them ready, think through their
successes at school, round up friendships and hit the ground
Craig is about to leave for Kandahar. Within hours, the advance
party for his squadron will be in Afghanistan. A lot of us have done
this before. It is in a mine set. We are raring to go. The sooner we
are out there, the sooner we are back. Craig will be leaving his
family for 4 and a half months. You've got to be strong. If you're
not strong, they can't do their job. It puts them in the wrong mindset.
So you have to be strong. You can He is doing good, protecting people.
You have to think positive. You cannot listen to this rubbish about
they should not be out there doing this or that. That just degrades
them. They'd put their lives on the line for everybody.
The next morning Jess's name is added to the classroom list. And a
few days later there are many more children with parents gone to
Afghanistan. We have had a massive increase. We
normally have around 10% but recently it is over a quarter were
the parent away. That is right across the school. We have probably
got the lot highest number weight over Christmas which has an impact
on the families. It is December and the build-up to Christmas has begun.
The children are busy practising for their carol concert for parents
in a week's time. The children are as high as kites.
They are looking forward to their performance. We will be bouncing
around the classroom! Some of the children have already
had their Christmas, in a poll for or November, before their families
were deployed. Some children are feeling a little bit sad about that.
It is OK for them to feel sad and it is normal to beat sad about
somebody away. Would give them the opportunity to talk that through.
Morgan's family is finding the run- up to Christmas tough, like many
others. I got a letter from the Santa yesterday. I was singing
Christmas carols. This is the first big one that he
has been away from us. I know that he finds it difficult as well. We
are a very close family. It is going to be hard. You just
have to get on with it. You cannot While some dads are going away,
Leona and her sister Kiah are expecting their dad to return from
the Falklands this week. They're making a banner to welcome him home.
The girls show me the wall that they have dedicated to their dead.
It is the first thing you see when you come in to the house. -- their
dad. He has gone all the way from the UK, he stopped there for one
night in the Ascension Islands and then went to the Falklands. They
dad has been away for four months. Are you looking forward to seeing
him? I will just jump on him and give him a big cuddle.
Afghanistan. Craig has been here now for five weeks. The squadron
are providing and maintaining the communications for forces across
the country. Things are very different from home.
This is the standard accommodation that all personnel get in Kandahar.
It is a standard set up within a room. I have these personal touches
from my little girl. It is a bit of a moment from home which is nice.
It is a busy life and the men relish the distraction of a meal.
Craig sometimes gets the chance to catch up with news from home.
are working seven days a week constantly. The days pass by
quickly. It is a very different life out here. The day does not
finish until late in the evening. So you get back and go to bed and
get a good seven last of sleep if we can. Them rare back doing the
same thing the following day. behind the wire the squadron has
entered an increasingly tense affairs down with a string of
insider attacks on troops. The most recent last week in Helmand by a
member of the Afghan security forces. Amid all the Christmas
build up at the school, it is business as usual.
Families are doing the same thing and I think it is easier in some
ways for those children to see it as normal. Even though it is not
normal for the rest of society. Paula and chess are getting ready
for Christmas without Craig. comes in in the morning and looks
to his side of the bed. She sleeps in my bed a lot. She just needs
that extra bit of comfort. It is just her way of missing him.
Come and speak to Daddy on the computer. Are you beautiful? Yes.
When the internet allows they can speak directly to Craig.
I have not felt like Christmas. You tried so hard not to think about
what might happen out there. But you cannot help it.
It is almost Christmas and time for the Nativity play.
Many parents cannot be here to watch their children today because
they are serving overseas. Jess is playing a snowflake. I will be
sorry to leave this place and this school. That will happen, we will
move on. And I do not think we will have the same understanding.
Our school gets on with doing what it has to do as a school. A lot of
other schools out there are doing a fantastic job with service families
as well. It is a very rewarding place to be.
It is the end of another term. Leona was my dad made it home for
Christmas. Paula and jazz did get By rights Arthur Wharton should be
a household name. He was a world- beating sprinter and the first
black professional footballer in Britain. But it is only now that
this true pioneer is getting the recognition he deserves.
It begins in a little fishing port in West Africa in 1865. A boy is
born. He became arguably the greatest sportsmen the North of
England has ever seen. But you may not have heard of Arthur Wharton. I
feel so proud of his achievements and delighted that at last, his
story is able to be told. He was the pioneer! He has a place in
history, we all start somewhere and we start with Arthur Wharton.
This is what began the whole story, finding this in the box. I found it
in this old box that belonged to my mother. It's a photo of Arthur
Wharton, who she believed to be a distant relative. She didn't know
it, but he had a remarkable story. Arthur Wharton was born in
Jamestown, in the Gold Coast, now Ghana. His Scottish father was a
Methodist preacher, his Ghanaian mother a tribal princess. Arthur
left for Britain to train as a preacher himself. But his talents
lay elsewhere. In the North East of England. He played football for
Darlington, played bit of cricket here as well. He was a first class
cricketer. But an even better goalkeeper. He was a showman! He'd
swing on the crossbar and catch the ball between his knees. He played
for Newcastle, he made an appearance for Middlesbrough,
Sheffield. Rotherham, Stalybridge. But that's just the tip of the
iceberg. He was the world's first 100 yard record holder, British
Cycling champion, professional cricketer, and played both codes of
rugby. It would be like Usain Bolt turning out for Manchester United.
So why has nobody heard of him? He had a scandalous family secret
hidden in this box. Also in the box was Arthur's sisters Wilhelmina and
Clara. This is my mother. This is Arthur's father, Reverend Henry
Wharton. Arthur Wharton was actually Sheila's grandfather.
the box of photographs was the Bible. I found these versus
underlined. He is trying to tell me that he committed adultery. He has
been with my grandmother and she had three children. It made Sheila
realised why the grand mother was banished from the family. After was
actually the grandfather she never knew.
She let is heading to Guiana. The last chance she will get to trace
her family roots. It feels fantastic. I never thought
I would be here. It says the Reverend Henry Wharton.
This is where Arthur's father preached. I think in his later life,
Arthur forgot about his religion. Because of his illicit love affair,
Augher lost his family and then his celebrity status. He ended up as a
miner near Doncaster, living in poverty. He had gone from being
somebody well known and celebrated in the country, to practically
being and nobody. And he was buried in an unknown grave. An undignified
end for a champion whose life had started so promisingly. Sean
Campbell's mission is to get recognition for Arthur Wharton,
first through the statue. I just wondered how many monuments to
other black British achievers were out there. And there to be honest
it took me months to find one. will unveil eventually a 17 ft high
statue. Until then, these small bronze replicas have been bought by
some of the most powerful organisations in football. We have
one in Wembley Stadium, in Zurich, and then when we go back to England,
at UEFA. The timing of the campaign could not be better.
War is being waged against racism in football. And someone like
Arthur Wharton can be the Ardcarne and the symbol for overcoming
racism. Though Arthur was loved by many across the North, he had to
fight his own battle. When they reported on matches, they would say
he had Monkey type features. Being a black player at that time is just
mind-boggling. I never knew anything about him until six or
seven years ago. Now you speak to Andy Cole, Rio Ferdinand, they all
know about him. So we're doing our bit to get his name out there.
They don't exactly that out in Guiana as well. In the place where
he was born, a football tournament is being held in his honour. Arthur
Wharton has finally come home. And in a sense so has his granddaughter.
Sheila has got one last surprise. A local journalist has tracked down
not just one or two relatives but an entire family that she love
never knew she had. Here is your family. My work is done.
I realised as the child, I always said to my mother, have I got a
grandfather? And she never answered me. I am very proud to be a member
of your family. It is very emotional to be here with you.
Thank you. We're very happy. This is the first time I heard of any
white people tracing their black ancestors. She has come home to
look for us. Football is known as the beautiful game and look at what
is happening here today, we're all United, people from all over the
world coming together because of one man and his journey.
It is the culmination of my life. It is the greatest day of my life.
I think my mother would say, I'm sorry I did not turn you but I'm
pleased that you have found them. She would be saying, well done.
That is all fortnight. If you have missed anything you can catch it on
Lucy Hester goes behind the scenes at RAF Leeming Primary School in North Yorkshire, where many of the children have a parent away at war.
Plus, there is a look at the story of Arthur Wharton, the first black professional footballer.