Frank MacDonald prize students begin pilgrimage to Belgium and France

Tribute: Frank McDonald Prize winners Molly Woolcock, Jordan Moss, and Nicole Patrick are leaving for Europe on Monday. Picture: Paul Scambler
Tribute: Frank McDonald Prize winners Molly Woolcock, Jordan Moss, and Nicole Patrick are leaving for Europe on Monday. Picture: Paul Scambler

Three Northern Tasmanian students are embarking on a ten-day trip to Belgium and France, searching for connections to Tasmanian World War I soldiers.

Molly Woolcock, Jordan Moss, and Nicole Patrick, all grade 9 students from St Patrick’s College and Launceston Church Grammar, each won the state-wide Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize for their essays on the impact of war.

Now they are preparing to tour some of the very places they researched and wrote about, with a particular link to certain soldiers.

All three students researched particular soldiers, tracing their steps through World War I and beyond.

Jordan Moss said each student was researching a soldier with a special connection or family link, or of interest.

“We’ve constructed a pilgrimage to do and we go to our soldiers’ graves,” he said.

“Mine was Sergeant David Henry Allen from Beaconsfield, he was a Beaconsfield miner. He went over at a young age and survived Gallipoli but unfortunately he died in the Villers-Bretonneux battle.

“His grave is right next to his mate’s … my pilgrimage is mostly about talking about the idea of mateship.”

Nicole Patrick’s research had a particular link to Grammar, as she followed the history of Major Alexander Evans, a former Grammar student.

She said Major Evans went to Gallipolli and the Western Front, before returning home and eventually becoming mayor of Launceston.

“He saved many men from a shell blast in Gallipoli,” she said.

Molly Woolcock will trace the steps of a family connection who was killed in action at Gallipoli.

“I’ve been researching Athelstan William Shoobridge, and he’s not related to me but he’s a family connection,” she said.

“I’ve been writing my pilgrimage about how when I was researching him, it was really hard to find an emotional connection to him, so I’ve tried to fill in the pieces with that.”

The three students begin their pilgrimage on Monday and return on April 29.