Mhairi’s missions accomplished

Mhairi Sharkey, to the left behind Dame Helen Mirren, and, inset with Alfie Boe, performed with the NYCoS
Mhairi Sharkey, to the left behind Dame Helen Mirren, and, inset with Alfie Boe, performed with the NYCoS

A teenager experienced a life changing journey of pure emotion when she performed with her choir at the 100th anniversary of Passchendaele.

Mhairi Sharkey (19) travelled over to Belgium last week with the National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS) to take part in the special remembrance ceremony in Ypres Market Square for those 325,000 Allied troops who died in the battle at Passchendaele between July 31 and November 6, 1917.

Mhairi said: “We were over in Belgium for the week and when we found out we were performing at the remembrance on Sunday we were really excited. It was a great opportunity for us all and it was an amazing experience.

“Even when we were rehearsing before the event the streets were packed with people to see us.”

Not only did the former Larbert High School pupil perform in front of thousands of people and appear live on BBC television, she also got to meet stars like singer Alfie Boe and actress Dame Helen Mirren, Prime Minister Theresa May and British and Belgium royalty.

And that was only half the story because Mhairi had a mission of her own.

She said: “My mum had a book from Falkirk Trinity Church which had names of three young men from the area who died at Passchendaele.”

Mhairi took those names – William Nicoll (20), from Camelon, and Samuel Pollock (28) and William Cheape (21), both from Falkirk – and found them on the memorial wall. “It was a very emotional week. When you saw all the graves and then you saw the ones with no names, just saying it was the grave of a soldier of the Great War. These were people my age who had gone out to fight for their country.

“I knew I couldn’t leave here without finding the names of the people from Falkirk. Someone brought little poppies we could lay near the names.”

Mhairi has been a member of NYCoS since she was six-years-old and has sung her way up through the ranks to reach the pinnacle of her performing career with the choir in Belgium.

Now studying music at Edinburgh College, Mhairi wants to pursue a career either teaching or performing music.

Thanks to NYCoS she will have something special to put on her CV and a memory that will stay with her forever.