TWO students from Dene Magna have collected sacred soil from the battlefields of Flanders to bring back to the UK.

Emily Woodman and Ella Boyce, both aged 15, were among a group of 62 students from across the country that travelled to Belgium to take part in a special 'Last Post Ceremony' on November 11.

The memorial ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres was part of a project to commemorate the outbreak of World War One. They were also in the presence of HRH Duke of Edinburgh as well as other dignitaries and members of the Belgian Royal family.

The soil was collected from all of the war cemeteries in Belgium and will be used to create two memorial gardens in Belgium and London, as part of the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden project.

The students had an active role in the ceremony, taking a soil-filled sandbag and loading it onto a gun carriage with a Belgian soldier and another Belgian student.

History teacher, Lynne Adams said: "I asked my GCSE group to write me a letter of application explaining why they wanted to be involved in the commemoration. Essentially, Ella and Emily wrote the best applications and they have been working hard already this year, they have really impressed me with their work ethic. Ella's application in particular stood out as she included some research that she had done about her family and the role her ancestors had played in the war."

The girls stayed with students from Spermalie School in Bruges – a hotel school that has been partnered with Dene Magna in other projects – and had the opportunity to explore Bruges and sample the Belgian culture.

They said: "It is an incredible honour to be included in this event; to represent the school, and to remember those who sacrificed their lives so that we could be free. We had to apply for our places on the visit by writing to our teacher and explaining why we would like to be involved. It is a trip that we won't forget and can't wait for our next visit to Belgium."

The soil gathered at the ceremony will be transported to London by the Belgian Navy at the end of November and is intended to fill the memorial garden in London which will be opened next year.