Centuries Old Ascension Day Tradition Goes On, Despite COVID

Since 1883, the children of the Kings of Wessex Academy have celebrated their moving on to pastures new by climbing the tower of St. Andrew’s Church in Cheddar on Ascension Day (Thursday 13th May 2021) and singing the Ascension Hymn. The tradition (which was brought to the school by a former headmaster who had seen similar traditions at Magdalen College Oxford) has continued uninterrupted since then, with children attending a short service in the church, followed by the oldest children climbing the tower, and the youngest watching from the vicarage garden with sticky buns.

Unfortunately for the second year running, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the school has been forced to move the things online in order to keep the tradition alive and keep children and staff safe. To do this the school has shot a short ten-minute service from the church for children to watch in classes, followed by a montage of drone footage from the top of the tower in a bid to bring the experience of ascension back down to earth!

The video is available to watch via the Wessex Learning Trust’s YouTube channel, here:

Headteacher at the Kings of Wessex, Dave Wiltshire, commented:

“I’m incredibly proud that Kings has been able to keep this centuries old Ascension Day tradition alive, despite the restrictions imposed by COVID. Although we would love to have children ascending the tower at St. Andrews themselves we hope that this video, with its incredible drone footage, goes at least some of the way to recreating the experience”.

Dave Wiltshire, Headteacher at the Kings of Wessex

St. Andrew’s Church, where students would usually ascend the tower

Chief Executive of the Wessex Learning Trust, Gavin Ball added:

“As we once again begin to wave goodbye to students who have experienced some of the most challenging years of their education, I am very pleased that Kings is able to offer them the Ascension Day experience – albeit it virtually – so as they can mark their moving on in the same way thousands of Cheddar children before them have. Although the last year has been tough, to keep these traditions alive feels immensely important and something I am very proud of the staff at the Kings of Wessex for working so hard to do”.

Gavin Ball, Chief Executive of the Wessex Learning Trust

We are incredibly pleased that the tradition of Ascension Day has been able to continue here at Kings, and although we hope that we will be able to get back to normal next year, for now we’re grateful to be able to do something to mark all the incredible achievements of our children!