Westminster City School Jack Pouchot Building – Official Opening by HRH The Duke of Kent
10 May, 2018
Westminster City School’s Jack Pouchot building stands in the centre of the £1billion transformation of the Victoria area.
With its simple modern lines and sympathetic external finishes – the new landmark building reconnects the historic school with its contemporary commercial neighbours. Westminster schools are some of the most successful schools in London and a popular choice for parents.
Westminster City School is oversubscribed and the new building will provide additional capacity allowing us to create additional places in September 2019.
The new Jack Pouchot building will feature a range of multi-purpose teaching spaces which will help the school provide increased capacity for its inclusive and diverse pupils from across Westminster and greater London as demand for school places across London continues to grow.
The brand new state of the art building improves the art and drama spaces for boys to foster their creativity.
The new building will also provide additional multi-function teaching spaces and offices for the United Westminster Schools Foundation who manage five high-performing schools including Westminster City School. Jack Pouchot’s story is one of gallantry, bravery and ultimately tragedy.
The decision to name the new building after Jack, a former pupil of the school, was influenced by research carried out by former Headmaster and Cadet Officer Mr James Wilson.
The fact that the building has been in development since 2014 and completed in 2018 is not lost on a school community who lost so many young men during the first World War.
Luckily today, we live in a world where 15 year old boys are no longer sent to war or put in a position to be awarded Distinguished Conduct Medals for bravery.
Jack Pouchot was and will forever remain the youngest recipient of the DCM.
More about Jacks story can be found at the end with a transcript of the speech given by Najib Salam, a student at the Westminster City School and member of the school’s cadet force.
The development has involved Westminster City School and its pupils working closely with leading architects and property developers responsible for the recent improvements to the Victoria area.
Pupils have benefitted from a range of extra-curricular learning experiences with Patrick Lynch Architects, Land Securities, 3BM and Westminster City Council.
Headmaster Peter Broughton said: “The Jack Pouchot building will help our school continue to offer some of the best learning facilities in London. Our pupils enjoy coming to school and these new facilities will be a great addition.”
Westminster City School is a small boys school and proud of its diverse and inclusive community.
The pupils have been actively involved in the design process with the student council discussing ideas and suggestions.
Student Councilor, Dean Sukcharoen said: “We discussed ideas with the architect and project manager and suggested colour-coded classrooms, luxury bathrooms, a common room and improved corridors.”
Chair of Governors Carol Rider said: “Our boys have enjoyed the opportunity to play a part in the re-generation of not just our own school but the wider community.
Helping and caring about other people is a message that resonates with our school ethos.
It is a valuable lesson that will help them in the future.”
Speech by Najib Salam
A warm welcome once again to HRH The Duke of Kent and a welcome to you all.
My name is Najib Salam. I am a Sixth Form student at Westminster City School.
Last year, I joined the school’s Army Cadet Force, Detachment 234 led by Mr Bush, and I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of this youth organisation.
We have the largest detachment in London and the school is extremely proud of the commitment and dedication shown by the pupils and students in the cadet force.
I see lots of dedication from my peers today. However, through cadets I have learnt about a former student of the school who has not only shown his dedication but also his devotion to our school and country.
Jack Pouchot attended Westminster City School from 1911-1913, where he served in the school’s cadet unit at the time.
Rifleman Pouchot enlisted into the 1st Battalion of the Queen’s Westminster Rifles (QWR) when The Great War broke out and was involved in the trench warfare.
Prior to last year’s Remembrance Sunday, I was given the honour alongside other cadets to participate in the Festival of Remembrance event at the Royal Albert Hall, remembering those who took part in World War battles namely that of Passchendaele.
Passchendaele was described as an infantryman’s graveyard, where even the most seasoned veteran would feel he would be lucky to go there and come return.
The price of freedom is high, but it is a price he was willing to pay.
Unfortunately, Jack had paid that price, and he was killed by enemy action just over a month before the 1918 Armistice.
On the 8th of January 1915, during the routine trench warfare, Corporal Roche was shot at by the enemy in No Man’s Land.
Alongside Rfm. Tibbs, Rfm. Pouchot crawled out of the trenches in an attempt to rescue him, in full view of the enemy.
According to regimental history, this was a procedure described as “practically certain death”. They succeeded in reaching him, but he was found to be dead.
Seeing that nothing more could be done, they both got back to the lines – a process in which, sadly, Rfm.
Tibbs was killed. For his gallant acts, Rfm Pouchot was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and is thought to be the youngest recipient of this award in the history of the British Army.
According to service records, at sixteen years old, Jack was evacuated from France due to severe jaundice and exhaustion, but his devotion to the cause led him to subsequently return as an officer for the Royal Flying Corps.
A few years later, on 27th September 1918 Jack was flying with 9 other aircraft when they encountered and engaged the enemy.
The attack was highly successful and he completed the combat report, claiming he had shot down two enemy aircraft.
But a month later whilst flying, they were shot down behind enemy lines.
The aircraft wreckage was found by advancing British troops and from the name on his clothing, Jack Auguste Pouchot was identified.
We can take a lesson from the dead. He was nineteen years old when he died. Jack had joined the war almost as soon as it broke out in 1914 and he survived many enemy engagements.
He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal at the age of 15 – one of the youngest recipient of this honour in the history of the British Army.
He was given this recognition for conspicuous gallantry and served with distinction in the Royal Flying Corps.
For someone whose core values compose of bravery as well as devotion, we believe these very traits will continue to inspire generations of young and ambitious individuals.
Jack Pouchot’s journey and story has taught me many things; but fundamentally it has taught me that it is up to us to live up to the legacy that was left for us, and to leave our own legacy for future generations to come.
Jack’s legacy may live through this school now, but that would not have been possible if it was not for Mr Wilson, our former Headmaster.
Incredible stories can only be told if there are people wiling to take great inspiration from remarkable people.
Alongside taking some of our cadets to visit Jack Pouchot’s grave, Mr. Wilson is solely responsible for all of the research and information that we have gathered on a former student of ours, and for this we are grateful.
Thank you. Your Royal Highness’ presence today in the unveiling will help us celebrate our former student and by naming this building after him, we hope that we will inspire generations to come.
Westminster City School will be able to educate so many more students as a result of this building project.
Thank you to all the contributors; who have made today possible. Today’s historic opening will enable the continued remembrance of a truly heroic individual.
A devoted individual; Jack Pouchot.