Thursday 07 August 2014

Youth Embassy of Vignacourt

A quirk of fate brought nine French teenagers and their guardians to visit Plenty Campus early this term and stay with Plenty families. This story is quite extraordinary. In 2011, more than 4,000 photographic plates belonging to Louis and Antoinette Thuillier were found in an attic, in the tiny French village of Vignacourt. When these plates were processed, images of Australian Diggers from the First World War emerged bringing young faces, long gone, back to life.

The village of Vignacourt, an hour from the Somme, is an idyllic historical village. One enterprising village family bought the best camera they could afford and set about taking photos of the Diggers, transferring them to picture postcards which Australian Diggers then sent home to their families. When the War ended, the plates were packed away for decades where they gathered dust in this attic.

A group of inspiring French teenagers began the extraordinary journey to return the plates and meet the families of Australian Diggers from the First World War. Ashley Wilson, a Humanities teacher at the School, saw a request for help from the organisers and this led to an outpouring of support with Plenty families billeting the teens and showing them Melbourne.

Thank you to all the Plenty staff, students and families who opened their homes and their hearts to this wonderful opportunity. So much cultural understanding pooled and such rich and relevant history shared. A wonderful moment in time!