Pupils relive epic Chinese journey

PUBLISHED: 11:37 07 January 2008 | UPDATED: 12:45 06 May 2010

Head Norman Hoare will accompany pupils on the China trip

Head Norman Hoare will accompany pupils on the China trip

THREE students from a local school are preparing for a trip to China where they will visit a school established by a heroic former pupil who saved the lives of scores of orphans. The sixth-formers at St George s in Harpenden will be accompanied by four st

THREE students from a local school are preparing for a trip to China where they will visit a school established by a heroic former pupil who saved the lives of scores of orphans.

The sixth-formers at St George's in Harpenden will be accompanied by four staff, including head teacher Norman Hoare, as they depart for Beijing and the edge of Mongolia in February.

During the 10-day trip they will see the school that former pupil, Oxford graduate and journalist George Hogg, established after he moved his original technical school hundreds of miles over treacherous mountains during a brutal winter in 1943 to save the students from advancing Japanese armies.

It is located in the very north of China in a provincial town called Shandun on the edge of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and it continues to thrive.

The St George's students hope to interview some people in the area, now in their 70s and 80s, who remember George Hogg before he died of tetanus following an injury during a game of basketball at the age of just 29.

His inspirational story is the subject of a new film called The Children of Huang Shi, directed by the Roger Spottiswoode - who also directed the Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies - which is set for release in cinemas worldwide this year.

Lead teacher Barbara Gerwein secured £5,000-worth of funding from the British Council for the trip during which temperatures are set to plummet to an average of minus 22 degrees centigrade.

The students have been preparing well for the excursion and have met the former president of the Old Boys Association from Wadham College Oxford where Hogg is remembered as an outstanding scholar.

Mr Hoare said: "All this is typically Georgian. It's got the human story, the excitement of a perilous journey in war-time China and a former pupil who achieved great things in Christian service. It really captures our imagination and has done the film company that has spent millions on shooting the full-length movie."

The trip has come off the back of a similar excursion last year which saw 25 sixth formers spending a fortnight at an international school in Beijing and staying with families in the provinces.

The February trip will take the students and staff to the same school in Beijing and they will travel with some of the pupils there on the 25-hour train journey through the night to get to Hogg's school on the Mongolian border.

Since St George's forged links with China, pupils have been keen to take on Chinese studies which have been set up at lunchtime and in after-school clubs.

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