The 11th Dunblane Pals

When the pupils leave Dunblane on the trip they will be known as the 11th Dunblane Pals, why they are called this will be fully explained to your
child by the tour guides during the trip however have a look at the link above which highlights some of the Pals Battalions.

Mercat Tours fully immerse the pupils in the history of the Great War, each coach is a company of the Dunblane Pals and as this is the 10th trip we’ve taken from Dunblane High School, your son/daughter has been called up to serve in the 10th Dunblane Pals Battalion of the Black Watch. There is a little bit of artistic licence in use here as the Black Watch did not raise any Pals Battalions, in fact the majority of the Scottish Infantry regiments didn’t.

There were however some famous Scottish Pals Battalions. One of the most famous was the 16th Battalion of the Royal Scots also known as McCrae’s Battalion, another notable Scottish Pals Battalion was the 15th Highland Infantry which recruited heavily from the Glasgow Tramways Staff, this battalion prided itself in having uniforms, when many had to drill in their own civilian clothes owing to uniform shortages, even if the uniforms of the 15th HLI were dark green Glasgow Tram Uniforms.

During the trip your child will learn about these and others such as the Manchester’s and the Accrington Pals.

Final Payment 29th March.

One thing I forgot to mention at the parents evening was that final payment must be made prior to travelling. The due date is Friday 29th March, and while at present some 59% of you have made full payment there are still some payments from December outstanding.

Please ensure that you make full payment, unless you have a prior arrangement with the school, by Friday 29th at the latest as we have some quite substantial payments to make over the next few weeks.

As ever if you are finding difficulty in meeting your payments please get in touch with us and we’ll sort something out for you.

Parents Briefing

click on the link below for the Mercat Tours brief.

MTI Brief

Coaches: Pupils have been assigned to coaches in the PSR classes they were in when they applied for a place.

Coach A. 1K1, 1R1, 1S1. Staff Mrs Smith, Mr Denny, Mrs Ferrie, Mr Smith.

Coach B. 1K2, 1R2, 1S2. Staff, Mr McRobbie, Mrs Sutherland, Miss Delaney.

The coaches will depart from school at 0930 on Monday 13th May, please turn up at least 30 minutes before as we are on a tight schedule and cannot wait on stragglers. We recommend you turn up no later than 0845.

Note the car park will be very busy, parents are asked to park in the overflow car park at the rear of the school, please follow the instructions of the parking marshals.

Note, we do not allow eating on the coach, so do not pack 2kg bags of Harribo in the hand luggage! No juice of any description allowed, water is encouraged.

We have a few pupils who have severe nut allergies, so would ask that you do not pack products containing nuts.

Your child will require 3 bags for the trip, a large rucksack or case containing all of the clothes for the trip, this will be placed in the hold of the coach until arrival at the hostel (Tuesday P.M.), a small backpack taken onto the coach containing everything required for overnight on the ferry, wash gear, spare underwear etc, and a final small bag containing wellies which will be placed in the hold of the coach for use on day 1.

As well as their hoodie your child should take a rainproof jacket onto the coach with them as this may b e needed at various points during the trip.

Medicines. If your child is on any prescription medicines please ensure that they bring these with them and that school staff are aware of what requirements are for taking these, also please supply a spare prescription medicine for each pupil labelled with name and dosage, this is especially important if your child carries an epipen. Please ensure any travel sickness medications are packed in pupils hand luggage. Please purchase anti bacterial hand gel for your child and tell them to use it!

Children with minor ailments, (sore heads, sore tummies) will be expected to travel each day, owing to the required staff to pupil ratios if one child has to be left behind then the whole coach has to stay behind! Major health issues will of course be referred to the excellent Belgian Health Service.

There will be at least 4 first aid qualified staff on the trip.

Accommodation: Mrs Smith handed out accommodation request forms for the dormitories in the hostel, these forms must be returned to Mrs Smith as soon as possible, if you don’t return a form we will assume your child is happy to share a room with any other children in her/his year group. The cabins on the ferry are allocated by the tour company and P&O ferries, children will be allocated to male or female 4 berth cabins alphabetically and by PSR class, children will be expected to be in their cabins by 2200 and sleeping by 2230.

Hoodies and T Shirts: Ms Delaney will organise these to be handed out a short time before the trip, t shirts should if possible have a name tag sewn in and the it’s a good idea to wash the hoodies before first wearing them, Hoodies are not to be worn until the evening of travel, and should not be worn as part of school uniform, they must be worn at all times when travelling on the trip.

Passports and EHIC cards. Valid passports and EHIC cards should be handed in to Mr Denny for coach A and Mrs Sutherland for coach B on the 7th May, note as we are still in the dark regarding Brexit if your child has less than 6 months left on their passport by the date we leave then you must apply for a new passport now, No valid passport, no travel! In the event of a no deal Brexit then EHIC cards will no longer be valid, Mercat Tours International have, at their own expense, arranged medical insurance to cover any medical emergencies, however we still recommend you take out private travel insurance to cover your child for all eventualities. Should there be a Brexit deal then EHIC cards will be valid until 2020 however no futher applications for new or replacement EHIC cards is being allowed by the UK government after the 29th March this year, if your child’s card is due to run out or has run out apply now.

Personal money. We suggest roughly €70 this money to be handed to Mr Denny coach A or Mrs Sutherland coach B in a sealed envelope with the pupils name and initial together with amount written on it. Most coach stops are short comfort breaks only however pupils will need some Sterling for the one long stop on the way out and again on the return journey. Pupils will be given £10 towards lunch on the way out, they will be provided with all other meals including a packed lunch for the journey home. If parents wish their child to carry all their own money it must be at their own risk.

Electronic equipment. Cameras and mobile phones are permitted, do not bring portable DVD players, laptops, or tablets as there will be limited time to use these. The school/tour and coach company will not insure you for any equipment taken to the trip.

Banned items. Pupils purchasing banned items will have these confiscated, banned items include alcohol, tobacco products, drug paraphernalia, laser pens, lighters, knives and any other items deemed by the staff to be inappropriate.

Return to Dunblane. We are due back in Dunblane around 1700 on Saturday 18th. Please ensure that you turn up promptly to pick up your child, we will try to get them to contact you around 2 hours before we are due to arrive back at school, they may not always have battery left in their phone so we will put a message out on the school’s twitter feed (if network connection is available).

Parents information evening

Reminder the parents information evening is tomorrow Thursday 7th March starting at 7pm prompt, please aim to arrive by no later than 6.45.

This is an important evening where you will be fully briefed by a representative of Mercat Tours International, and school staff. There are significant changes to the tour this year so even if you have had children on the trip before please try to attend.

If you are unable to attend the information will be posted on this blog next week.

Parents information evening.

The parental information evening will take place on Thursday 7th March in the Murray Hall starting at 7pm prompt. Please aim to arrive by 6.50 to ensure the meeting can start on time.

This is a very important meeting, where you will be given the chance to speak to a representative of Mercat Tours International, and also the school staff who are going on the trip. Hopefully all of the questions you wish to ask will be answered at this meeting.

5th payment

Reminder: the 5th installment of £75 is due this Friday 22nd February, please ensure that you make this payment on time. Thanks to those parents who have already paid.

Once you have made this payment your outstanding balance should be £75 or less.

Update Tuesday 26th
As of lunchtime today there are 25 payments outstanding from last Friday, 8 from the January payment and 1 from December, we have to make the final payment to the tour company this week and would be very grateful if all outstanding payments are made by the end of this week.

Brexit and Passports

As B Day draws ever closer and there’s still no clarity regarding what may happen, the UK Government are recommending that all UK citizens intending travelling abroad have at least 6 months left on their passport before travelling.

I am aware that some of our pupils have less than that so can you please check using this link below whether you child will require to have their passport renewed before travelling.

Did your family have a relative killed in the Great War?

Something we try to incorporate into each year’s trip is a visit to the grave or memorial of ancestors of our pupils. This is often a very poignant and moving experience,

If you have lost any family member in the Great War (WW1) can you please let us have as much information on them as possible. We’d ask for Name, Date and place of Birth, Regiment, Date of Death, Service Number, Where buried or commemorated. We understand that you may not have all of these details but please give us as much as possible.

This relative does not need to have been a great grandparent, or great uncle, any close relative or distant family member is appropriate.

If your relative is buried or commemorated near to any of the places in our itinerary we will make every effort to visit their place of rest, although time and accessibility may mean we are unable to do so.

May I ask one thing of you all though, can you please give us as much notice as possible so the coach company and tour guides can try to factor in a visit, please don’t leave it until the last minute!


Just a quick reminder that the 4th payment of £75 is due to be paid by this Friday the 25th. Once you have made this payment your outstanding balance should be £150 or less.

If you are having difficulty making payments please contact the school.

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