Even now, one of the boys still struggles to sleep.
He misses his friends, teachers and the magical allure of the Harry Potter-style boarding school that parachuted both him and his brothers far away from the humdrum familiarity of their Welsh hometown, and into the opulent upper echelons of the English capital.
For Lukas, 13, Pascal, 11 and nine-year-old Florian, the majority of their fellow pupils at Westminster Cathedral Choir School (WCCS) were from another world.
Yet despite their differences, they quickly settled into their new routine, formed brotherly camaraderie with the other choristers, and relished the chance to train and sing every day.
However, following the changes to the WCCS full-time timetable for choirboys, it has become “impossible” for choristers from outside of London, such as the Siemens brothers, to be part of this world any longer.
“My children were discarded,” Derek Siemens said. “My sweet, precious children who are young and innocent and full of love and life and who just wanted to sing, have been kicked to the curb.”
Last year WCCS introduced a new timetable - scrapping full-time boarding and reducing choristers’ stays to weekly stints. This meant that parents - such as Mr and Mrs Siemens - would have to collect their children every Friday evening and then return to the school again on Sundays.
For the 44-year-old father-of-five, he believes that this was a move to encourage only London-based families to attend WCCS, and slowly erode the choir school.
Furthermore, the uprooting of his sons from their routine has not only caused all of them anxiety, but also he claims that one boy continues to suffer sleepless nights and exhibit symptoms akin to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For Mr Siemens, there is no doubt as to where the blame lies for his sons’ distress lies; he points the finger directly at Cardinal Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster.
Despite Pope Franics saying that the Catholic Church should be a ‘Church for the poor’, the Siemens family claim that they were cast aside at their most vulnerable. Mr Siemens also believes that Cardinal Nichols, who acts as the Pope’s representative in England and Wales, is directly responsible for the “emotional abuse” of his children.
Seeing their three children so distressed, has impacted the whole family. “How can a school which is truly Catholic, have parents pleading on behalf of three boys just completely ignore them, shut them down and force a change - which has huge repercussions - on them?” Mr Siemens asked.
“I don’t like to use these terms loosely but I think that, one of my sons is showing symptoms that are like PTSD, he still calls out daily because he misses his friends and some of his teachers. The school was their home away from home. They don’t understand why they’ve been kicked out and they can’t process it.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分“I think that what has happened to my boys amounts to emotional abuse at the hands of Vincent Nichols. In his letters to us he takes full responsibility for this decision which, in my mind, means he is basically guilty of kicking my children out and giving them long term emotional trauma."
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分The Siemens family hail from Newport, south east Wales. All three of their choristor-children who were “kicked out” of WCCS were the recipients of a number of grants and scholarships, without which they could not attend the prestigious school, along with other, more privileged boys.
“With all of the grants put together, we were making monthly payments which were sort of manageable,” Mr Siemens said.
“We never went looking to change our social status, we went because we're a Catholic family and wanted our sons to have what seemed like an incredible opportunity.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分“Before WCCS, the boys were home-educated, so they weren’t prepped in the way you would expect some of the other boys who go to these types of schools were.”
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分For Mr Siemens, who works as an architect, and and his violinist wife, Gisele, 43, they could not afford the petrol nor the time to make weekly commutes to London. Besides, most of the other parents were already based in the capital. As a result, they believe they were forced to become “musical and academic refugees” and pull their sons out of the school they so loved.
Their 300-mile round commute from Newport to Westminster would only occur on special occasions and would often centre around the Christmas service at WCCS.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Usually, the children would “run feral outdoors”. They don’t own mobile phones nor video game consoles, so when all seven of them are together, family would go on mountain bike excursions.
However despite half of the Siemens family living in London it was always “Christmas tradition” for them to be altogether during the festive season.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Back home in Newport, Mr and Mrs Siemens as well as their two elder sons and daughter, would pack up and leave the house at 6am before making the three-hour journey down to London to get there in time for morning prayer and Christmas mass.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分While the journey to Westminster would usually involve an expected degree of chaos, it would also mark one of the rare times when all five children and their parents would be together as a family.
As the Siemens children would clamber over each other into their Ford Galaxy people carrier, excitedly opening their individual stockings - sent personally from Father Christmas - the whole family would sing along to carols in preparation for the concert. The radio would blare out songs played on either Classic FM or Radio 3, depending on popular demand.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Later, they would watch the three youngest boys sing in festive concerts, and would swell with pride at how well “our choristors” were doing in the capital. And on the way back home to Wales, the other children, exhausted from London, would doze off.
“When we’d go and visit our choristers at the school outside of the Christmas services, there were no spaces in the school that we could use,” Mr Siemens recalled. “So in an effort to stay warm and dry in London without spending money we searched out pubs with quiet corners and very inexpensive restaurants where we could spend time as a family.”
Shortly before the new timetable was initiated, parents had begun to gossip that weekly boarding would become the status quo at WCCS. However Mr Siemens claimed that these rumours were quickly rebuffed by the school’s headmaster, Neil McLaughlan, who sent a letter to one concerned parent assuring them this was ‘just Chinese whispers’.
Yet just a few weeks later, all parents received a letter from the school saying they had gone through a “comprehensive consultation” and had decided that the only way for the choir to survive was to go down to weekly boarding
“We were absolutely gobsmacked,” Mr Siemens recalled. “I didn’t believe it at first. It didn’t feel quite real. And then we found out that the boys had been told at school. And our boys who very much know their parents circumstances recognised right away that that meant they would no longer be continuing their studies there.”
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分He said that he tried to meet with Cardinal Nichols and beg him to reconsider his decision and instead consider some of his ideas of how the school could be kept alive.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分However, the Archbishop refused to see the family.
“We went to his palace after the Easter services in the spring because that was the last time that my boys sang there and I just wanted to see the whites of the man's eyes.
“But Alexander Masters, his personal assistant, came down and told us to leave and that the Archbishop was tired after Easter services and couldn't see us. I then sent the Archbishop an email asking to meet and he replied saying that he sees the boys once a year and that's sufficient, it’s not going to change and he doesn't see any reason to see us.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分“I don’t know how much you know about the story of Jesus but for a guy who's meant to be in persona christi, the behaviour has been absolutely appalling.”