Former classmates held a reunion to mark 60 years since they all started at Downham Market Grammar School.
The group began lessons at the school at Ryston End on 15th September 1954. But the years tumbled away as they set foot in their old classrooms once again when they returned for a reunion just over 60 years later.
The school, which is now part of Downham Market Academy, opened up especially for the visitors during half term so that the group of 12 former pupils – and one former teacher – could relive their memories.
They were welcomed by academy principal Mr Jon Ford, academy business manager Mrs Jackie Appleby and students of the academy’s sixth form, which is now housed in the building where the class of ’54 once had their lessons.
Some of them had travelled long distances to be at the event, including former teacher Mrs Janet Heady, formerly Miss Butler, who had been the group’s English and History teacher from 1954 to 1955. Now in her early 80s and living in Northamptonshire, she took along a jewellery box which had been presented to her by her former pupils when she left the school decades ago.
The group, who went on to have lunch at The Castle Hotel in Downham Market, is now hoping to have a regular annual get-together.
“We had an excellent day and wish to thank the principal, business manager and their delightful students who hosted us throughout our visit,” said Richard Yallop, from Watton, who was one of the organisers of the reunion. “The excellent tours round our old school were brilliant, and we all enjoyed everything so very much. Now we have some very nice photos as super reminders, as well as a big surge of nostalgia.”
Pictured left to right on the back row are Warwick Hunt, Ron MacDonald, Sylvia Shaw (nee Lister), Patsy Parker (nee Sampher), and Richard Yallop. Left to right on the middle row are Judy Reed (nee King), Janet Heady (nee Miss Butler) and Katrina Morris (nee Butterworth). On the front row, left to right are Susan Dawson (nee Bailey), Betty Crowther (nee Currie), Diana Rix (nee Matthews), Janice Griggs (nee Day) and Diana Lambert (nee Croote).
The recent 60th anniversary get-together was sparked by a reunion in June 2011 for pupils who had been leavers from Downham Market Grammar School between 1959 and 1970. Three ex-pupils who started at the school in 1954 attended the event. This was followed by another get-together in September 2011 especially for their year group, which was attended by the original three, plus three others. Then last year, others were tracked down for a reunion involving even more of their former classmates, with plans put in place for this year’s diamond anniversary celebration.
Diana Rix (nee Matthews), who lives in Castle Rising, said: “It was so lovely to go back to our old school and to meet some of the young people who are currently in the sixth form. We had a wonderful day, reminiscing about our time at school, talking about our fellow pupils and catching up with each other. Some of us hadn’t seen each other for years.”
The reunion was organised by Richard Yallop, Diana Rix, Judy Reed, from Downham Market, and Warwick Hunt, from Terrington St Clement.