Defrosting milk bottles, rose hips as itching powder – friends are reunited, 61 years on
PUBLISHED: 10:06 09 August 2017
It is a classic image of smiling schoolchildren in the 1950s.
Taking a break from the three Rs, they are beautifully turned out for the sun-kissed shot that their parents will cherish.
And 61 years on, many of them are back – to recreate the photo that brings so many memories flooding back.
On Saturday, around 30 old classmates from East Harling Primary School returned to their former school to pose for the reconstruction of the 1955/56 photograph.
Organised by Thelma Wheelar and Richard Sheldrake, the event saw old pupils travel from across the country and world to re-visit their old school, including Mr Sheldrake who travelled from New Zealand.
Taken in the meadow behind the school, the original photograph shows the class of 29 with their teacher Mrs Moore.
Built in 1837, the school served the community until 1983 when a newer building more able to cope with the growing needs of the village was built in Gallants Lane.
During the 1950s, there were over 80 pupils in the school, which now acts as the village hall.
Reminiscing over their school-day antics, Kay Copping (nee Newson), Linda Copping (nee Baker) and Thelma Wheelar (nee Worby) recalled things that show just how much school life has changed.
The three remembered milk bottles being defrosted next to the school’s coke-fired boilers in the winter months, using rose hips as itching powder, and the school’s outdoor toilets, which were only emptied once a week, and always during lunchtime.
But the overwhelming sense was of how much each pupil enjoyed their time at the school, and the good grounding it gave them for the rest of their lives.
Philip Edge, who has lived in East Harling his whole life, said: “They were lovely times, there weren’t the stresses of today.
“It was a safe environment, we could go off and play with our friends and disappear for hours and our parents wouldn’t worry.
“Today’s children are missing that freedom.”
Thelma Wheelar has similarly fond memories: “It was brilliant, such a good little school and we were all such a happy little bunch.”
Mr Sheldrake, who instigated the reunion, said: “It’s quite remarkable, 60 years down the line how we’ve all come back. It’s amazing.”
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