Back to school for class of 1967



TALES of ’60s school life abounded when a quarter of Haslingden Grammar School’s class of 1967 met up for their first reunion.

As 11-year-olds, the students initially attended school premises in Bury Road, Haslingden, but after October half-term they became the first Year 1 students, now known as Year 7, to move into new school buildings in Greens Lane, Haslingden, which are now part of Haslingden High School and Sixth Form.

Former students Chris Kirby, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, and Jackie Robinson, from Baxenden, organised the reunion, spending ages tracking down as many former classmates and collating photos and cuttings for a display and a souvenir booklet.

Chris said: “I feel so much better now, it has been quite a challenge.”

The reunion started on Saturday afternoon with everyone meeting at St Peter’s Centre in Haslingden, when former teacher Mrs Joan Gudgeon took the school register.

They held a silence in memory of the Queen and school pals who were no longer with them.

Current Haslingden High Headteacher Russell Clarke was then delighted to greet the alumni when they arrived at their former school and he gave them a guided tour of the premises.

Former students travelled from all over the UK including Derby, Coventry, Dorset, Stourbridge, Chorlton, Clayton-le-Moors, some still lived in Rossendale including Lynda Barker, who only lives round the corner in Broadway.

While touring the premises, they passed the sports hall and Sandra Tattersall, from Rawtenstall, recalled: “That is where I broke my nose on the trampoline when I did a somersault, landed sat down, but the momentum caused by body to fall forwards.”

On entering one of their former form rooms Louise Westwell, from Greenmount, remembered: “Miss Kirby, Chris’ Aunt, was our form teacher, she was firm but fair.”

Andrew Brown, who is a Priest and was Archdeacon of Man before retiring to Derby, said: “The first day was pretty frightening. I was really proud I had passed my 11+. They kept a lot of the primary school cohort together and I was in Miss Kirby’s form. She had also taught my mum and she soon established the connection.

“We were the first ones on this site to do seven years, if we stayed on to sixth form. I loved sixth form because you were expected to do your own reading around the subjects.”

In one of the science labs, which had been a library in the students’ day, Chris handed Mr Clarke a library book on sailing which he had borrowed from school in 1969, but never returned.

Jeff Cheetham, from Baxenden, said: “I wasn’t here as much as everybody else; I used to elect what days I came to school. I even got a mention in the school mag saying ‘I made a surprise appearance just before Christmas’.”

Jeff admitted to climbing out of a ground floor window to get away from detention, only to be caught and gain an extra one. He went on to be a motor mechanic and have his own business.

Debbie Worthington, from Clayton-le-Moors, said the school hall had not changed and she could remember being there for PE, assembly and school productions.

Although shy at school when she ‘wouldn’t say boo to a goose’, she left at 16 and went on to a become an estate agent and then a Civil Servant.

Christine Ayrton recalled how satchels had to be stored under the staircase while everyone went out for break. One day, along with her friends Carol Ann and Wendy, she hid underneath them to avoid going outside, that was until a teacher Mr Thomas discovered them.

Anna Kyryluk, from Chorlton said: “Last week I was struggling to sleep and I was listening to a radio podcast about why people go to school reunions so I didn’t sleep for another hour.

“It has been really nice seeing everyone and sharing memories and it has been wonderful to see so many people here, I am only sad that three of my good friends from school have died. I felt very emotional as I was driving down the M66.”

Although initially planned as a one-off reunion, several people were unable to attend and those that could had such a good time reminiscing, they have asked Chris if he will organise another meet up next year.