Reunion marks new era

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MEMORIES of school days from as long ago as the 1940s will be rekindled in November when former pupils of the Gleed schools in Spalding gather to celebrate their 70th anniversary.

A reunion is planned for former pupils on Tuesday, November 1, the day before the Gleed Boys’ and Gleed Girls’ schools become one co-educational establishment, called Sir John Gleed School.

Head teacher Janet Daniels, who will head the combined school, describes the reunion as “an ideal time for us to celebrate all the happy memories for past students while looking forward to new beginnings and an exciting future for today’s young people”.

Among the very first pupils who will be at the reunion will be Evelyn Cooper (81), who now lives in Peterborough but spent many years at Whaplode and Whaplode Drove. Evelyn Biggadike, as she was then, whose father was landlord of the Lamb and Flag at Whaplode from 1934 until 1953, joined the girls’ school in 1941, the first year it was open. Evelyn recalls she started working at age 11 or 12 helping her mother, another Evelyn, in the pub, and that if she had a day off school she would get into trouble because they said she was managing the pub.

In fact, Evelyn had the opportunity to attend Spalding High School, but explains: “I didn’t get a chance. With uniforms and books and such money was very tight in the 40s and my dad wanted me to help him in the pub when I left school at 14.”

Money was so short that Evelyn’s father worked as a foreman for a road surfacing company as well as running the pub, working at the sugar beet factory in winter.

Evelyn recalls that subjects they studied included “the more domestic side” such as cookery and sewing, and says: “When the war was on you couldn’t just go and buy things from the shops. Material was on ration as well as cookery ingredients. Although the war lasted until 1945, rationing didn’t stop until 1952 so even when I got married things were still in short supply. When we were children we didn’t realise the seriousness of war.”

From the day she left school until she married Robert (Bob) Cooper aged 22, Evelyn says she received £1 a week pocket money plus tips, but says that went a long way in those days. She and Bob have been married 60 years and have four children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Someone else attending the reunion is Steve Lewis, who was at the Gleed Boys’ School from 1969 to 1974. He has memories of playing football and sport in the playground with a tennis ball and of chilly lessons in the outdoor pool. Steve adds: “I recall the excitement when the 5th year common room was opened and we could mix with girls!

“Eric Young was headmaster and I’m glad to say that I never got to see inside his office.”

The reunion will be a chance for past pupils to share memories and recall names of teachers and class mates from the past.

Tea is being served for visitors at 4pm, sponsored by Lincolnshire Co-operative, when there will be an opportunity to look through the schools’ archive of pictures and stories as well as catching up with old friends.

Tea will be followed by a performance by current students in celebration of the past 70 years.