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Defrosting milk bottles, rose hips as itching powder – friends are reunited, 61 years on

PUBLISHED: 10:06 09 August 2017

The orignal school photograph taken during the school year of 1955/6 at East Harling Primary School. 
Top Row L-R: Mrs Moore, Mervin Hayward, Stuart Bell, Neil Bell, Tony Carter, Philip Edge, John Richardson, John Boggia, Richard Sheldrake, Graham Cillett.
Second Row L-R : Colin Blades, Diane Langley, Thelma Worby, Sandra Park, Valerie King, Linda Baker, Sheila Fowler, Marianne Risebourgh, Brian Williamson
Front Row L-R: Janette Loveday, Janice Osborne, Tina Park, Jackie Towel, Sally Thompson, Shirley Bowman, Kay Newson, Rosie Watson, Anita Bullman
Very Front: Barry Jackall and Ted Reeve. picture: Malcolm Blades

The orignal school photograph taken during the school year of 1955/6 at East Harling Primary School. Top Row L-R: Mrs Moore, Mervin Hayward, Stuart Bell, Neil Bell, Tony Carter, Philip Edge, John Richardson, John Boggia, Richard Sheldrake, Graham Cillett. Second Row L-R : Colin Blades, Diane Langley, Thelma Worby, Sandra Park, Valerie King, Linda Baker, Sheila Fowler, Marianne Risebourgh, Brian Williamson Front Row L-R: Janette Loveday, Janice Osborne, Tina Park, Jackie Towel, Sally Thompson, Shirley Bowman, Kay Newson, Rosie Watson, Anita Bullman Very Front: Barry Jackall and Ted Reeve. picture: Malcolm Blades

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It is a classic image of smiling schoolchildren in the 1950s.

Former pupils of East Harling Primary School re-create the a school photgraph taken in the 1950s.
Back Row L-R: Mervin Hayward, Philip Edge, Brian Williamson, Barry Jeckell, John Boggia, Richard Sheldrake.
Front Row R-L: Linda Baker, Sandra Park, Kay Newson, Marion Riseborough, Anita Bullman. Picture: Malcolm Blades Former pupils of East Harling Primary School re-create the a school photgraph taken in the 1950s. Back Row L-R: Mervin Hayward, Philip Edge, Brian Williamson, Barry Jeckell, John Boggia, Richard Sheldrake. Front Row R-L: Linda Baker, Sandra Park, Kay Newson, Marion Riseborough, Anita Bullman. Picture: Malcolm Blades

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.

East Harling school - parents and children outside the school gates  pic taken 11th jan 1972  m17588-9  pic to be used in lets talk jan 2015 East Harling school - parents and children outside the school gates pic taken 11th jan 1972 m17588-9 pic to be used in lets talk jan 2015

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.

East Harling Primary school which is now the village hall. picture: Malcom Blades East Harling Primary school which is now the village hall. picture: Malcom Blades

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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