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Norwich schoolgirls from 1950s reunited

09:29 27 September 2012

The Notre Dame School class photograph taken around 1953, which includes Joanna Honey-Bates, front row right, who blocked out her smile on the picture. Also in the picture are Jill Dobson, centre row, 3rd left; Gillian Thorburn, back row, 2nd left; and Joyce Smith, centre row, right.

The Notre Dame School class photograph taken around 1953, which includes Joanna Honey-Bates, front row right, who blocked out her smile on the picture. Also in the picture are Jill Dobson, centre row, 3rd left; Gillian Thorburn, back row, 2nd left; and Joyce Smith, centre row, right.

Girls who attended a class at Notre Dame school in Norwich in the 1950s are still meeting up nearly 60 years later.

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Their latest biennial reunion this week at Bawburgh golf club, near Norwich, was attended by 14 former pupils with some coming from as far away as Cumbria and Hampshire.

The ladies, all now aged 72 or 73, were in the same class at Notre Dame from 1951 to 1956, or 1958 if they stayed on.

Ex-pupil Gillian Thorburn, from Folly Gardens, Wymondham, said: “Twenty-one of the girls who were in the class in the 1950s were told about the reunion and 14 attended.

“We are still striving to find some of the other girls who were in the class. Several have died.

“The reunions started in a small way pretty soon after we all left school, so we have not really lost touch.

“These biennial reunions have been going for about 20 years. For those of us who still live in the Norwich/Norfolk area, some of us meet up once a month as well.”

Notre Dame was a private all-girls school in the 1950s, but some scholarship pupils attended, and the girls were taught by nuns.

Joyce Smith, from Marlingford, near Norwich, said the class was not particularly close in the 1950s.

“No more than other classes, I don’t think,” she said. “But there was an atmosphere at the school with the nuns. We were taught respect, and always bowed our heads, although we were naughty at times. There was no bullying in those days, maybe because we were all girls.”

There are 28 girls in a photograph of the class taken in the early 1950s, and 12 of them attended the reunion this week.

Joanna Honey-Bates, who now lives near Leicester, blotted out the lower part of her face soon after the picture was taken. For some reason she did not like her expression, but she agreed to smile again for our camera at the reunion.

Julie Miller, who lives in Cumbria, said they met up regularly because they were such a “fascinating, dynamic and charismatic” bunch.

And Jill Dobson, from Hampshire, added: “We were all in the same class and we got on well together. They must have been good days, if not we would not be here today.”

The group returned to Notre Dame school on the 50th anniversary of their leaving in 2006.

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