North Lopham school helps brothers trace mother’s past

Three Norfolk brothers visited their late mother's old school in the hope of piecing together information about her childhood.

Barrie Skinner, 65, of Wroxham, along with brothers Tim, 62, of Wymondham, and Brian, 56, of Norwich, spent yesterday afternoon at St Andrew's Primary School, in North Lopham, near Diss, where they met residents who had known their mother, then called Lilian Grover.

Current pupils were invited to listen to their stories of past village life and recorded them using mini video cameras. They were also able to browse through school records, including an old register and punishment book.

Lilian along with her younger sisters Amy and Margaret joined the school, then North Lopham Primary School, in May 1929 aged 10.

Although details remain unclear, the sisters came to the south Norfolk village from Brighton via Barnardo's. Their father had died and it is speculated that their mother was unable to cope with the large family, which also included another two brothers and a sister. The older three remained in Sussex.

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In North Lopham, Lilian lived at the school and was fostered by its headmaster Joe Castell and his wife while her two sisters stayed with another family in the village.

In later years she moved to Norwich, marrying Bill Skinner in 1942 and had four children.

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Since her death in June last year, aged 91, her sons, which also include Bill, 67, of Croydon, have been keen to shed some light on her earlier years and gained valuable information about her foster carers from yesterday's visit.

Brian said: 'She had talked about living here and about Mr and Mrs Castell and spoke very fondly of them but the circumstances leading up to that we do not know very much.'

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