Photo gallery: Wymondham College reunion marks school’s 60th birthday

There were many hugs and plenty of stories at Wymondham College today as more than 100 former students greeted old friends and relived their school days during a special reunion.

The celebratory day marked the first in a series of events due to take place over the next 15 months to commemorate the college's 60th birthday.

Those invited back included the college's first ever students, who are affectionately nicknamed pioneers, and their partners, as well as some original members of staff, who were treated to a thanksgiving service in the school's chapel, lunch and a trip on a vintage bus to Wymondham Heritage Museum where a new exhibition dedicated to the history of the college is currently on display.

Principal Melvyn Roffe, who took up the post in 2007, said: 'The idea was to invite as many people as we could find in the first year of the college's existence.

'Some have not been back since they left. Some have come back but have not met all these people. It's a nice way to start our 60 year celebrations.'

He added: 'What you realise in a sense is that what I'm in charge of is just the tip of the iceberg. How the college has achieved success over the years is a result of the achievements of those teachers in the early days, as well as the students.'

Wymondham College opened its doors in 1951 on the site of a former Second World War US Air Force hospital. The left over Nissan huts and temporary buildings were used as classrooms and dormitories, and it was not until the 1990s when a major scheme of redevelopment took place.

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Today the modern languages block, the water tower and the chapel, which is housed in the last remaining Nissen hut, serve as a daily reminder of the site's rich heritage.

The state boarding school is rated as outstanding by Ofsted and recently became Norfolk's latest academy.

One of the original students, Peter Woodyard, 71, who originally lived in Weybourne, near Holt, but now lives in Wiltshire, said it had been brilliant to be reunited with some old faces.

He boarded at the college between 1951 and 1955, and even remembers him and his school friends being asked to level the new playing field.

'All we had in those days was rows and rows of Nissan huts and we had a playing field,' he said.

'Most of us came from houses without running water and here we had heating, plumbing and baths.

'We boarded in the Nissan huts - they had central heating. At home all we had was a coal fire in the winter so we didn't mind coming back here.'

Pamela Thetford, nee Wegg, 72, of Sheringham, who also boarded at the school between 1951 and 1955, said starting at the new college was exciting but daunting as for most children it was the first time they had been away from home.

'It looks so different from how it was before because I just remember the Nissan huts. It's a different world really,' she said.

'It's been absolutely marvellous. I've met so many different people today. You look at the list of who is here and then try to find their faces.'

Other events planned to celebrate the college's diamond anniversary include a ball and a summer barbecue. Staff and students are also currently working with a composer to create a new piece of music for the big birthday.

Later in the year a thanksgiving service will take place at Norwich Cathedral and a House of Commons reception will be organised for former students now living in London, which will be attended by Norfolk MPs George Freeman and Norman Lamb, the latter of whom is also an alumnus of the college.

For more information on the celebrations, visit