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Farlingaye pupils roll back the years

PUBLISHED: 19:34 21 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:58 03 March 2010

ROXY Music, Ipswich Town and a teacher with a basket on his head were among the topics discussed at a reunion of classmates from 1980.

More than 100 former pupils, who left Farlingaye High School 22 years ago, met up for a drink and a chat at St Audrey's Social Club in Melton on Saturday.

ROXY Music, Ipswich Town and a teacher with a basket on his head were among the topics discussed at a reunion of classmates from 1980.

More than 100 former pupils, who left Farlingaye High School 22 years ago, met up for a drink and a chat at St Audrey's Social Club in Melton on Saturday.

This reunion was the first time many old mates had seen each other in almost a quarter of a century and was the end result of many nostalgic hours trying to remember names, as organisers Julie Johnson and Sally Masters explained.

Sally said: "We all put our heads together to try and think of people we used to go to school with. We didn't have a register of anything else to go by but we thought of about 200 names in three or four meetings.

"In two of the meetings we just tried to think of just names of people and from then we worked out how we get in touch with them all."

Julie added: "We sent out letters and phone calls and even phoned parents. We haven't managed to contact everybody but there should be 130 people here tonight and 96 per cent of them we've not seen since 1978."

Julie and Sally were helped in organising the event by Gwenda Adolphine, Sally Woods and Julie Buckle, and, after arranging one reunion, there are plans for another in a couple of years.

Julie said: "We will all be turning 40 in a couple of years and may hold another reunion then."

Former pupil Nigel Gray said this reunion had sparked good memories of those school days, which, as the saying goes, are the best days of your life.

He said: "Most people here are from the Fifth year and a few from the Sixth form. Most of them I haven't seen for 22 years so it's great to be back.

"Most of them seem quite familiar - the women have worn very well, but I'm not so sure about some of the men."

Nigel met up again with his old friend Peter Clements, who reminded him of one of their favourite teachers.

Peter said: "Mr Birch! He was the craziest teacher – ask anyone here tonight about Mr Birch. He was incredible – just very unpredictable.

"He used to put a wicker basket on his head and threaten to jump out of the window. When he used to mark our essays, he would write in the margin and then he would correct his own notes for mistakes, so the essays looked very messy."

Pal Andrew Steele also chipped in with some anecdotes about Mr Birch.

He said: "He used to hide himself in the cupboard and would throw the blackboard rubber at us. He was the geography teacher and was a good laugh."

Peter said he also used to enjoy all the sport at the school such as hockey and he also fondly remembered the music he and his friends used to listen to which seemed to divide the school.

He said: "It was a funny time for music as punk was dying out and it was just before all the New Romantic stuff came in. There was a real rivalry between fans of bands like The Jam, Sex Pistols and Stiff Little Fingers.

"I was into everything, but I remember some of the Gary Numan fans used to paint their faces. It was really funny."

One of the moments that stood out for Peter during his school days was in the summer of 1978, just a couple of weeks after Ipswich Town famously beat Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup Final.

"Roger Osborne, who scored the winning goal, came to the school with his winner medal. It was a really big do as he was a former pupil at the school and we got a chance to see the medal close up.

"He is probably the most famous former pupil of the school along with Brian Eno, who used to be in Roxy Music."

While at the reunion Nigel Gray was re-introduced to a former girlfriend, Lydia Sansom. She said it was great to see him again.

"He hasn't changed a bit, but is a bit more sophisticated now. I've been to sixth form reunions, but none that are as big as this.

"I also remember all the sports from being at school such as netball, but nothing else that specific stands out."

Memories of that time had faded - but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, added Lydia.

"Most of the conversation is about now than back then. I think we're more interested in what we are all doing now. It's nice to know who has children and who had an interesting career. I want to know about now, not really about then. We were all together then so tonight it more about now."


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