Old school chums meet for reunion

A GROUP of old school friends who met up for the first time in more than a quarter of a century have today said they are determined to stay in touch.Past students from the year of 1981 at Stoke High School, in Maidenhall Approach, Ipswich, met up in Thrashers pub, in Ipswich, to remember past days and catch up.

A GROUP of old school friends who met up for the first time in more than a quarter of a century have today said they are determined to stay in touch.

Past students from the year of 1981 at Stoke High School, in Maidenhall Approach, Ipswich, met up in Thrashers pub, in Ipswich, to remember past days and catch up.

The 26-year reunion was spurred on by the return of Alison Howlett, 42, to Ipswich after moving out of the town in the 80s to live with her American husband.

Mrs Howlett came back to Ipswich from California after discovering her father was terminally ill.

She said: “I came back to Ipswich to see my dad because he was diagnosed with cancer and was given six months to live.

“But the week after I arrived he passed away; I've ended up staying longer for the funeral and to be with my mum.

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“I have kept in touch with a few people and I bumped into a few others in town so we decided to meet up and see how many other people we could get together.”

Mrs Howlett moved to California three years ago but moved out of the Suffolk area not long after leaving school.

She hasn't seen many of her school mates for 26 years and said she was delighted to meet up with so many of her old school friends during her month-long stay.

Former Stoke High pupil, Lee Gifkins, 43, of Whights Corner, in Washbrook, said although the circumstances of the reunion were sad for Alison, it was a great occasion.

He said: “It was amazing to see everybody after 26 years.

“There were a few people I didn't even recognise until they came up to me and told me who they were.

“It was very family orientated with lots of pictures of children being passed around; one of the girls was even a grandmother.”

Mr Gifkins now lives with his partner, Frances, and runs a successful business as a commodity broker selling alcoholic drinks.

Arron Wharton, 42, of Brunswick Road, Ipswich, said: “It was great to just meet people we haven't seen for years and years.

It's amazing really considering most of us live in the town and go shopping all the time, and we haven't seen anybody in all that time.”

Mr Wharton, who has worked for BT in the IT department since he left school, lives with his wife, Jane, and 15 year-old daughter, India.

All past students from Stoke High in 1981 are invited to another reunion at The Woolpak, in Ipswich, on November 30.

Are you holding a reunion? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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