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Pupils recall best days of their lives

PUBLISHED: 16:29 05 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:19 03 March 2010

GENERATIONS of people from an Ipswich school danced the night away and reminisced about the "best days of their lives."

For some former pupils at Priory Heath secondary modern, which later became Nacton Heath High School, they could reflect on great memories, while others were just glad to leave their education behind.

GENERATIONS of people from an Ipswich school danced the night away and reminisced about the "best days of their lives."

For some former pupils at Priory Heath secondary modern, which later became Nacton Heath High School, they could reflect on great memories, while others were just glad to leave their education behind.

However everybody was getting into the swing of things at a reunion for former pupils and teachers.

The event, which was held at Ransomes Sports and Social Club, Sidegate Avenue, on Saturday night > was organised by three former pupils, Margaret Collison, her daughter Claire, and Linda Denness, nee Cooper.

Two years ago they arranged a similar bash and it was such a success they decided to do it all again.

The age of the former pupils ranged from 27 to 65 – encompassing nearly 40 years of the school's history.

Many of the pupils looked at old photos and reflected on how much their friends had, or in other cases hadn't, changed over the years.

Others took the opportunity to get down on the dance floor to music by the band Re-Mix – comprising former pupils of the school.

Some met old flames and tried to remember why they had broken up, others confessed to two-timing during their childhood romances.

Tales of detentions, examinations, skipping classes and, in some quarters, the cane, filled the air as everybody thought back to their days in the classroom.

Among the guests was Isabella Vance, nee Stuteley, she finished her schooling in 1975 and in 1978 headed to America. This weekend was the first time she had seen her old classmates for more than 20 years.

She said: "I married a serviceman and moved to Michigan. I came back for a family reunion and fortunately it coincided with this event tonight.

"It's great to see so many old faces and it's surprising how little people have changed."

Her friend Karen Barroso, nee Snell, added: "Isabella has hardly changed, as soon as I saw her coming in I recognised her straight away."

Mrs Vance added: "Ipswich has changed a lot since I was last here, there are so many more buildings, it's completely different."

The oldest former pupil at the event was 65-year-old Maureen Mott, she was accompanied by her two daughters Julie Burke and Tina D'Arcey, both also former Nacton High pupils.

Mrs Mott said: "After I left school I had my family and I also formed the Priory Heath Ladies Club so I keep in touch with a lot of people."

Julie said: "I was a good girl at school, Tina was the one who was always in trouble."

The news came as a shock to Mrs Mott who said she had no idea that Tina was such a teenage tearaway.

Tina confirmed the rumours. She said: "I was a rebel at school and I still am. I didn't like school much I'm afraid and I was a bit naughty. I'm still a bit rebellious now, I like Marilyn Manson and I'm starting a band."

"I once got accused of throwing a hedgehog over the toilets when there was a girl in there – I never admitted it though."

She added: "I was never a fan of RE so I once tried to skive for 40 days, I think I managed 28."

Others at the bash included former deputy head teacher Mr (Ron) Barnett.

The 76-year-old worked at the school from 1958 to retirement in 1984. He had plenty of memories from his teaching days.

He said: "Some of the pupils here tonight have been arguing about whether I caned them or not.

"I enjoyed my time there and have many good memories."

Another former member of staff who put in an appearance was retired domestic science teacher Mottie Cochrane, she taught at the school for 36 years – from 1958 to 1994.

She said: "I remember a lot of the people here and they were generally a good bunch. Although I remember one of them emptying the washing machine that didn't have a bucket underneath."

Dave Wells, 32, was in a production of Oliver at Murrayfield Juniors in 1978, a photograph of the play was recently printed in the Star.

He said: "I was 5ft 11ins when I was at junior school so they put me in Fagan's gang. I didn't grow that much after that.

"I had a bit to drink at the last reunion so I can't remember much about so hopefully I will do tonight."

Claire Collison was very pleased with the event. She said: "It's been really good, most of the people are from my Mum's age group, but it has been an excellent night.

"My mum's a bit of an organiser so I get it from her, I think we'd like to something like this again."

Margaret echoed those sentiments, "A lot of people responded after seeing the piece in the paper. It's a good turnout and we will probably do another one."

Co-organiser Linda added: "A lot of us still keep in touch and see each other about it's a close knit community and it's always nice to catch up."

Not only was the reunion a chance to reminisce about old times but it was also an opportunity to raise some money for charity. All proceeds from the event are being donated to autistic Ipswich twins, Katie and Samuel Horsfield.

nIf you are organising a school reunion, let us know. Write to: Old School Ties, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starnews@ecng.co.uk

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