Recollections !

March 2005

I managed to speak with a number of the class of 54 and establish contact points with some others. I established that some of the class was uninterested or unable to attend the reunion. These included: - Raymond Boyland, John Cane, Rodney Haskell, John Hill, Lawrence Hopkins, David Jarvis, Neil Lilley, David Singleton, Roger Taylor, and Bill White. Sadly, the names of John Adams, Peter Curtis, Chris Loader and Martin Lawrence were added to Ben Sowden who died whilst we were in 3rd form. Others who slipped the net totally are: - Stephen Crouch, Geoff Chandler, Clive Hodder, Christopher Stone, Paul Ward and Harold Williams, whilst: - Graham Bartlett, Richard Pinney, Clive Williams, Kevin Clancy and Ted Matthewson were either with us for the initial years or just the 6th form years.

The Saturday for me started in the best possible way as I, finally, had a long chat on the telephone with Bill White before I set out towards Ilminster. (Bill spent much of his time working in Holland.) On the walk to church, with my sister, we met up with Alan Board and Trevor Symes (Class of 53). The passing years had not been unkind and both were readily recognisable. They are both in the butchering trade and the conversation was soon about the problems being experienced by the small family butchers and the power of the supermarkets. As usual a large number of Old Boys, family and friends were standing outside the church renewing friendships and acquaintances before being greeted by the President of the Association John Mattravers (Class of 48 ) and George Maher. Here Patrick Chubb also joined us. (Pat had retained his youthful shape and was not readily recognised by myself.)

Rev.Wallace took the Church Service, which followed the long established format: - Hymn 'Thy hand, O God has guided'; -Lesson 'Corinthians Chapter 13'; - Hymn 'Immortal, invisible'; - Sermon; - Hymn 'And did those feet in ancient time' (Jerusalem). The churchwarden, Brian Gibson, had joined the teaching staff at the school just as we left. There were probably about 100 people in the Minster who sang with good voice to the accompaniment of the local organist. (Mr Gale, who taught at the school after we left, has now given up the opportunity of playing.) The weather was warm and sunny so after much further chatter outside the church the majority made their way up past Cross House and on to the Shrubbery Hotel for the lunch time gathering.

Stewart Shepherd (Class of 52) and his wife Liz are the owners of the Shrubbery Hotel. The Old Boys therefore are treated very well on these occasions (despite Stewart's protestations when the committee are in negotiation with him over the price for the day). At the AGM the secretary reported that 96 had attended the lunch.

The Association invites the wives of masters and representatives of the Old Girls Association to take lunch with us. Enid Sawyer plus Mair Cox, school secretary at the time of closure (and mother of Peter Cox (Class of 56)) were in attendance. As people started to move following the lunch, Malcolm Plaster ran a video of IGS Sports Days, 1961/62, made from film taken at the time by the then new master Tom Smith. This was of particular interest to me as it featured many of us in our final 6th form year. Whilst it was running Brian Willett & John Bower arrived. (If my memory serves me right Brian greeted both Jill Bond and Kath Betty, the Old Girls representatives, with much gusto!) I had meet with Brian several times at past reunions, but this was the first time of meeting John since 1959. Brian remains readily recognisable whilst John, like many of us, has taken to wearing glasses - see evening photo.

By this time the majority of people were starting to move on to do their own thing for the afternoon and we said our goodbyes to Alan. Brian & John said they would see if they could get entry to the old school, now used as a Junior school and Pat went to Chard. Soon it was time to get ready for the final part of the day, the AGM & Re-union Dinner.

At The Shrubbery, our year-group quickly formed and introductions were being made all round. Derek Gardner, Rodney Tanswell, Rodney Stroud, Mick Halligan, Denis Takle and Jeff Fear joined Brian, John, Pat and myself. With exception of Rod Stroud, Pat and John all had also attended the reunion in 1999 when it had been my time to be President of the association. Denis had already attended a lunchtime session, so his wife Jane decided to stay for the evening, joining some of the other wives in the restaurant, whilst waiting to drive him home much later! Over the past 10 years or so I have re-established links with Jeff and Denis through my interest in Point-to-Point racing. Mick lives in Taunton and, many years ago I had met up with him when I had watched rugby there. He had played for Chard along with myself and many other old boys from around our time.

The AGM followed usual format of reports from the officers, details of the finances and election of new officers. Brian Neath (a border from Class of 45) was elected President and David Brister (Class of 50) the Vice President. The date of the reunion in 2005 will be 9th July. A discussion also took place on a number of proposals for the 75th anniversary of the Association that will be held in 2007. After the AGM Doug (brother of Rodney) Haskell was in the bar enjoying a drink. He did not stay for the dinner, but I believe I heard it said that Rod was living in Milton Keynes or High Wycombe and that he may be about to emigrate!

A total of 72, including representatives from the Chard and Crewkerne Schools Old Boys and the guest speaker, eventually sat down for the dinner. The meal followed the established menu of: - Hors d'oeuvres; Vegetable Soup; Roast Beef with the trimmings; Apple Pie & Custard; Cheese Board and Coffee. As the meal progressed the toastmaster, Stewart Shepherd, asked the representatives of each year to stand and be recognised. With a total of 10 present our year was by far the largest.

After the completion of the meal Richard Brook, who had been educated at Huish's Grammar School in Taunton and joined the Somerset Police Force as a ca det on leaving school, then entertained us. He had done the rounds of local police stations, working his way up the promotion ladder, and became the local Task Force Sergeant in Taunton. He was eventually promoted to Superintendent and Divisional Commande r of the Yeovil Division before he retired. He recounted many murky tales of his time policing Taunton and Bridgwater and how he was drafted up north during the Miners/ Thatcher/ Scargill troubles and when working in Bristol was responsible for trying to keep opposing football team supporters from tearing each other apart.

In responding and proposing the toast to 'The Guests and Association' the new President Brian Neath recounted many stories of his life and times at the school and especially of life as a border at Cross House. The formal proceedings must have ended about 11.00 and all our Class got together for a group photograph. The remainder of the evening was spent in small groups, recalling times of yester-year, people finally drifting away as wives, daughters, taxis etc called them. I think it must have been way past 12.30 when I took my leave.

A month later I received an email from Roger Taylor explaining that he had moved from his last known address and that he was keen to meet some time in the future. Also note on 'Friends Reunited' is this information on Christopher Stone 'owner of 3 music companies related to the film and advertising industries. Living outside Toronto, Ontario, Canada'.

I have some regrets that during the evening I maybe did not spend as much time as I could have with my classmates! However, I think that friendships have been rekindled and people will hopefully give consideration to attendance at future reunions.

- Richard Parkhouse

Apologies to anyone who has been, or think that they may have been misquoted, misrepresented or in any other way defamed, as any such errors are unintentional. (Highlights of the Class of '54, plus those of a more general nature have been selected from a longer account written by Richard Parkhouse. The 2004 Re-union of the Old Ilminsterians Association was of course special to the Class of '54 - their 50th anniversary of entry to Ilminster Grammar School. Richard, being a member of this Class, started planning their reunion back in 1998 in the lead up to his year as President of the Association.)

The Old Ilminsterians Lunch 2004 - photo by RP

The Class of '54 attending the dinner - photo by RP


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