Bright spark boys who predicted the rise of solar energy

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Think of 1974 and one of the first things which comes to mind is Swedish pop group Abba bursting onto the music scene in the cheesiest way possible.

There was more to that year, however, than the Eurovision Song Contest and the birth of some of the best music and worst fashion to ever find its way out of Scandinavia.

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It also saw the return to Earth of the crew of Skylab 4, who had spent a record 84 days in orbit; the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang was discovered at Xi’an, China;

Horror legend Stephen King published his first novel, Carrie; and Muhammad Ali knocked out George Foreman in eight rounds to regain the heavyweight title during the Rumble in the Jungle.

And over in Southbourne, a group of nine forward-thinking lads built a solar heating unit in their headmaster’s garden – accurately predicting it would be the kind of technology widely used in the future.

The boys were in their final year at Bourne Comprehensive School; and the idea for the heating unit was dreamed up by headmaster Mr C Besley during that year’s fuel crisis.

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Made of mirrors surrounding a glass-lidded black box, the contraption heated the water to 140F.

The students were: Ian Hedges, Gary Arnell, Ronnie Richardson, Kevin Brockway, Philip Ware, Colin Robinson, David Aburrow, Peter Samways and Gary Wilton.

While the boys of Bourne were coming up with new technology, over in Midhurst children and grown-ups were using an old idea to raise money for a good cause.

A static bicycle was set up and people donated money to the Save The Children Fund before attempting to cycle the fastest mile.

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The winners in the 16 and over age group were: Sue Stone and Christopher Elms. Jeanette Lee and David Peter won the 12-16 category, and Caroline Pierce and Adrian Lambert won the 11 and under category.

Midhurst Primary School also had a successful fundraising year, with their fete raising £130.

As well as the usual coconut shy and apple bobbing, the children competed in an afternoon of fancy dress and races – which proved to be rather successful for a little girl named Claire Norris.

She came second in the egg and spoon race, first in the sack race, second in the ball and bucket race and teamed up with Pat Turner to come second in the three-legged race.

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Not a bad afternoon’s work!

While pleased with their fundraising success, the children of Midhurst Primary faced a sadder task when they said goodbye to one of their dinner ladies.

Marjory Bishop, who had worked in the school canteen for 19 years was given cards and presents as she took her retirement.

Our final two photos show a rather unusual plant and the dedication of a Brownie pennant.

The plant – a semi-tropical variety which attracts bees and can usually only be grown in a hot-house – was doing blooming well in the garden of 76-year-old Ernest Madgewick, of St Mary’s Road.

As for the Brownies. They were from the 2nd Easebourne, and the pennant was dedicated by the Rev P Kimber at the Midhurst Methodist Church.

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