VIDEO: Friends reunited after more than 70 years

An extraordinary school reunion saw more than 50 ex-pupils come together and reminisce about days gone by that took place up to 80 years ago.

The Ashington Primary School reunion, held for past pupils aged 60-plus, took place on Friday, July 26, at the Red Lion Pub in Ashington.

JPCT 26-713 S13310381x Red Lion, Ashington Primary School 60+ reunion  -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 26-713 S13310381x Red Lion, Ashington Primary School 60+ reunion -photo by Steve Cobb

Old friends reacquainted and shared stories of the two classroom premises that were originally located in Rectory Lane.

Classmates gathered around a small table of black and white pictures that many attendees had brought in, hoping to find long-lost friends after all these years.

Basil Richards, 87, sat down with old classmate Tom Borchin after 71 years.

He said: “I’ve just met Tom - the last time I saw him was in 1942 when we left for the war.

JPCT 26-713 S13310314x Red Lion, Ashington Primary School 60+ reunion  -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 26-713 S13310314x Red Lion, Ashington Primary School 60+ reunion -photo by Steve Cobb

“I’m pleased to be here and see these people after all this time. I never thought it 
would happen.”

Another ex-pupil, Margaret Linfield, 84, was part of Harris’ Funfair, a family business that stems back over a century.

“I went to the school in 1935 and my teacher was Mrs Whey,” she said.

“I remember Basil - he was older than me, but his brother Phil was in my class.

JPCT 26-713 S13310284x Red Lion, Ashington Primary School 60+ reunion  -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 26-713 S13310284x Red Lion, Ashington Primary School 60+ reunion -photo by Steve Cobb

“I loved going there.”

Daphne Paris went to the school with her future husband, but was not introduced to him until she was 14.

“My husband and I went to the school, but I didn’t meet him officially until I was a teenager on Valentine’s Day,” the 82-year-old said.

Former villager Bill Butcher flew over from his home in California to catch up with old friends.

He said: “It’s wonderful to be back.

“I remember it as a two-room school in 1945. The headteacher Miss Foster was the salt of the Earth, we probably didn’t appreciate her at the time though.”

Another former pupil remembers the headteacher as a more authoritarian presence in the school.

Les Golds, who started at the school in 1937, said he had mixed feelings about Miss Foster. I don’t think she liked me, but I may have been a bit naughty,” Les admitted.

“I remember I hung around in the morning to pick wild flowers, and by the time I got to school everyone was already inside.

“I believe I got the ‘wacker’ for being late, and I remember thinking: ‘That’s great, I pick lovely flowers and I get the cane’.”

Richard Crofts, 62, was not fond of one of his teachers either. He said she administered the cane to him after he and his friend were late for class in the 1960s.

Vivienne Ayres who attended the school in the same year as Richard remembers her grandmother as the school caretaker.

“She used to stoke the fires with coke (it was a coke boiler back then).”

Vivienne’s mother, Linda Nicholson, was also a pupil in 1947.

“I didn’t find it weird having my mother as the caretaker. She had to clean the whole school after hours and I would have to wait around for her.”

The oldest ex-pupil to attend the big reunion, Mary Elizabeth Farrell, joined the school around 1924.

“I wasn’t going to come originally, but my son dragged me along because he used to go here. I know only a few people here,” the 94-year-old said.

“I’m glad I came in the end.”

Incredibly pulled together by event organiser and former pupil Brenda Edginton, the reunion was a big hit and to Brenda’s knowledge has never been achieved before.

“I’m so excited. It’s wonderful to see all these people meet up after all these years - I’m touched.”