From David Hiles, Harrow:

ON Monday, October 12, former pupils from the class of 1950-57 of the old Newport County Grammar School [Node Hill] held a 70th anniversary reunion via Zoom.

More than a dozen participated joining from Vancouver Island, Canada; Malmo, Sweden; Honfleur, France; Adelaide and Sydney, Australia as well as Island residents and others from the UK.

I organised The Zoom from Harrow where I live with my wife Daphne from the class of 52-9.

We had hoped to have an actual reunion but age and current circumstances prevented this from happening.

The meeting was held with a sense of deja vu for in September 1950 much of the UK was in the grips of a polio epidemic and the Island particularly hard hit with many deaths and the Fairlea Isolation Hospital full.

Cinemas and of the places of indoor entertainment were closed and some travel restricted. Schools had an extended summer holiday not returning until mid September and then only half a class at a time for two weeks.

Village primary school split into mornings and afternoon while secondary schools operated on alternate days. We sat in alternate desks but still mixed in the playground and on the buses.

Over the past 30 years this group of pupils held regular reunions. The first major one was in May 1997 to celebrate 40 years after leaving school. It was organised at the Wheatsheaf in St Thomas’s Square by Jill Simson and the late David Cham.

In 2000 we ventured to Pihen les Guines near Calais to Jill’s home. Smaller reunions were held in Honfleur and in eastern Luxembourg as well as several on the Island.

In 2007, to mark the 50th anniversary a visit was arranged to our former school, then Nodehill Middle School. Several of these were reported with photographs in the County Press.

Like many Islanders, these pupils from the Fifties travelled and worked all over the world with varied and interesting careers. We have remained good friends and never miss an opportunity to relive the very happy days spent at Newport.

As we are all over 80 we have, as to be expected, lost several of our colleagues. We intend to keep in contact and have regular Zoom reunions and hope more of our friends will join in. Please contact me at david@thehiles.co.uk 020 8864 0787

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