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Fishwick friends reunite after over 60 years

Posted on - 14th February, 2014 - 9:00am | Author - | Posted in - Fishwick, Nostalgia
Fishwick Secondary, 1952-53. Form 4B

Fishwick Secondary, 1952-53. Form 4B

They say old friendships never die; this is the case for seven ladies from Preston who have kept in touch after a reunion after leaving school over 60 years ago.

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The class of 19-5253 of Fishwick Secondary, form 4B, have successfully managed to get back in touch with each other and have become great friends after almost 63 years since leaving school.

They called themselves “The Magnificent Seven” which was made up of (Maiden names) ‘) Mavis Brooks, Barbara Austin, Stephanie Moon, Janice Rawlinson, Valerie Heaton, Margaret Almond, Joyce Beetham.

Janice said “I was close with Barbra, Valerie and Joyce; we were friends out of school as well as in class.”

Unfortunately for Janice, she left school a year later than her friends due to her birthday being at the very end of August.

In their school years, you could leave in the school holiday before your birthday, with Janice’s birthday being at the very end of august, she wasn’t allowed to leave.

Meaning her friends went off without her whilst she had to stay until the following Christmas, losing contact with many people along the way.

“It was a struggle in those days; I wasn’t allowed to leave so I couldn’t get a job to support my mother.”

Janice found a job at a high class dress shop Sharps, she worked there until she got married and was expecting children.

All the girls went off and started the rest of their lives, “you met up with a boy at 16, got a job and that was it. Keeping in touch with friends regular was extremely difficult”.

(Left to Right) Mavis Brooks, Barbara Austin, Stephanie Moon, Janice Rawlinson, Valerie Heaton, Margaret Almond, Joyce Beetham

(Left to Right) Mavis Brooks, Barbara Austin, Stephanie Moon, Janice Rawlinson, Valerie Heaton, Margaret Almond, Joyce Beetham

Janice saw the others vaguely, until the big reunion in 2009.

“I saw an advert in the Lancashire Evening Post in 2007 posted by David Hughlock (David was in the class) about a reunion for the class of Fishwick Secondary and thought – I know those names!”

“I rang the contact number and said who I was, David didn’t recognise me at first, it was amusing!”

Finding the others was hard work; Janice first went to find Barbra, whom she’d known the longest. Knowing Barbra had a B&B in Blackpool after living in Hong Kong for a number of years, Janice went to the electoral role in Blackpool and found where they lived.

“She was amazed I found her again and she was delighted. We found the others through other people after lots of phone calls.”

The first reunion was held at the Pig and Whistle on Blackpool Road where the seven girls went for lunch, they were not all close friends during their time at school, but the reunions changed things.

“We’ve all become good friends even though we were only acquaintances at school, its drawn us together, we’re all the same age, we all have stories to tell, and we’re interesting in each other”.

In 2011, Valerie wanted to do something different. Instead of going for lunch, she wanted the girls to go to the Cartmell Races, they hired a limousine and all went together.

“We really pushed the boat out with the race day, the day was wonderful we got bottles of champagne courtesy of the company and we supplied the rest, so we were very merry on the way home!”

Unfortunately, Valerie fell ill before they could go. So the ladies went in her honour, sadly Valerie passed away soon after.

“We did it a second and third time for the girl who never got to go, we will always remember Valerie – she was such a lively member of the group.”

The girls at the Carmell Races, 2011

The girls at the Carmell Races, 2011

During the Guild year, David Hughlock wanted a reunion for the whole class. They went to the Pig and Whistle again to celebrate the reunion.

“David and I did our best to get everyone together and turn up. It was a bit disappointing that the boys had not stayed in contact like the girls had, as the turnout had a lot more girls and boys”.

Janice’s neighbour, John Gilmore was very helpful and put the message out; he interviewed David about the reunion.

“It was a great turnout, an advert was put in the paper and it was a very good turnout”.

The girls kept together by meeting up 4 times a year, they return to the Pig and Whistle and talk about memories and their lives.

When the ladies meet around March, they try and organise something big for the summer. They then meet around September/October and then finally at Christmas were they have Christmas dinner together.

“We’re happy that the girls still keep in contact with each other, I’ve always been grateful for the friendship – a little hardship in life makes you appreciate the good things, which is what I have.

“Life is good; I’m happy and wouldn’t change a thing!”

This is a wonderful story about classmates who have become best friends after a lifetime of losing contact with each other.

After spending a life time apart, they ended up back together, and becoming the best of friends.

Through commitment and hard work, they were all able to form a friendship that will never be broken.

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