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A chance remark leads to Penwortham Priory Academy 70 year reunion

Posted on - 15th July, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Education, History, Nostalgia, Penwortham, People, Preston Locations, Preston News, Schools, South Ribble News

A chance comment by one of Penwortham Priory Academy’s Class of 1953 led to a fantastic 70 year reunion in the school’s Rose Garden. 

Priory’s first head girl Sonia Ward asked her daughter Josephine Tingle, when she said she was playing badminton at Priory two years ago, if she could see if Sonia’s photograph was still on the wall. 

This led to some investigation, contact with the school and finally a reunion of a Class of 53 to mark a historic 70 years of Priory. 

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“It’s amazing all this happened because of one comment,” said Josephine. “When I said I was playing badminton at Priory, mum asked if her picture was still up in the hallway. 

“This led to us asking the school, them finding memorabilia which was under the stage, our family digging out our own photographs and then mum coming into school.” 

The school did an article on this, which ended up in the Lancashire Evening Post, and Sonia mentioned Head Boy Roy Rich. He got in touch with the school and the rest, as they say, is history! 

Six of that original class of 1953, then Penwortham Secondary Modern School, came into Priory and it brought back memories of their school days. 

Now in their 80s, they loved returning to the place where they are a big part of the history. 

Phyllis Tattersall, who became an embroideress, said: “It is a bit strange coming back, I think I have only been back once before. It doesn’t look the same at all! 

“I remember sewing lessons and cooking. It’s exciting to be back.” 

Barbara Coombes admitted she remembered going for a dance with Roy Rich ‘back in the day.’ 

“It’s lovely to be here. It’s the first time I have seen Roy in a long time, we used to go dancing together! 

“What I found really strange is I used to cut through the woods to come to school. You can’t do it now as there is all fencing around the school. I had to walk the long way around today! 

“I used to love French with Miss Pickup. I left school at 15 and worked in textiles before I had children and now I have grandchildren. Sonia and I were bosom buddies at school and we used to live next door to each other but we haven’t seen each other for a while.” 

4 elderley, caucasian people - 2 men and 2 women - inside holding an old school blazer
Penwortham Priory Academy looking at Class of 53 old uniform

Roy brought in his Paris pack from a school trip, including what was then his passport. 

“I remember going all the way to France and back and we didn’t have to show it once,” he laughed. 

Cliff Philipson said: “Coming back recalls happy times, we were the first intake so it was a brand new school. 

“I remember there were two tennis courts and I was a prefect and librarian.” 

Cliff, who went on to be a Rep for three firms, one being HP Sauce, brought his school report which described him as ‘quiet but efficient’ and said he ‘stuck to a job and saw it through.’ 

Mayor of Penwortham Cllr Ian Watkinson said: “It’s great to be here. The reputation of Priory is first class. It’s been brilliant looking at the old memorabilia – I was reading the punishment book to see if I knew anyone! It’s been great to see all this history.” 

Headteacher Matt Eastham said: “It’s wonderful to celebrate 70 years of Priory – Priory has been serving the local community since 1953 and that’s a great achievement. 

“It’s been lovely seeing people sharing stories and looking at the memorabilia.” 

A rose was planted in the Rose Garden by the Class of 1953 – it was an ‘Anniversary Rose’ selected by gardener Chris Farron. 

“As long as the school is here, the rose and the plaque to go with it will be here,” said Mr Eastham.

Read more: The medieval origins of Preston, later a Royal Borough

There was also a time capsule unveiled, which consisted of, among other items, the Headmaster’s Log from 1953, photographs from various groups through the ages, the front page of the Lancashire Evening Post from 29th June 2023 and drone photographs of the school. 

This was unveiled by Lead Geography teacher Andy Watters who will leave Priory this month after 29 years at the school

Former teachers and staff at Priory also attended the 70th celebration as well as a presentation to Andy for all his years at Priory. 

There were also tours around the school for past pupils are more 70th anniversary events planned this year. 

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

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