Andy Shepherd, 1960s

St. Kenelm's C.E. Primary School, Romsley
Centenary celebrations
1915 - 2015

Memories of Mr Andy Shepherd - Pupil - 1960s onwards

I started at St Kenelm's School in January 1964 when I was 7 years-old. Of the four houses, I was put into Blue (the others being Red, Green and Yellow). There were four classes in the school then – three in the newly built part and one of the original old ones in the school hall, which was partitioned off by a concertina door.

My first class was Class 2 (Class 1 was for the eldest children) with Mrs Olive Sole, a lovely lady who lived in Eastleigh Drive. We were in the biggest classroom upstairs which was great as it had windows on both sides. My desk was by the window on the side that over-looked the main road. I see from my school report that there were over 40 children in the class.

Highlights were:

  • One morning seeing all the diggers and workmen arrive to build the new drive and gate-way. Up until then the only gate was the old one where Mrs Cooper, the lollipop lady who lived in the house next to the school, would stand every day.
  • One morning hearing a number of explosions which we were told was the disused railway viaduct at Hunnington being demolished.
  • The excitement after one summer holiday when we came back to school to find all these wonderful wall bars and gym equipment which had been installed during the break.
  • Listening to the big wooden radio on a Monday morning to take part in the school programme 'Singing Together'
  • The annual sports day with Reverend Copley always cheating in the parents sack-race.
  • Being first by the door at morning break time, to lead everyone into the playground, as everyone had their miniature bottle of milk to drink first before going out, but I couldn't drink milk.

School Dinner

Now when I was young milk and custard always caused a problem as I could never keep them down. There was nothing I could do about it, it was a reflex-action and they would always come straight back. One day at school dinners, eating at those 6-sided tables, the pudding was egg custard. The dinner ladies were lovely but there was lady who was very strict and a bit scary. She insisted that I eat my pudding telling me that egg custard was different to normal custard so it would be alright. Well, I took a spoonful and you can imagine what happened - I don't want to go into the unpleasant details – but of the six children sat around the table I was the only one who didn't end up with a bit of that egg custard.

Later on I would walk home to Dark Lane for dinner, probably to the relief of the dinner ladies.

Fancy Dress

I later moved up into Class 1 with Miss Davies, who lived with Miss Grey the head-mistress, in the house just below the school where Ivy Hamblett lives now. When they retired, Mr Ruddick became Head-teacher. (I think my teacher was Miss Pearce ?).

With the arrival of Mr Ruddick, the school held a Summer Fete with a Fancy Dress Competition. I entered the competition dressed in a stripy jumper, eye-mask, carrying a sack with railway carriages and pieces of railway track sticking out. Under my arm a giant toy steam engine .... Yes! I was a Great Train Robber. And I still have the tin of Blue Bird sweets that I won on that day, thrilled as it was the first time I'd won anything.

Gypsy Moth IV

In 1967 we were all enthralled by Sir Francis Chichester as he made the first single-handed circumnavigation of the globe in his yacht Gypsy Moth IV. We crowded into the hall to watch the new television that the school had bought, to watch him as he arrived home.

We used to have a wood-working class and I made a model of Gypsy Moth IV. I suggested to Mr Ruddick that the school hold a model-making competition for the best model yachts in this class, and this simply took off with all the classes taking part with a big display of yachts in the Entrance Hall.

Unfortunately on the day that the Evening Mail came to take a photograph, I'd been taken to the dentist for an emergency treatment. (Newspaper item)

Eclipse of the Sun

One of the things that stayed with me for many years was Mrs Sole telling us about the total eclipse of the sun that she had seen as a child in Yorkshire in 1927 and telling us that the next one would take place on 11th August 1999 in the West Country. For the next 35 years that date stuck in my head and I was determined to see it. Sure enough on 11th August 1999 I was standing on a hill in Devon with family watching the clouds getting darker, popping a champagne cork and toasting Mrs Sole.

Due to the clouds I never saw the sun disappear and it's still my ambition to see a total eclipse, hopefully in the USA in 2017 – 52 years after Mrs Sole first told me all about them. Teachers should never under-estimate the affect that can have on a child throughout their lives.

 

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