Back Together Again After 60 Years
The Old Woodbridgian Senior Alumni Lunch began in 2018 and is aimed at students of Woodbridge School who left 50 years ago or more. Coming together at least once each year with around 100 guests attending, some of the oldest guests were at School during World War II, and so have fascinating tales and memories to share, as do all the alumni who were at School during the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.
This year, a group of 25 of these Old Woodbridgians and their partners were back at School on Saturday 1 April, to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary of their departure all those years ago as The Woodbridge School Class of ‘63 came together again. Having first met when they were all just 11 years old in 1956, there were 43 boys in the year group journeying through their secondary education together over the following seven years. OWs Christopher Buisseret and Kenneth Bailey have worked with Woodbridge School’s Samantha James from the Alumni Office to organise the event, tracking down as many of their former classmates as possible.
Kenneth Bailey commented, “I absolutely loved my time at Woodbridge School and Chris Buisseret and I both felt that as we all were fast approaching 80 years of age, now was the right time to meet up again with as many of our former classmates as possible. In the intervening years they have enjoyed a huge variety of fascinating careers including Airline Pilots, Director of Operations, HR Manager, Prison Governor, Playwright, HM Customs Officer, Army Helicopter Pilot, Transport Manager, Police Inspector, Area Sales Director, Senior Government Adviser, Civil Engineering Director to list but a few.” He continued, “Some of us have kept in touch over the years and others were reunited by fate, such as when Chris Buisseret and Richard Howe bumped into each other quite by chance in the lounge of an hotel in Ivory Coast, West Africa! Surely, this reunion is meant to happen and it promises to be a hugely enjoyable and emotional event.”
The soundtrack of some of those years was from a new, young band of scousers called The Beatles plus, of course, Elvis, Cliff and Eddie Cochran. There was a new film out about a spy called Bond, James Bond and the papers were full of the Court Case over Lady Chatterley’s Lover and the Profumo affair with Christine Keeler. These were the Swinging Sixties – what a decade to be a teenager! Some left in 1961 and 1962, but most finally severed their ties with their wonderful schooldays in the warm July of 1963 – 60 years ago.
Some of this Diamond Anniversary’s guests travelled from as far as Scotland, France, Cameroon and the Cayman Islands, joining those who live more local to the School; it was an anticipated and very much looked forward to event. Arriving at School with wives, partners and/or children, guests had time for a coffee and catch-up before listening to a talk entitled A Schoolboy’s History of Woodbridge from former Woodbridge School teacher Mark Mitchels, who began teaching at the School in 1969 so some of the guests were his former students.
Lunch was served and enjoyed in the School dining room, where friends were reunited and enjoyed reminiscing, introducing one another’s relatives and recalling lunches of the past! Guests took the opportunity to then tour and see the School as it is today, very much different of course from how it was in 1963.
Recognising the importance of this and all other alumni events, Shona Norman Head of Woodbridge School said, “Our School community is made up of students from past and present, something we appreciate very much since it offers the opportunity to continue to share our lives, our stories and our journeys throughout and beyond life at Woodbridge School. Our OWs are exceptional role models for our current students and are able to offer them invaluable support and advice, for which we are incredibly grateful.”
Beyond this Diamond Anniversary luncheon, The Senior Alumni Lunch continues today with around 100 guests each year, and this year welcomes the Class of 1973 to the Old Woodbridgian Half Century Club as they celebrate 50 years since they left Woodbridge School.