Alumnus Joe Loughran (1969-72) manages an email and Facebook group for Simmarians from the 60s and 70s, with regular news, photos and invitations to socials.
If you’d like to be included in this group, please contact Joe at email@example.com
Since we last spoke there has been a 50th reunion at St Mary’s which had a great turnout and which you can read all about on our own Simms Group Facebook page. The whole point of these reunions is that they allow old friends to meet again and reconnect with each other after many years in the wilderness!
And that’s what I want to talk to you about this month…connections.
When I started this group back in 2012, I was hoping that it would be a vehicle to let old friends find each other again after the many years that have passed since we were studying together. The new-fangled technologies of computers and the internet seemed to make that possible and sure enough, with email and Facebook we started to track down long lost friends and colleagues.
Over the years I have encouraged people to use the group to look for old friends and you will have seen my requests for help going out from time to time, usually with a good deal of success. Another route to success has been the growth of the group. As we have developed, we have attracted more people from all over the world, which has given us a larger database to work with.
Now, the point I want to emphasise about connections is that despite how many successes I am able to pass on to you, many, many more connections are being made between old friends that we as a group don’t hear about. If you want evidence of that you only need to visit our FB page and read through the postings to see old friends discovering each other again and again.
And now that our London meetings are well established and attended, new and old friends pop up all the time. Our recently started Manchester group is also coming along well and at the recent reunion at college it was suggested that we should start a south west group, possibly meeting in Bristol. More on that to come.
So, if you are reading this article and would like to find your old college friends, why not join our email contact group or our Facebook page and start reconnecting!
And on that note, I have included below some requests for old friends from those days. If you can help with any of them, please respond directly or through me.
Malcolm Mair (74-77) is looking for an old friend, Maureen Carr, who studied drama from 1975-78.
Chris Fitzpatrick (73-76) is looking for David Midlane (73-76). The last time he saw him was at his wedding in the early 80s.
And finally, an interesting request from across the water.
Our group from all over the United States studied drama through The Foreign Study League Summer Program at St. Mary’s College in 1969. This year is our 50th reunion year and we are attempting to contact students, American professors, and chaperones, as well as our British hosts and professors who took part in our summer program. The British host that ran our program was Roger Lane. His counterpart was a Father Brown from Boston, Massachusetts in the States.
Would you have any information on Roger Lane or others who made our stay so memorable?
Any help you might give with our efforts to contact anyone connected with that year’s summer study program would be much appreciated.
Mrs. Meleny N. Rehr
See you all next month.
How are you all?
This month I want to talk to you about reunions. The college is changing the way it offers and supports alumni reunions. With effect from next year they are putting on an annual alumni weekend for all past students. Below is how they announced this on the college website last month.
“We are delighted to announce the introduction of the St Mary’s Annual Alumni Weekend, when the whole campus, including accommodation, will be set aside for St Mary’s alumni, to reconnect with friends and celebrate their time at St Mary’s.
The first Alumni Weekend will take place on Friday 19th June to Sunday 21st June 2020, when we will celebrate 170 years of St Mary’s. All alumni are invited to attend the weekend, and there will be special events within the weekend for those celebrating significant anniversaries e.g. 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50+ years since graduation. We plan to organise a range of other activities too, such as opportunities to tour the University, sports fixtures and lectures, and there will be Mass on the Sunday.”
I was aware this was being planned and think it is a great idea. It allows us to get back to St Mary’s and touch base with old friends without having to organise the whole thing ourselves each time! However, one of my concerns about this format was how to ensure people from different year groups could find and spend time with each other and during conversations with the college they agreed that there will be nominated areas put aside to allow students from different time periods to find each other and reconnect.
Between now and then there are 3 reunions which relate to our group as below:
50th Reunion – For those who started college in 1969 or were there between 1967 and 1974. Over the weekend on 30th August to 1st September 2019 throughout the college.
50th Reunion – For the first co-ed students at Simms between 1966 and 1969. On Saturday 7th September 2019 in the Waldegrave Ballroom.
45th Anniversary – For anyone who was at the college between 1970 and 1978. Over the weekend 12th to 14th June 2020
You can book your slot for any of 2019 gatherings by clicking on this link.
Back in March Mick Byrnes (67-70) sent me this picture taken at Strawberry Fair in 1970. He tells me the suspects are:
Back row L-R Julian Reynolds sister; Julian Reynolds: Marie-Anne Anderson; Lou the barman; John Quinn; Les Collins; Mick Casserly;
Front row L-R Reg the bar steward; Dave Sparrey; John O'Brien; Pauline Wallace; Pat?
I came across this cartoon about our generation the other day and I thought some of you might appreciate it!
Til next time
How do you like this month’s picture? How many of you can identify where it is and what shops and pubs you can see? I know some of you used to live in the flats above the shops here and I know that because I remember going to parties there and climbing out onto the roof space above the shops for a dance. (Didn’t we all!)
Since we last spoke, I am pleased to tell you that our group membership has now passed the 800 mark, and our Facebook group is growing every month. Both of which have inspired interest from other people within the alumni family. This past month I have been working with a student from the 1980s who wanted to create a similar group for his time at college and has now set up the “1980s Simmarians” Facebook group. It is off to a flying start with almost 200 members already! There are also moves afoot to set up a group for the 1990s intake, but that is in its infancy at present. I’ll keep you posted on its development.
50th Reunion Celebrations
We have now almost completed our planning for this which is taking place at the end of August, and as word is spreading, I am increasingly getting asked to confirm the dates. So, get your diaries out and put this weekend in there while you’re thinking about it.
FRIDAY 30TH AUGUST – SUNDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER
Whilst it is 50 years since the 1969 intake started college, it is meant to be a celebration of the whole era and those of you who were at college from (say) 1967 to 1974 are most welcome to come along. There’s lots going on and some surprises, so if you think you might be interested visit the alumni page of the college website in a week or so and book your place and, of course, there will be lots more information about it on FB and through the email group as it gets nearer.
Bernard Jarvis (61-64) was wondering, via our FB page, if there were any photos out there of the college in the 60s. Now it’s true that photography was not very widespread then and the Polaroid camera didn’t come out in the format we all recognise until 1972, but I’m sure there are memory boxes and photo albums out there that have wonderful shots of the college and old friends hidden away in them. And now we can scan documents in as well you can share old letters and stuff with us. Below are the pics Bernard sent me and selection of other shots posted on our FB page and it would be really great if those of you who have stuff like this lying around could share it with us. You can either post it on our group Facebook page or send it to me and I’ll make sure it gets published.
Anne and John O’Connor (nee Hunter of Maria Grey College), Maureen Jarvis (nee Barrett) of Maria Grey and Bernard Jarvis. 1961-1964.
Chris Boyle with Ann (nee O’Neil) Digby Stewart College and Bernard Jarvis. 1961-64.
See you all next month.
How do you like this month’s photo? As you can see Paul Warburton sent me this picture of his old College Meal Book (sorry Permit!) together with tales of the black-market trade in them, which I knew nothing about at the time. If any of you have pics like this and stories from the days of the Refectory, please send them in to me or post them on our Facebook Page so we can all enjoy them. I remember the struggles we had during TP to fit breakfast in and still get to school on time and then making sure we got back in time for our evening meal!
Now, onward. As I mentioned last month, I am in the middle of updating our contact list and I know that there are loads of you out there who receive this eNews but are not on there. If you think you might like to join us why not send me an email soon so I can include you in the update.
I am also making progress with our efforts to set up an Irish get together as per the London and Manchester ones. More on that next month.
I have been asked several times about helping to connect those of you who live in the antipodes. Now, before you point out the obvious, I appreciate that it’s a little bigger than the UK so meeting in a local pub might not be on, but it’s been my experience, that there are enough of you out there to at least make a stab at putting you in touch with each other. If you are reading this and live down under why not send me an email and I’ll start one of my lists!
Yet another success. This meeting is going from strength to strength, especially since we changed the day from Friday to Tuesday. This time there was another group already at the front of the upstairs bar. They turned out to be a load of retired railway engineers having their half yearly reunion in the area we usually occupy, so space was limited and somewhat cramped for a while, which led to a good deal of banter between us and since we well outnumbered them, at one point they offered to sell us their table for a fee! etc, etc.
I took this opportunity to speak to the landlord again about reserving space for us. Some years ago, I raised this issue with him, and he told me then that he doesn’t take reservations from anyone because it’s too difficult to manage in a busy central pub like this. However he was aware of our group and the length of time we have been going there so he has agreed that for us he will make an exception and reserve a number of tables in our usual spot on the days we chose to hold our gatherings, which is really great news.
I have attached some pics click here for those who couldn’t make it, but to be honest we were having such a good time that remembering to take photos was very much a sudden afterthought at the end of the day, when some of us had already had to get off and the pub was quieter, and look, Torchy did turn up eventually (in joke!) As usual there were old friends there and some new faces, but it was much appreciated by everyone and we are already looking forward to the next one on in July or August.
This was only the third meeting of this group, so it is still establishing itself, and due to the relatively short notice we gave for the date it was not as well attended as we would have liked, but some early meetings at The Chandos were on a similar scale and look at those now. We still had a great time with members coming from as far away as Liverpool and Hull. Some pictures were taken but they have not yet arrived in my inbox so I can’t pass them on at the moment. I’ll do so as soon as I have them. We had to compete with a plane load of disgruntled passenger who had been bussed back from Manchester Airport for a free lunch and stopover due to a problem with their flight, but there is plenty of space in this hotel, so it wasn’t a problem. Our next meeting here will also be around July or August and I promise to give more notice for this one to allow you all to plan for it little better.
In the February update I posted a picture of the 1973 Rag Week Team. Well, since then I have come across the document on the left which seems to list the suspects in that picture (copied below). The committee certainly managed to persuade an impressive set of celebrities to get involved! I was one of the minions helping with Rag Week around 1970 and one of my fondest memories is of a gang of us driving off after dark in a Morris Minor with rag week posters, buckets of paste and brushes to stick them all over other Teacher Training Colleges.
I remember invading Digby Stuart, Southlands and Goldsmiths in the dead of the night and daubing our posters in as many embarrassing places as we could find before being discovered and then laughing all the way back home. They, of course, returned the favour when it was their rag week.
See you next month
This month’s picture was taken at one of the regular Friday night discos in the Old Bar in the early 70’s, and yours truly is the dashing guy in the waistcoat, bustin’ some groovy moves!! Now, this is not a random photo from my collection of old college shots, I’ve put it here to highlight one of the treats of the forthcoming 50th Anniversary Reunion this August. Mick Greenwood, the regular DJ at that time has agreed to recreate what you see above for us in the University bar on the Friday night. He tells me he still has all his records and is already working on a set list. Maybe nearer the time we’ll put a call out for some suggestion.
Contact List Update
As you can see above, the membership of both our email and Facebook groups continues to rise, so it’s probably time for an update. We have attracted over 100 new people since I issued the last one, none of whom will appear on the list you currently have. If we give it a week or so to allow for the new members this month’s eNews will generate to come on board, and for me to organise them into their year groups, you can look forward to a new list coming to an inbox near you shortly after that. If you are not yet a member of either of these groups just drop me a line and I’ll fix it.
Group Get Togethers
Below are the details of our Easter meetings in Manchester and London, which are on the 5th and 9th of April respectively. I apologise for the short notice, but we only settled on these dates earlier in March and this is the earliest eNews we could put them in. I hope it still gives some of you time to slot us into your diary.
This will be the third meeting of this group and as before will be held at The Mercure Piccadilly Hotel at Piccadilly Gardens in the centre of town. The date is Friday the 5th April and we aim to get there around 12 noon, which allows people to travel there and back in a day. We meet in the Brasserie bar on the 3rd floor. It should be easy to spot a bunch of old folks having a laugh, but in case you can’t, there will be a sign on one of the tables to help you recognise us.
This gathering will be on Tuesday the 9th April at our usual venue, The Chandos pub off Trafalgar Square at 12 noon. We have traditionally held this meeting on a Friday, but last time we thought we’d try a different day, so we picked a Tuesday, and the turnout was much improved……so were sticking with Tuesday for the moment. If you’re thinking of coming along, make your way to the front of the upstairs bar which is where we tend to settle. There will be a sign on one of the tables to help you pin us down. If your already on the email list you’ll be hearing more details as we get closer, and if you’re not, write to me and I’ll sign you up pronto!
Irish Get Together
Last month there was a very successful reunion at Croke Park in Dublin for ex Simmarians living in Ireland. Some of our members who attended have been in touch suggesting we investigate the possibility of setting up an Irish version of the London and Manchester meetings which we hold three times a year. That sounds good to me and we will be talking to the college and others about the best way to organise this. If you think such a group might be of interest to you, it would help us greatly if you could drop me firstname.lastname@example.org or the Alumni dept alumni@stmary’s.ac.uk an email expressing your interest and ideas so we can start to get a feeling for numbers. We are thinking of trying to arrange something this summer around the same time that we hold the London and Manchester events. Watch this space for more news next month.
1969 50th Reunion Celebration
This September it will be 50 years since some of us started at St Mary’s in 1969 and, as you may already be aware, we are planning a big reunion celebration at the college over the weekend of Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September. This event is not restricted to those who started that year and if you were at college from (say) 1966 to 1975 you will be more than welcome to come along as well. We are still in the early planning stages but to whet your appetite, here are a few things we have already agreed on.
Many of you will remember Mick Greenwood who was the resident DJ for the discos in the Old Bar. He has kindly agreed to recreate that Friday night feeling for us in the Uni bar on the first night of the reunion. He tells me he still has all his records and is putting together a set list just like he used to play back in the day. We are also planning a Photo Wall for you to post pictures of what you looked like back then!! And there might be a quiz in the Café bar in the afternoon based around those halcyon days. There will, of course, be a dinner in the Waldegrave Ballroom on Saturday night and accommodation for the weekend has been put aside in the halls of residence. For those of you who want to recreate the true feelings of college days we have been able to secure 15 twin rooms in “The Girls Hostels” on Waldegrave Park, which are on a first come first served basis. There is a lot more to organise and if you are interested in coming along please visit their Events and Reunions page where you will find more details and options for you to register your interest. Look out for more information as the months pass.
Earlier this month I received a message from Jenny Evans about her husband David who was a student at St Mary’s in the 60’s. Her son, who also went to Simms, read about our group in The Simmarian and showed it to his Mum who decided to share the following article about David with us.
Hello Joe. My son showed me an article in The Simmarian about the 60’s and & 70’s Facebook group, and I thought some of the members might like news of my late husband David Evans, if they remember him. David was at St Mary’s from 1965 to 1969. He was very involved with the NUS at that time, and after qualifying, taught for a year at St John’s Beaumont in Old Windsor, before the NUT came calling for him full time.
After that he moved onto the banking union where he spent the rest of his working life and did a brilliant job. David had to retire early because of heart problems, but we still couldn’t stop him being a workaholic, except he now did it for free! He became a magistrate, a labour councillor, a rugby referee assessor, a secondary school governor, an FE college governor and was Chair of Governors at a primary school for 11 years, among others. Unfortunately, in July 2012, after a busy day in court, he suffered a massive stoke, which he survived against all the odds. We were so lucky that he retained his speech and his ability to eat and drink but was paralysed for the rest of his life and spent almost 6 years in his specialised bed or wheelchair. He passed away on 24th June 2018 having amazed all the doctors with his resilience. Whilst he was at St Mary’s he was close friends with Ann Towndrow and stayed in touch with her family for many years. When our son Dafydd was offered a place at Simms to do Sports Science and Business Management in 2004 he was over the moon, and we spent many happy weekends back in the Twickenham area. I hope this message is of interest to you. David was so fond of his time at Simms.
Jenny Evans. x
I asked Jenny if she had a picture of David and she sent me the two shots you see here. She says of these, “Both of these pictures are probably 7 or 8 years after college, but David was always behind the camera. The picture with the statuettes illustrates two of his great passions, rugby and all things welsh. David spent a lot of Saturdays at London Welsh and our son played for them in his early teenage years and his first year at Simms. He also arranged 3 or 4 concerts by the London Welsh Choir while we still lived in Surrey”.
If you remember David and maybe, have some photos of him, it would be great if you could go to our FB page, where I have also posted this article, and add your memories and comments for David’s family to enjoy.
If I don’t see you at either of this month’s meetings, I’ll talk to you again in May.
This month’s pic is of the old Odeon Cinema in Twickenham around the time we were all there (sorry about the quality). I remember being part of a team who sat on upturned dustbins in front of this for a whole day to raise money for our Rag Week charities in 1970. Every time the lights changed, we jumped on the new set of drivers at the lights trying to relieve them of some cash. You can also see that our numbers are creeping up. 800 here we come, and our Facebook group is now 414.
Group Get Togethers
I’m sure you are all up to speed with the fact that we now hold our thrice yearly group meetings in Manchester as well as London and the next ones are due to happen around Easter, which this year is on 19-21stApril. In order to avoid the holiday rush at that time we’ll probably hold them in the early part of the month. The London get together is, as ever, at The Chandos off St Martins Lane. They don’t have a website but if you click here you will get all the griff on them. We have now settled into The Mercure Piccadilly Hotel on Portland Street Manchester for our Northern meet. You can check them out here Piccadilly Hotel. Look out for the dates through my email messages later this month. If you’d like to join us at one of these events and you’re not yet a member of our group just drop me a note to email@example.com and I’ll set you up.
John White has managed to make it along to both of our Northern meetings so far, as a result of which we are now aware of this long-standing group, some of whom are already members, and below is a note John sent me about them. We currently have 76 people from the 64-67 period in our membership. If any of you out there were at college in those years and would like to regain contact with old friends, please drop me a note and we’ll make it happen.
“As you may be aware from our previous correspondence, myself, Peter Murphy and Graham Marshment have together been long-standing coordinators of our Simms 1964-1967 year group cohort reunion activities over the years. To date we have organised eight very successful reunion events at Simms, starting with our 1992 Silver Jubilee Reunion until our last 2017 Golden Jubilee Reunion.
We have a list of over 100 contacts from our cohort, out of a year group intake of 245 students in 1964, but sadly our list of contacts continues to diminish with the demise of too many close friends over time, although we still continue to re-establish contact with ‘lost’ colleagues occasionally, as well as achieving some 50 plus attendees at our regular reunions.”
Kevin Clayton has sent us a bunch of pictures of the antics of a group of students from a Strawberry Fair Rag Week in 1965, together with comments. Here are a few, and the rest can be found in the photos section of the Facebook group.
“I was at Simms 1962-65 and took these photos of Strawberry Fair week 1965. The theme was Pirates and there was a chariot race. Eddie Bleasdale in the chariot was president of the Auto Club. Two PE main lads pulled it. A lot happened on Richmond Bridge with someone going into the water as well as collecting money. As I did Handicrafts, I collected a year of the Weekly Record and bound it. It should be in the college archive and ought to contain lots of interesting stuff. I handed it in around 2005 along with a vinyl record of Skulduggery – a play put on in 1963.”
Kevin mentions his collection of Weekly Records donated back to the college. I bet there are plenty of copies of this august magazine out there. It would be great if those of you who have any could share them with us. Send me, or the Alumni Office a copy and between us we’ll find a way to share them with everyone.
See you in April.
Hello there... only me!
The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that I have changed the cover picture this month. It looks like a Strawberry Fair gathering to me, but you may know better! I’m sure there are a lot of pictures out there which would make great cover shots for this page and we’d love to see them. If you have any photographs you think would look good in this spot, please send them to me or the Alumni Office and we’ll make it happen.
This month I have to report a change at the helm of our Alumni Office. Lucy Edington came on board at the start of this month and we are already working together to further the various projects some of us are involved in this year. You can get hold of Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org She replaces Helen Major who has taken up a new challenge in the Engagement and Internal Comms Dept, where among her other duties she will still be keeping an eye on us to smooth and enhance our relations with the various other departments within the college.
As you can see, at the top of the page I have introduced a record of the number of members we currently have. Since we started working with the college, the size of our group has grown considerably, and the membership count represents the number of people we now have on our email contact list. The Facebook count shows those of you who have joined that closed group. Not everyone who is a member of the FB group has joined the email list, so you may find old friends on there you didn’t know about. Click this link to our page and join in the fun. This year we’re aiming for 800 members so if you are in contact with old friends who have not yet joined us please point them in my direction and I’ll do the rest.
Missing Persons Squad!
Over the years we have been remarkably successful helping old friends find each other, and now that we are a larger group, we can do even better in this area. If you would like us to help you track down your old college pals, please send me their name (at college) together with any other helpful information you have, such as the subjects they studied and the years they were there, and we’ll see what we can dig up for you.
50th Anniversary Bash – 1969 Intake
Some of us are now reaching an age where each year will be the 50th anniversary of starting at St Mary’s, and this year it is the turn of the 69er’s! It will of course, also be the 50th anniversary of those who left that year. However, that doesn’t mean our celebrations are only open to that year’s students. There’s plenty of spread either side of that, so if you were at college a couple of years each side of 69-72 you will be most welcome. There will be lots more about this over the coming months as we put plans in place.
Continuing our policy of sharing occasional stuff that comes our way, this month I am including a photograph sent to me by Alf Yates and a shot of the 1973 Rag Team. I don’t have any information about the rag pic, so if any of you can name the suspects, I’d love to hear from you.
This is a picture of Elizabeth Yates (née Cooney) and me with our three children and grandchildren in the Chapel after Sunday Mass on 12th July 2015, exactly 40 years after our wedding there on 12th July 1975. We were married by Fr Sean Johnston and were both at College from 1971-1974.
See you all in March,
Hello Everyone and a Happy New Year to you all.
December is a very busy time for everyone, so this month we’re just having a catch up, a bit of planning and some more occasional stuff.
Manchester Xmas Meeting
We had our Christmas get together at the Mercure Hotel in Piccadilly Gardens on 6th December Even though it was only our second visit, the staff remembered us and made us very welcome. We took over a cosy corner and spent a very pleasant few hours meeting old friends and discovering new ones. Tom Farrell came from north of Scarborough and Mary Onezime made it all the way up from Southend. A great effort from both of you, and well appreciated. A huge thanks to all you who managed to come along and to those who sent their apologies, it bodes very well for our next meeting at Easter next year.
There is an interesting twist to this tale. Half way through the meeting two guys came in like they were looking for someone. They were about the right age (aren't we all!!) so I asked if they were after our group......and they were. It turned out they were members of our group who were in Manchester for unconnected reasons and were passing the hotel on their way back to the station. One of them thought they remembered that we were holding our meeting today in this hotel, so they popped in for a minute to see if we were there. The pic above catches the moment when they realised, they had found some old friends they hadn't seen for 40 odd years. They could only stay for a few minutes, but it was well worthwhile. Let's hope they can stay for longer next Easter.
I think 2019 will be another good year for us. Now that we have got the Northern group established there will be three get togethers in London and Manchester during the year, watch out for details. In addition, there are moves afoot to set up a similar arrangement down in the South West and I’ll let you know how that develops. This year is the 50th Anniversary of those of you who started college in 1969 and we will be celebrating it at the college over the last weekend in August (Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September). Although that year is our starting point it is not restricted to those dates. A lot of you will know people either side of 1969 so you’ll be most welcome if your college years were anywhere from the late 60’s to the mid 70’s. And don’t forget there is also a group who left college that year. You guys are all welcome too. Lots of planning to do yet and I’ll keep you up to date with it all, but you might want to mark that weekend off in your diary.
The cost of going to University is now significant. By comparison, here is a photo of the letter my parents received from the LEA in 1971 confirming the size of the grant they would be paying for my last year at Simms. It’s pretty self-explanatory and believe it or not I was quite happy with it. I did get a part time job as a night security guard during the summer break before this which I continued during my last year (the theory being that I could get a lot of study done while sitting in some empty premises or building site overnight….yeah right!). As you can see, tuition, food and accommodation were all free!
Catch you all later,
Hello out there
Doesn’t time fly! It’s already December and Christmas is fast approaching. This month we’ve got a report on a fabulous gathering at The Chandos in London, a couple of reminders for future events and a great piece from an ex Simmarian about her involvement in the School in the Clouds.
Chandos Christmas get together
This was one of our great meetings. You can see from the photograph above how many peeps came along. Everyone in this picture is a Simmarian and there were more around the place who I couldn’t catch for this shot. There was a good mix of old friends who’ve been before and new members giving us a try for the first time. If you’re in our Simms Group on Facebook, nip over there and check out all the pictures and comments about the day, and if you’re not…….why not?
Manchester Christmas get together
This takes place at The Mercure Piccadilly Hotel on 6th December. I’ll be sending out the details later this week. If you’re already part of our group you’ll get all the guff next week, and if you haven’t joined us yet………...why not? At our first meeting in September one of our members, Linda Marsden, was telling me about the work she was doing with “The School in The Clouds”. It was fascinating, and I thought you would like to hear about it so, I asked her if she wouldn’t mind writing a piece, that I could pass on, and she very kindly sent me the article and diary below.
The school in the clouds
Some years ago, I listened to a chap who was a computer programmer in New Delhi. He worked next to a slum. He decided to stick a big robust computer into a hole in the wall there and see what would happen. After being abroad for a couple of months he came back to see what had gone on. The street children who had never used a computer before or the internet started browsing. Their complaints to him were - they wanted a faster processor, a better mouse and why was it in English? They'd had to learn English!
The chap was Professor Sugata Mitra and 'The School in the Cloud' was born. He recognised that children could organise themselves to learn whatever they wanted - SOLE - Self Organised Learning Environment. It made headlines in the newspapers and there was much discussion about children's aspirations being raised. Street children in India could dare to dream about a better life and a more hopeful future. It also made a good story - one that was written by a young Indian writer. Danny Boyle made this into a film - 'Slum Dog Millionaire'.
It all began with one chap and a computer in 1999 and children from a slum in New Delhi. Today, 'The School in the Cloud' is a vibrant worldwide community where self-organised learning takes place. I am one of the many volunteer grannies/grandpas who mediate through skype with children in areas where it's most needed. The children always amaze me at their sheer grit and determination to learn. Here is a a short video about it...
Linda Marsden (73-76)
Linda then went on to let us have a section from her diary which gives you a very good idea of how it works.
Wednesday 1st August
East of Kolkata - A small village in the sticks - nearest sizeable place Korakati. 13 children turned up today aged between 5 and 17! and all ages in between. Crumbs, I thought what on earth am I going to do with them for an hour! Seeing the 17 year old in front of the screen I felt confident that he could act as 'leader'. Big mistake - he spoke little English. I continually have to remind myself that it is their 3rd language. All was not lost though. After introductions and general introductions I used my trusty British Council website ' learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org' for a variety of songs including 'The Wheels on the Bus', 'I can sing a rainbow', 'Head, knees and shoulders' with actions, 'Hickory, Dickory, Dock' plus a few others. They all enjoyed it thankfully and I'm always full of admiration that they're coming to the community lab at the end of the school day (usually a.m. timewise for us) for these skype sessions.
Tuesday 7th August
Knowing that the groups are fluid, and anyone can turn up can be a challenge. Today, one child Jit, 10 took control of the keyboard typing in names; interesting as there were older children there, but they mustn't have felt as confident as Jit. Frustratingly there were problems with them not being able to see and hear me. At first, I thought the problem was at their end, but I realised there was a problem with my microphone. Fortunately, it didn't stop the session going ahead - I sent them an activity - to use 'Google Images' to find photos of butterflies, research the 'Big Butterfly Count' and send me photos of butterflies in their area and find words with the word 'butterfly'. They did really well.
Tuesday 14th August
A shock to the system! 14 very intelligent children aged 12-16, found my locality on 'Google Maps', got on to live streaming of the International Space Station, discussed that and found google maps of Mars which I didn't even know existed and then provided a shedload of information about Mars. Very enjoyable, but I needed a lie-down and a strong drink after that as I was exhausted!
Monday 20th August
The younger children who appeared today love anything to do with animals. I sent them a whole range of animal photos and they knew every single one - their range of animal vocabulary is amazing and extensive.
Wednesday 29th August
The children are always keen to screen-share from their screen, that's fine, but today they merrily started watching a video clip I'd sent them about the rainforest, but I couldn't see it! Anyway, Milan, who is the co-ordinator at the lab making sure that everything's ok clicked on the right button and I could see it.
Friday 7th September
A disaster! My lap-top has forced me to update my skype version. I'm sure eventually it will be fine, but at the moment I can't find any of the control buttons and am not able to screen-share. I was able to send them text messages via skype and I got them researching festivals. I told them about our 2 festivals in Ramsbottom, Lancashire this month - jigsaw and black pudding; yes, I know bizarre!
Tuesday 11th September
Today the girls wanted to sing me a song which I enjoyed. I mentioned our 2 festivals again which they found images of. They told me all about their 10 day ’Ganesh Festival' which they were very excited about. Two of the boys then sang me a song, then together we did a number of tongue twisters which they enjoyed. I wished them a happy time at the festival and they went off very excited.
Wednesday 26th September
The children had all enjoyed the festival and told me all about the food, music, dancing, the parades through the streets and they then screen-shared a video of it. It looked very colourful and joyful. They'd had a very happy time and told me more about the traditions surrounding the festival and then Milan found a video showing how paniputi and panipuri are made. I'd never heard of either, so that was an education in itself!
Tuesday 2nd October
Torrential rain, no children have turned up today - Milan sent a message through.
Wednesday 10th October
Still trying to become familiar with this new skype version - still not fully 'au fait' with it. I'm sure it will get better. I think one of the advantages is that I will be able to link up with another lab in India and then we could share a session with them and the lab at Korakati. It worked well when I did it once a couple of years ago, but it was set up for me at the Indian end. I think in the future I'll be able to do it from my end with the new skype version. Today, the children wanted to look at video stories. I found a good one on my faithful British Council website 'The dark, Dark Wood'. The bonus was that there were activities with it too. The mixture of children I had struggled with repeating a lot of the phrases in the text but were very keen to read it. We did it slowly and they had a go at the word activities and did really very well. It helped, as visually there were a number of good illustrations - this worked well given that there were a number of small children. A song always helped, so we finished with '10 Little Aeroplanes' - a counting video song.
Tuesday 16th October
We were going to have a go at singing 'Old MacDonald' but they seemed a bit bored, so I changed tack. They enjoyed a couple of word games and a few tongue twisters. We finished with a jungle story which they enjoyed.
Wednesday 24th October
No internet - being in the sticks it's generated by solar power. It seems though that the problem was with the inverter, so a new part had to be brought from Kolkata. It continually brings it home to me how remote and rural this area is and how far the people here are away from a sizeable centre. It's predominantly a potato growing area together with rice and other vegetables. I'm hoping next time to talk about Diwali with the children.
Monday 29th October
The inverter still hasn't arrived, and Milan said they're still waiting.
Thursday 1st November
The inverter has arrived, so internet is back on. Heavy rain and no children.
Wednesday 7th November
A good session, but there were 18 children! I heard all about Diwali, photos, music and videos. They had enjoyed everything. I did a game 'What is this?' with various items of doll's clothing - skirt, trousers, jumper, hat, scarf, dress and T shirt. they told me their names and colours. We talked about the clothes they were wearing and colours. I also asked them how far they lived from the lab. This varied significantly. The nearest was 10 minutes, but the furthest was an hour. The majority of them cycled to the lab - often with 2 or 3 sharing a bike. We looked at pictures of other forms of transport and a gave them a matching game where they had to match photos with the correct word. They made a few mistakes and had to change them, but generally they did well. Next week hopefully if there are no techie glitches at either end, I'm hoping to hear more about the different festivals, customs and traditions.
Wednesday 31st October
All set with Korakati centre - more activities on the rainforest. What can go wrong? Big mistake! Never assume it will be straight-forward. This new version of skype has been playing up again and today the web cam wasn't working for some reason, so the children couldn't see me! It was so frustrating as they were busy waving at the screen which of course was empty. At least I could copy and paste in the text box to them. The youngest today, a little boy of 5 was telling me what he had enjoyed about the recent festival of Durga Puja. He had enjoyed a savoury dish of panipuri, a bit like small dumplings. Trishna, a 12 year old girl, quite shy in contrast had enjoyed the dance and a very confident Lakshmi, aged 8, who was doing all the typing of names had enjoyed the sweets. Milan then found a video clip to show me how the panipuri are made. We enjoyed a song - 'The Ballad of Lisa the Lemur' being forced out of the rainforest and I gave them some tongue twisters which they enjoyed. They were amazingly patient considering that they couldn't see me. Hopefully the video will work next time!
The October news carried a report on the 50th Anniversary celebrations for those who started at St Mary’s in 1968. Well, unsurprisingly, next year will be the turn of those of us who started in 1969 and we have now booked the college for the weekend of August 30– 31st 2019. There will be lots more about this in the following months, but if you were there around that time (say 1967-74) you’ll know a lot of the attendees and you’re very welcome to come along as well. Mark the dates on your calendar.
Before I sign off, just for some Christmas fun, I thought I would remind you of warmer times. This is a picture of how some students from the 60’s found time to sunbathe on the roof of the QM floor of the Old House. Recognise anyone?
If I don’t see you before, may I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope 2019 turns out to be the year you’re hoping it will be.
Joe Loughran (69-72)
What do you think of this month’s cover picture? It was sent in to the group by one of the members and is from the Going Down Ball in 1973. Do you recognise anyone, or are you on there yourself? Answers on a postcard to……….!
As you know we’re here to help old Simmarians find each other and stay in touch, and so far we seem to be doing just that. Electronically we have our email list and Facebook page and physically we meet in London three times a year and now in Manchester as well.
To further aid this process I recently published a copy of our contact list broken down into year groups, so the people you were at college with are now right there next to your name! If you would like to get a copy of the list and check out if any of your old friends are on there all you need to do is join the group. Just send me an email and I’ll make it happen for you.
There are more than 700 people on the list and it continues to grow through word of mouth, our Facebook page, the column we now have in the Alumni page of the College website and by our search requests, which are wonderfully fruitful.
This month I thought I would show you some examples of how we are helping old friends reconnect. The first two met by chance on a cruise, the next ones knew each other but didn’t realise that either was an old Simmarian, and the last one hooked up again as a result of one of our email appeals. They are all members of the group.
This is the story of how two old Simmarians discovered their connection whilst on a cruise.
During a raging storm on the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia and just north of a joint Chinese-Russia naval missile exercise, two strangers were playing “Trivia” on the cruise ship Silver Shadow. Both missed a question about Alexander Pope and Peter exclaimed “I should have known that; the Popes Grotto was right next to my college”. Joan, in amazement, queried “Strawberry Hill”? To which Peter replied “Yes”.
There ensued an exciting conversation covering the Waldegrave Ballroom, the Long Gallery the running track and the 27 bus etc.
Both are now retired; Peter Daley (59-62) followed a career as a Foreign Exchange Trader and later as a director of a US bank and Joan Street nee Whelan (68-71), who studied Maths & Chemistry, now lives in Sydney following a career as an educator in Financial Services. Both have fond memories of St. Mary’s, the friendships made and the education received which has enabled them to build careers they have both enjoyed.
Pete & Joan
This next tale is weird because of the location! Eileen McNulty (69-72) and John McSweeney (70-73) both live on Thursday Island at the top end of Australia. (Check it out on Google Maps) They knew each other a little, but neither realised that the other went to Simms. Here is a photo of their own reunion back in 2015, and Eileen’s comments about it.
I couldn't believe it when John McSweeney, another ex Simmarian, and I ended up on Thursday Island in the Torres Straits round 2014/ 15. Thursday Island is TINY, less than 2 by 3 kms and one of over 200 little islands in 48 000 sq. kms of sea. I reckon he and I were closer neighbours (within 1 km of each other) than anyone else on our contact list. I'll bring my Aussie map to the Chandos if anyone can get there so you can see just how remote it is. For goodness sake Australia's remote!!
And here’s one more….
Not sure if I told you this - I was looking for Maggie Whelan, 75 -? Well, I have found her, or at least she found me! One of her best friends from College spotted my E-mail appeal and got in touch with her. She is living very near to where I was born in Worcestershire. Her Parents were my God Parents, and I just found out my Dad was her twin Sister's Godfather. That makes her my God Sister, I think. We hope to meet up again next year some time. So, there is a piece of good news to spread around, all because of your hard work! Keep it up!!!
Andy Browne (72-75)
If you have an interesting tale like this we’d love to hear about it.
Now, some dates for your diaries. We will be holding our usual Christmas get-togethers at the end of November or early December in London and now Manchester; those dates will drop into your inbox in the next week or so.
And 2019 is the 50th Anniversary for the 1969 intake (that’s me then!) as well as the 50th leaving party for the 1966 lot. Initial plans are underway and any thoughts about how you would like the celebrations to go will be most welcome. You can send your ideas to me or Helen Major at the college on email@example.com.
If you want to join our movement and change the world! Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you all next month.
Autumn is the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness, they say. But before we think of winding down for winter there’s still plenty going on. This month’s edition reports on the recent 50 year celebration for the 1968-71 intake, and we also had our first Northern meeting in Manchester this month. It turned out to be a great success as you’ll see below. Now read on…
Earlier this month I used my old codgers rail card and took a day trip down to the college for a meet and greet with the Development and Alumni Relations Team. During the day I met lots of interesting people, all very keen and willing to foster and develop relations between the college and all Alumni. For us the point of contact is Helen Major, who recently joined the team and has plenty of ideas to move things forward, and I also met Julian Smyth, the Director of Development who brought me up to speed with the progress he has made to get various departments of the college more involved with the Alumni to improve our experience when we contact or visit the campus.
I’ll be reporting on all the things we discussed as they start to come through look out for updates.
50th Reunion Celebration 1968-71
This reunion proved to be a wonderful success. The weather was great, the company was great, and the fun and friendship was great. Old friends were there from all over the shop; Australia and South Africa to name but two. We even had one hardy lad who drove all the way down from Sunderland and back on Saturday just for the day! Jim Coffey has penned a wonderful description of the whole thing which is posted below and if you visit our Simms Group Facebook page via these three links you will find a wealth of photographs covering the whole weekend.
I would very much like to record some words of thanks for our recent 50th Reunion on behalf of the many who attended the occasion. Perhaps too, it will provide a pen picture of happenings for others out there where ever you may be.
Without doubt our 50th celebration was a memorable success all round.
At the centre of this was the organisation of the activities by Gwen Hickey and Dave 'Torchy 'Simpson but not forgetting the assistance of the college Alumni department and the catering staff who did an admirable job.
Oh, and let's not forget Joe Loughran for all the extra publicity that he gave the occasion through his trusty emails, it was good to see you at the celebrations Joe.
It was also marvellous that other year groups attended, after all we are of the same era! Indeed, an invitation to attend the 69/72 events next year has been mentioned already.
The turnout was the best ever and people came from far and wide, from up and down the country and even further afield. The call went out and so many responded!
Well done to Gill Argent who came in from Southern France and Bernadette Richardson from the South Coast of Spain and everybody else, great to see you all.
A sight to behold was Ian Lee arriving on that humungous motorbike from Co Offaly in Ireland. He certainly fitted the bill as the 'ton up rocker!'
The Pope's was the venue for that first informal get together on the Friday evening but that was only the start.
The informality continued on Saturday with a meet and greet picnic in the grounds of the college. Torchy, Pete Kelly and Humphrey Needle like true Simmarian blues ensured that we were ably entertained with music and song.
Thanks to Jim Powell for organising the cricket match, the quality of play was perhaps not quite up to Lords standards but who was caring? They say it's the taking part that counts!
Saturday evening was the highlight of the weekend with the buffet in the Waldegrave Ballroom, scene of many other gatherings we had back in those college days.
Stories were retold, and new ones shared, it was like we had never left there.
The evening was interspersed with sounds of the 60's, All right Now the Free.. Stones, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and all the rest. We even had a cake to cut which Micky Kerr carried out with precision, it must have been all those maths lessons on fractions over the years. Thanks Micky for the cake cutting exercise and the cool music sounds.
The dancing was pretty energetic oh wow as we tripped the light fantastic!
We were even treated to a rather different take on a swing number with legs to the left and legs to the right thanks’ lads. They were looked down on from the portrait of Lady Waldegrave no less, as you will see from one of the photos.
And so, we closed what was a very special evening with people vowing to keep up the contacts. On Sunday we gathered in the chapel for 11am mass and certainly it was a time of reflection. We remembered those who could not be present but most of all those Simmarians from our year group who had passed RIP. Torchy provided a gentle lament played on the flute, is there no end to that man's talents?
Pauline and Paddy Ruth had something very special to remember when they received a blessing during the mass to celebrate forty-five years of marriage.
Congratulations Pauline and Paddy from everybody!
The time was near for us to say our farewells to friends who had celebrated 50 years since we started college in 1968. The flip side to that is we must all meet back at Simms in three years’ time when it will be 50 years since we finished college!
Life can be so interesting if you make it that way!!
Good luck everybody...
Jim Coffey (68-71) and on behalf of the rest of the quality vintage!!
First Northern Get Together
Last Friday saw the inaugural Northern meeting of our Simms Group, and what a day it turned out to be………..way better than my wildest expectations. We met at the Mercure Hotel bordering Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester. I got there early on the off chance that someone might actually turn up, but I needn’t have worried. Old Simmarians soon started wandering into the lounge bar, easily recognisable by their energy and youthful good looks!
As you can see from the photograph we had a great turn out, easily matching those we have been enjoying down in London for some years now. You can see more pictures and read the many comments on our Simms Facebook page by following this link:
The hotel could not have been more accommodating. They kept an area to one side for us and waiters and bar staff tended to our every need for the afternoon. One thing I hadn’t thought of was name tags, but that was solved by approaching the registration desk for a conference that was taking place further down the corridor from the lounge bar and persuading them to lend me a load of blank ones for the afternoon. Note to self, bring name tags next time!
Everyone was very enthusiastic about the whole thing and keen to establish it as a regular event. As you can see we had a great turnout for a first effort, and on top of those who came we had many apologies from those who couldn’t make it this time and promises to come along to the next one, so it looks like future gatherings will be well attended. There is a list of those who came along on the FB page, but if you want more info just drop me an email. As for future events, it was not a matter of should we, but when, so we’re going to plug it into the calendar and as soon as we have worked out a suitable date for the next bash I’ll let you know.
A big, big thank you to all those who were able to make it this time and we look forward to seeing you all in Manchester for the next one...
Joe Loughran (69-72)
Greetings Pop Pickers!
By the time you read this month’s news the great 50th Celebration for the 1968 intake will have taken place. We’ll have a full report and pictures in October and we’re starting to talk to the college about making this an annual event, so 69’ers you’re up next!
It has been another month of new members finding us, and old friends finding each other through the growing email list we have. There are now 650 of us and I am amazed at how successful we are becoming at playing detective. If you fancy jumping on the bandwagon, send me an email with the years you were at St Mary’s and I’ll do the rest.
And now onwards…
You may recall we had our latest “Gathering of the Clans” at The Chandos on Friday 13th August, and despite the date it turned out to be one of the best ones we’ve had. Now that we have a presence on the college web site we are generating new members all the time and we had a good turnout of those here. It is always great when we see new faces coming along as well as those of you that can get there more often. One of our members, John Harkin was over from
Australia and it turned out that not only did he and I study Physics together at Simms, but we are both Coventry boys (different schools) so we had a lot to catch up on. John was really hoping to see his old friend Tim Daley who he hadn’t seen for 43 years and sure enough both Tim and Teresa came in half an hour later. There were tales of new members finding and reconnecting with old friends they had seen on the email listings or had heard from since I put out a new joiners list. It is always good to hear that our messages and newsletters are putting an increasing number of old friends back in touch with each other, and if it happens to you we would love to hear about it, after all, that’s what this group is about. Here are some pics for you. If you want me to identify anyone just email me.
Last month I told you that we were having our first get together “Up North”. Well it’s happening this month in Manchester. I originally opt
ed for a local pub very close to the main Piccadilly Station for ease of access, but I was not happy with their proposals for the room and food etc, so I looked elsewhere and received a very warm welcome from the Manchester Mercure Piccadilly Hotel in Piccadilly Gardens (10 mins from the station).They will cordon off an area for us in the 3rd floor lounge and we can get whatever food and drink we chose from their bar and extensive menu.
The date we have chosen is Friday 28th September and we will meet at noon along the same lines as The Chandos meetings.
More details to follow. You’ll easily find the hotel on goggle and If you are interested in joining in and want more info send me an email. email@example.com.
Now, something for the oldies! This month we have been sent a couple of sporting photos by John Quinn (1960-61 and 1965-67) from the very earliest days of our group membership. See if you can recognise anyone?
Photo of First Year football XI (1960/61)
This was taken before game against Second Year XI, which was won by the First Year XI.
Back Row from left to right - Phil Entwhistle - Brian Jones - Tony Patterson - Julian Harland z(?) Sinicki (we all called him “Sini’ - Roger Mackay - John Walmsley - Joe Hughes….I cannot remember why Joe wasn’t dressed. He was the best First Year player and played College1st XI along with three other Fist Years, Sini, Tony Patterson, and me.
Front Row left to right - Frank Daley - Dave Spence - Don Preston - Brian Hickey - et moi, John Quinn
Photo of College Volleyball team (1960-61)
Back row from left to right -Lou Baker - Tony Patterson - John Molloy - Andy Grigulis - Stan Bissinger Pete Hughes
Front Row left to right - Tony Short - Pete Harvey - John Wilcox - Brian Wood - George Bulman - John Quinn - Lucas Remedios
See you all next month,
This month we have, news about our first Northern meeting for the group, a twist on the Simmarian Magazine’s “Where are they now” column, a reminder of Strawberry Fayre 1963 and a really great video of life at St Mary’s around 1969-71 Enjoy.
A final reminder for those of you who were at Simms around 1968-71, that your 50th Anniversary party is happening at the College over the weekend of 31st August to 2nd September. If you don’t know about this yet or want more information you’ll get everything you need from the Alumni Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a line and I’ll point you in the right direction.
Where are they now?
As you know the College already runs this section in the Simmarian Magazine to let people know what their old friends have been up to since leaving St Mary’s, but this month I want to turn that on its head and ask for your help to find the lady below.
Normally we rely on our existing contacts to try and track down old friends, but occasionally we get a request which might deliver better results if we ask the wider Simmarian community.
An example of this is a request from John Hillel to find Elizabeth Mate’ (with an acute accent). John tells me that Elizabeth was a librarian at the College in the late 60’s, so she ought to be known to many of you (‘cos we all spent hours in there, right!) If any of you can help John, please send me an email.
Those of you who are already members of our group will know that we have been holding regular get togethers for some years now at The Chandos Pub in St Martins Lane off Trafalgar Square, and our summer meeting is happening there on Friday 17th August. We have found that if we run the meeting from 12 noon onwards it allows those of us who travel to get there and home again in one day. So, if you fancy a day out in London, send me an email and I’ll let you have all the details.
Following the success of our London gatherings we have had several requests to organise a similar event in “the North”, and to quote all the best politicians “we’ve been listening”. We will be holding our very first Northern get together at The Waldorf Pub on Gore St Manchester, just 5 minutes’ walk from Piccadilly Station. It will either be on the 21st or 28th September and we intend to follow the same successful formula we do at The Chandos. It’s still in the planning phase, so look out for the concrete arrangements in next month’s newsletter………..or better still, join the group and never miss opportunities like this again!!
One of our members, Margaret Cribbin (nee O’Reilly), has posted the video below on our Simms Group Facebook page with the following notes. It’s well worth a look. If any of you have stuff like this hiding away at home, we’d love to help you share it with the wider group. Just send it to me or post it on our FB page.
I have just had some old Cine films converted to video. They show Strawberry Fayre 1969-71 but I’m not sure which year. It also has a section on the Plasy Brenin outdoor activity centre with some of the PE group, followed by scenes taken near the sports hall. If you look carefully Miss Stapleton makes a fleeting appearance. The groups featured are mostly lads from Liverpool, the Irish PE group and my Cross St housemates, Lynda Mullin, Shelagh Killen, Kate Taylor, Gail Murray, Pat Gilbert and Jo Doyle, all of whom are still in contact with each other. Hope the video revives happy memories.
Apologies for the bad camera work!
Regards to all
Margaret Cribbin nee O'Reilly
One of our new members, Bill Redmayne, who was at College 1961-64 has sent me this poster from Strawberry Fayre 1963 with the following comments.
“I thought some of our 60s readers might like to see this, I think it was this year that those two great wrestlers, The Duke of Sarfend and The Mauler met in combat, Denis should know. Keep up the good work.” (Editor’s note…..I’ve no idea who Dennis is!)
This is just the sort of thing we like to see, so if you have old photos, documents or other scannable memorabilia from those days you’d like to share with the group, please send them to me or the Alumni Office and we’ll do the rest.
See you all next month
How’s this weather suiting you all?
Having our own web page is proving very fruitful for us. Since last month we have recruited another 40+ members from all around the world. The Alumni part of the college website has a “ Where are you now” section and we have attracted some new members through that. The college is always looking for updates and stories from past students and would love to hear from you guys about what you’ve been up to since leaving those hallowed halls!
I’m sure we all have fond memories of Strawberry Fayre, and back in March we were lucky enough to get hold of some rare footage of one of those wonderful events from 1973/74. Here is a link to the page. Enjoy.
As you know we hold a low-key get together at The Chandos pub in London three times a year and right now, we are just working out the date for the next one, which will be later this month or early August. Once we’ve finalised that I’ll send a note out to everyone. If you are not yet on our contact list and think you might like to come along send me an email and I’ll keep you informed about it.
Many reunions take place at the college, organised by the different year groups who have kept in touch. Recently, Tony Aitken sent me a wonderful web page he created of a 2012 reunion for the 1964-68 group. I have attached it below. I’m sure it will bring back many memories for some of you.
There will be an article about music gigs at St Mary’s in the next Simmarian magazine. One of our members has sent us his memories of the music scene when he was there, and it really highlights the way the whole world of music changed during the 60s:
Re. music at Simms - the Modern Dance orchestra at the college provided most of the music in the early 60s and would occasionally have guest instrumentalists from the military. These provided many a swinging evening for all the dancers. Barney O’Hare who was president of the Modern Dance Society in 62 invited an Irish Showband to perform one evening and they rocked the old Aula with their rousing rendition of the “Lone Ranger” theme. We also had a trio at that time with my old friend, the late Mike Lynagh on drums.
I also see that the BBC has been reminiscing about Eel Pie Island and the Richmond Hotel which were favourite haunts for the college aficionados of the new beat in those days. At that time, Joe Jagger was the college basketball coach and the PE members made every effort to petition him to have son Mick and the Stones play a gig at the college. Alas! It came to naught.
James Forde (1961-65)
Here we are with our third group newsletter. I’ve tried to give it some sort of format, but that may change as we develop it. If what you see here inspires you or reminds you of your time at college, you can share your stories and memories (including pics and vids) on here by sending them to me or directly to Elinor Hatt at the uni at email@example.com.
This month we have great news for you. The college like what were doing with our group so much that they have now given us our own page on the University website. You have reached this by clicking on the “read more” button in the enews letter, but if you want to get to our page through the Uni web site, you need to do the following. Go to www.stmarys.ac.uk and click on “Alumni” in the top right-hand corner. This takes you to the main “Development and Alumni Relations” page. Now scroll down and click on “Alumni Services”, then “Support Services”, and you will find our group listed in the column on the right-hand side of the page. This is a little convoluted, and we’re hoping to make it an easier click through in the future, but it’s a start.
Since the last issue of this we have attracted another 32 members, so although I haven’t totalled up our numbers recently, I guess it’s around 650 by now. In order to get my emails through to everyone I have to split them into 4 groups, so you will not be aware of who all our members are by scrolling through the list of addresses at the top of the emails you receive. I am in the process of creating a full list of members to pass on to you all. This is a slow process but look out for more progress on it in the coming months.
I recently asked for your help to track down pictures of Tim Cullen for one of our members and as usual you came through. We managed to get not only photos but were able to provide video as well.
Thanks very much to everyone for sending these in!
This September it will be 50 years since the 1968 intake started and to celebrate this, there is a reunion taking place at the college over the last weekend in August (from Friday 31st to Sunday 2nd September). Even though the central date is 1968, old friends who were at college around that time will be most welcome. Plans are already well underway for this event and if any of you would like to attend or get more information about it please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or you can book online here.
One of our members has passed on a video of Strawberry Fayre 1973 and 74, and I have included a link to it here for those of you who might like to see it. This is the video that, by sheer luck, included shots of the Tim Cullen that our member was looking for…enjoy!
Ghost Hunting in the Old House
Jim Powell, who was at St Mary’s from 1966-69, has sent in this recollection of one of his late night excursions into the Old House to hunt for Ghosts, a journey many of us have been on!
Walpole House had a reputation of being a centre for black magic in the past.
At the end of the night, when the bar closed a group of 3 of us were still wide awake. We had heard about the round room. We walked up the corridor and up the stairs into the round room. The markings for the black magic were supposed to be under the carpet. For the magic to work the room had to be completely round. The window shutters and doors were slightly curved and covered in the same material of the walls. We closed them. There was completely darkness.
We got bored after a time and decided to leave. We felt our way around the wall and found a door. It opened onto the Long Hall. As we opened the door, a shaft of light slowly appeared in an otherwise dark Long Hall as a door was opened at the far end. A hooded figure appeared and slowly turned towards us and advanced.
Being the brave lads, we were, we panicked and slammed the door shut. Now we are in complete darkness and the walls and the doors flowed into each other. Each one of us were running across the room with the inevitable collisions. I found the correct door first and went through it, slamming it after me in case the hooded figure would catch me. Immediately after the door slammed shut I heard 2 thumps as my compatriots hit the closed door. I am sure that I cleared the stairs in one leap.
I waited down by the bar and waited for the other 2. They did not have kind words for me!
We decided that we had to go back because we did not really believe in ghosts. As we came to the top of the stairs, we saw the hooded figure again advancing towards us! It was a small thin priest who was on duty because of the theft and vandalism at night. He asked if he should call the police because of the event. We did not admit that it was us, but we advised that it was not necessary. When the priest left all three of us were very sober and quiet.
Jim Powell (Physics and Maths, 1966-69)
Welcome to our second group update. We had a great response from the first one that came out last month, attracting more than 40 new members. Since this is a new venture for us I’ve set down below a potted history of our group so you know where we came from.
It began in 2012 when 6 of us got together over lunch, and since then it has grown steadily such that we now number more than 600, with a membership from the beginning of the 60s to the end of the 70s. We take a low key approach to things, holding periodic get togethers and regular contact, rather than the more traditional big reunion once every 5 or 10 years with little in between.
For those who feel inclined we meet 3 times a year at The Chandos pub off Trafalgar Square (Easter, Summer and Xmas) and in between we encourage members to keep us all posted with news and anything Simmarian! Some of us live abroad these days and so far we have been very successful in organising get togethers for those that come back to these shores for a visit. Some members have suggested we hold a northern meeting as well, so we will be trying that later this year.
Sometime ago we created our own Facebook page, called the ‘Simms Group’. This is a closed group so there are no annoying little kittens or adverts or anything else unwanted! There are currently 230 members on there and the photos, memories and banter on the site are well worth a visit.
As well as helping people keep in touch, one of the reasons for our group is to allow old friends to share their memories of time at college, and this month we have included just such a note. One of our members sent in a series of photographs of the Art Department students around 1970-73, which we posted on our Facebook group. This prompted Andy Browne (1972-75) to send in his memories of that time, which you can read below. If you want to see the pictures, they are all on the Facebook page with many other comments.
If any of you has memories and/or photographs like this of your time at St Mary’s, and would like to share them with us, please send them over and we’ll see what we can do.
See you next month.
Joe Loughran (1969-72)
I have been looking at the Art intake at College 1970-73. I certainly remember Paddy Fallon as a friend from College married his sister, Katherine. She was known to us as Tatty, as that was what she called herself when young. The Fallon family lived in Bath, and that is where Paul Booton, Andrew Collins and I all taught, me as a supply teacher. The school was called Beechen Cliff School For Boys, and had been Bath Grammar For Boys, and Wells Road, it being a split-site. One of the Deputy-Heads was Bill Fallon, Paddy and Tatty's father!
When did the College Art Department close? John Fagg who was Head of Department when I was there, was a member of my father's scout troop in Malvern, Worcestershire. I did not know this until my father visited College one time in 1973 or 74. He was an English lecturer and librarian in a teacher training college actually inside Alnwick Castle, where Harry Potter was filmed. Watching the films, I can recognise some of the places shown. Anyway, Dad came down to see our librarian at college. I left him there and was told to return two hours later. When I did I was told to smarten up, put on a suit, and do my hair, (which when Dad said, you did with no argument!) We then went into the Senior Common Room.
One of the reasons I went to Simms is that it was a nice long way from Northumberland where I lived, so I could let my hair down, without my parents knowing what I was doing. Well, of course Dad knew nearly all our staff! I remember he knew John Fagg, and an English lecturer (Cicely something?) Whether he knew everything I did wrong or with high spirits I don't know, but he had a twinkle in his eye after we left the common room!
Andy Browne (1972-75)