CONNECT Friends of NGHS Magazine
Issue 2 2011
Cover Story: An interview with Olivia Scrimshaw (1996) Also in this issue:
Gap year adventures Mothers and daughters NGHS during WWII
WELCOME Welcome to the second edition of Connect, the Friends of NGHS magazine. This has been an exciting year for the Friends of NGHS, beginning with the creation of the NGHS Development Team, through the appointment of Kate Shaw as Director of Development. See page five for a full interview with Kate. The Development Team has expansion in mind and we are determined to grow our community through participation in school activities, events and developing a vibrant on-line community through the Friends of NGHS online groups on Linked In, Facebook and Friends Reunited. If you use these online networks, please seek us out and join the groups. You will be the first to know about all our news, updates and event dates. We are conscious that there are many alumnae with whom we have lost touch. We are keen to reengage, involve and communicate with as many alumnae as possible and would urge you to let your networks know about us. If you know of friends and contacts who do not hear from us, please encourage them to get in touch and leave us their details in order for us to update the database. This edition of Connect further shows the strength of our community. Highlights include an update from our alumnae who
are travelling or working abroad, memories of NGHS during WWII, Mothers and daughters and their accounts of their time at NGHS and much more. Once again, we have been overwhelmed with the response that we have received from our contributing alumnae. We are excited about your enthusiasm to be involved and believe this highlights the strength of our community and the importance of involvement to you. With all the development plans that the School has, the next year promises to be an exciting one. We plan to host more reunions and would love to hear from you if you would like us to organise a reunion for your year group. Please keep in touch with any ideas about reunions or events which you would like to participate in. We are working hard to create an events calendar which appeals to you all and are always open to ideas and suggestions. We are already busy working on the next edition of Connect and intend to make this a termly magazine. If you have any news or stories which you would like us to feature, please do get in touch. We hope that you enjoy this second edition of Connect and wish you all the best for the remainder of 2011. Kate Shaw & Malvika Johal Development Team at NGHS
Keeping in touch There are many ways in which you can keep in touch with us. Email: email@example.com Tel: 0115 9417663 See the website at www.nottinghamgirlshigh.gdst.net for our up to date news, full events calendar and much more. ‘Friends of NGHS’ online groups on:
Events Calendar 2011 Class of 1971, 40 year Reunion Saturday 8 October 12.00 noon in the Sixth Form Centre NGHS will be hosting a 40 year reunion for all those who graduated in 1971 Open Day Saturday 5 November 9.30am - 12.30am An opportunity to have a guided tour of the school, see various activities and listen to a talk from the Headmistress. Class of 1961, 50 Year Reunion Saturday 12 November 12 noon in the Sixth Form Centre NGHS will be hosting a 50 year reunion for all those who graduated in 1961 Music at Michaelmas Wednesday 23 November 7.30pm St Peter’s Church, Nottingham A variety of pieces performed by the Senior orchestra, choirs and ensembles in the beautiful setting of St Peter’s Church 2011 Leavers’ Christmas Drinks Thursday 15 December 1.00pm in the Sixth Form Centre The school will welcome back its 2011 leavers for Christmas drinks and a chance to catch up with staff.
Letter from the Head
Introducing Kate Shaw
Friends of NGHS Creative Showcase
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2011 2 July aturday
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A Rising Star: Bianca Claxton
An Interview with Olivia Scrimshaw
Mothers and Daughters A look at changes through the generations with reports from Anne, Vicki and Melissa, Lynne and Sarah, Maggi and Sarah, Kate and Jenny, and Michelle and Claire
2 July aturday
Our Published Alumnae We catch up with a few of our published alumnae including Dame Stella Rimington, Nina Sheeran, Penelope Bush and Frances Thimann.
Class of 1970, 40 Year Reunion
Friends of NGHS Spring Lunch 2010
Class of 2010, Christmas reunion
Class of 1980, 30 Year Reunion
5 Year Reunion, Class of 2005
Class of 2010, Farewell Party
Class of 1949, 80th birthday party
My Trip to Haiti by Nicky David
NGHS Throughout World War II Accounts of war time experiences at NGHS from Roby Banks, Jill Devine, Audery Alcock, Margaret Craig, Noreen Shaw, Christine Tindall, Elizabeth McAuslane, Anne Phillips and Sylvia Shelton.
Gap Years Travel tales from alumnae Imogen Barker and Elizabeth Cooper.
Cover picture: Olivia Scrimshaw (1996) and Emma Watson (1998)
LETTER FROM THE HEAD Dear Friends of NGHS It is with great pleasure that I introduce the second edition of the â€˜Connectâ€™ magazine for NGHS. I would like to thank all those of you who have contributed to the magazine. There is an amazing range of articles which reflects the very diverse range of talents, interests and careers of our alumnae. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I hope that you do too. I am sure that you will have many fond memories of NGHS, of friends you made and the fun you had. We would love to hear about them and also any news you have about what you are doing now. When our girls leave NGHS they remain an important and valued part of the community and we want to stay in touch. It may be that you would like to come to reunions, pop into school for a tour of the school, give careers advice or talks to our current pupils - whatever your interest, we hope we can continue to remain in touch. The staff and our current pupils really appreciate hearing from you. We would be grateful if you could keep us updated with your current contact details so that we can help keep in touch and keep you abreast of relevant news and events at NGHS. Yours sincerely
Mrs Susan Gorham Head
INTRODUCING KATE SHAW I caught up with our new Director of Development, Kate Shaw and asked her about her exciting plans for the future.
acknowledged within the School’s communications and magazines. This will be an excellent opportunity for a company to raise their profile locally, regionally and nationally within the excellent network of the Friends of NGHS, which includes pupils, alumnae, former and current parents and friends of the school. There will also be many opportunities throughout the year to engage with the School community, by attending events.
by Malvika Johal M.J. Congratulations on your new appointment as Director of Development at NGHS. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience? K.S. I have had a varied working background, latterly with a keen interest in fundraising. I was proud to be involved in the Treetops Hospice Ripple appeal, where I successfully completed a £1.4 million capital appeal, leading Treetops to open a new care centre in Risley, celebrated with a Royal opening in November last year. I was fortunate to work with an amazing team of volunteers and had some wonderful support and engagement from companies, individuals, clubs and organisations across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. I have also been the Voluntary Chairman of my local branch of the NSPCC. I have raised money for the Stroke Association, VICTA (Visual impaired children)and my son’s school PTA. On a personal level, I’m a Nottingham girl. I love Nottingham and have lived and worked here for many years. It never fails to amaze me how interconnected people and their networks are in the county. I am married to Paul and have two young boys, Harry and George. As a family we love to support Nottingham Forest, and also support
In 1922 the school was able to offer its first free school place and has worked hard to ensure that its community is diverse and includes girls from a variety of backgrounds. The bursary sponsorship scheme will enable more girls to benefit. the boys in their own local football teams. We love socialising, enjoying good food and generally having fun. I like to keep fit and enjoy running. Last year I ran the Experian Robin Hood half marathon... albeit slowly! M.J. What is your immediate priority as Director of Development? K.S. I am really looking forward to my new career challenge at NGHS and feel very fortunate to have joined the school at such an exciting time. My focus is to develop the bursary scheme at NGHS. I intend to create and launch both corporate and individual bursary sponsorship opportunities. These bursaries will allow talented girls the opportunity to thrive in the successful and supportive environment that is NGHS, Girls, who otherwise would not have been able to access the education that NGHS offers. I am particularly looking to engage with businesses, both large and small who could be interested in this exciting opportunity. Bursary sponsorship will be available at various levels. Any support from a business will of course be
M.J. I understand that NGHS has ambitious development plans for a new Performing Arts Centre which you will be driving forward? K.S. The School has ambitious plans for its future and is always looking at ways to enhance and improve its provision. This currently includes building a new Performing Arts Centre, in partnership with the GDST, if sufficient funds can be raised. Local architects Marsh Grochowski have recently been appointed and have drawn up innovative initial plans and are carrying out a feasibility study. The School sees the proposed Performing Arts Centre very much as a community asset, to be used by many. We hope that it will become an important focus of Performing Arts in Nottingham. It will have the capacity to seat 300 plus and will allow Nottingham Girls’ High School to significantly improve and allow Performing Arts across the whole school and will enhance the excellent educational facilities for the pupils. It will enable NGHS to continue to excel in the production of their musical performances, theatre productions and concerts.
The recent production of Oliver was sold out over three evenings as the existing school hall has insufficient seating. The production had amazing feedback and in future it will be possible to host such performances in a far more suitable and inspiring environment with far greater capacity. A fundraising campaign will be launched soon... watch this space. We will need your support! I look forward to bringing you all regular news and updates on its progress. M.J. You are obviously very passionate about fundraising and development. K.S. Yes, I feel passionate about helping the school raise money and creating enhanced facilities and opportunities for pupils, staff and the wider community. The scope and possibilities in fundraising are endless. I never fail to be amazed at the levels of support which can be achieved when you can capture people’s imaginations, and what can subsequently be achieved with their support. M.J. You’ve got a mighty task ahead. Can you achieve this by yourself? A good fundraiser does not work alone and I intend to engage and connect with all the School’s strong networks and I look forward to forging many new relationships and friendships with Friends of NGHS and involving them fully with the school’s development plans. The Friends of NGHS was launched at the Creative Showcase event on 2nd July and involved current and former parents, pupils, alumnae and friends of the school. I would like alumnae to feel a part of the existing School as well as part of its history. I will be working closely with yourself to make sure that alumnae feel connected and are able
to participate in fun, interesting and exciting events at NGHS. I am actively seeking to create a team of people who can assist and support me in a variety of projects. I would very much welcome hearing from Friends of NGHS who might be interested in getting involved with the development plans and would ask them to contact me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 0115 941 7663 I am a big fan of Linked In, which is an online business networking site. I am really keen to create a vibrant ‘Friends of NGHS‘ Linked In community which will enable members huge potential to network together, not just to reminisce about old times at school, but as a professional body. I would urge all friends of NGHS to register on the Friends of NGHS Linked In group and participate. You may be surprised at the extent of your networks! http://uk.linkedin.com/in/kateshaw1 M.J. We look forward to seeing the development programme develop and will certainly be ‘watching this space’.
FRIENDS OF NGHS CREATIVE SHOWCASE The Friends of NGHS Creative Showcase took place on Saturday 2 July. It was a spectacular success and certainly an event to remember! Attended by thousands of people and hundreds of alumnae, ranging from the class of 1948 to our recent 2011 leavers. The official launch of the Friends of NGHS incorporated alumnae, former parents, current parents and pupils of the school and highlighted the diversity, creativity and breadth of our community. The event showcased the best of our creative talent ranging from music recitals, fashion shows, food demonstrations, including Michelin star chef, Sat Bains.
Fine displays of art, photography and sculpture. There was a vast array of stands and stalls exhibiting unique designer jewellery, stunning furniture and design ideas for the home. You couldn’t fail to be tempted by the delicious cakes, artisan cheeses, pork pies, beautiful hand crafted gifts and cards. There was something for everyone! Dame Stella Rimington, alumna and former Director General of MI5, opened the event with the ceremonial planting of a Rowan tree, which many of you will remember from the NGHS school crest. Sue Gorham, Head, explained the significance and meaning of the Rowan tree. It symbolises aspiration as the bulk of the berries tend to be at the top of the tree so one has to reach high for the rewards.
as ‘nothing less than brilliant’ and I couldn’t agree more! We hope that the launch of Friends of NGHS will help create an active and vibrant community.”
With many stalls and exhibitions and with so much to see it was wonderful to watch our guests studying the packed programme of the day’s events, deciding where to head first and what they wanted to see - a tough decision on whether to listen to the inspiring Question and Answer session with Ambassador Theatre Group owner, Rosemary Squire, Theatre Director, Indhu Rubasingham and Dame Stella Rimington, or to be entertained by the wonderful music and dance shows on offer across the School site. The atmosphere was buzzing as jazz music played across the sports field and amid excited screams from the junior fairground, parents sat and observed whilst enjoying an ice cold Pimms. We were thrilled that so many alumnae took part in the event, taking stands and stalls, exhibiting their work, giving talks or performing. There were many year groups represented and it was lovely to see so many of their contemporaries turning up to support them. Our alumnae found themselves catching up with friends that they had not seen for many years, and exchanging contact details. It was wonderful to see the familiarity of NGHS bringing together old friends and creating new relationships. Sue Gorham, Head, commented: “I am delighted with the feedback that we have had following the Creative Showcase. It has been described
We would like to send a huge thank you to everyone who attended and helped to make the day the success that it was. It was a great opportunity to update our contact information on alumnae that we had lost touch with. We urged everyone on the day to fill in a contact card and this will allow us to communicate more widely and keep in touch with so many more people. Finally, a big thank you too to all those alumnae who took stands and helped make the day so fabulous. Dame Stella Rimington (Whitehouse, 1953) Jean Hardy (1954) Helen Austin (Seigel, 1973) Ann Wilson (Garton, 1962) Celia Frances Thimann (1962) Maggi Dunn (Pilkington, 1968) Cynthia Onions (Colton, 1971) Rosemary Squire OBE (1974) Liz Ashley (Stott, 1977) Juliet Packe Drury Lowe (Cursham, 1978) Alison Lowe (1979) Claire Tuttey (1983) Penelope Bush Pearce, (1985) Julia Rudd (1983) Helen Williams (1988) Sarah White (Dunn, 1989) Camilla Moore (Tyack, 1993) Indhu Rubasingham (1992) Louise Lee (1993) Marianne Atkinson (1996) Felicity Mould (1996) Olivia Scrimshaw (1997) Hannah Evans (1999) Emily Mould (1999) Sarah Davenport (1999) Hannah Evans (2000) Jill Doherty (2002) Louise Dunn (2003) Clare Hammond (2003) Beth Shapeero (2005) Laura Garrow (2009) Jenny Crowther (2009) Rebecca McMillan (2009)
PICTURES FROM THE CREATIVE SHOWCASE
OUR PUBLISHED ALUMNAE At NGHS our alumnae are part of an exclusive literary club including writers such as Helen Cresswell, Julie Myerson and Betty Boyden. Many of our alumnae have published work and we thought we would catch up with a few of our authors.
Dame Stella Rimington (Whitehouse, 1953) offered a part-time job as a clerk/ typist in their New Delhi office. No-one knew much about the Intelligence Services in those days and you couldn’t apply for a job, as you can now.
(Bloomsbury Publishing) You left NGHS is 1953; what was your next move, and were you always aiming for a job in national security? I went to Edinburgh University to read English Language and Literature and then I decided to become an archivist. I took the Postgraduate Diploma in Archives Administration at Liverpool University and got a job in the Worcestershire Record Office, then moved after a few years to the same sort of job in the India Office Library in London. It wasn’t until I got married and went with my husband on a diplomatic posting to India that I came across MI5, when I was tapped on the shoulder and
You held your position as Director General of MI5 for four years until 1996, and published your memoirs in 2001. You published your first fictional novel in 2004, based on the life of an intelligence officer, Liz Carlyle; was it always your intention to become a fiction writer? I had often dreamed about writing thrillers but it wasn’t the sort of thing I could have done when I was working. I had never intended to write my memoirs at all. But as it turned out, I wrote my memoirs ‘Open Secret’ first, and then, having learned a bit about publishing, I moved on to novels. I knew that when I did write thrillers, they would have a female heroine. Liz Carlyle is my answer to James Bond. You have published five novels in total, and are due to release the latest edition to the series, Rip Tide. Can you give us a preview as to what the book is about? It’s about Somali pirates and Islamist extremists in Birmingham and how the two come together and what happens when they do. Liz Carlyle and her colleagues are there to prevent disaster.
in the summer of next year. It will be about the very modern threat to our security from cyber-attacks and Liz Carlyle will be trying to sort it all out. It is widely believed that you were characterised in recent James Bond films by Judi Dench as ‘M’. How true to reality is the representation? In the first film in which she played ‘M’ she looked very like I looked at the time – same clothes, same hair. My daughters told me she even held her hands in the same way as I did. But the plots of the Bond films have never been remotely realistic, and nor is her ‘M’, though it’s great fun and she’s a wonderful actress. Can we except to see Liz Carlyle hitting the big screen? Possibly the small screen - TV. Although your time at school must seem a million worlds away, what are your fondest memories of NGHS? It doesn’t seem that far away, though it is. I still have friends I made there. I have lots of wonderful memories of NGHS ; it was a very happy time for me and I have much to be grateful to the school for particularly the excellent education it gave me and the confidence that goes with that, which has stood me in good stead throughout my life.
Can we expect any more novels in the series? Yes. I have just started another book, which is due to be published
An extract from Rip Tide ‘She’s on her way. All clear,’ said a voice in Dave’s ear as he waited under cover of a line of tall trees outside the gate of the small park further up the street. The A4 surveillance van parked in Slocombe Avenue was monitoring Tahira’s walk from the shop and Dave was ready to abort the meeting if any sign of danger was observed. Tahira walked on, passing a line of semi-detached houses with lights on in their sitting rooms and the noise of televisions plainly heard in the street, until the houses gave way to the park - a favourite of mothers with toddlers - now gloomy and deserted, its gate shadowed by the line of trees set back from the street. At the gate she hesitated. ‘Tahira.’ The voice was soft and English. It startled her. She turned and there was the man in the parka again, standing ten feet in from the pavement, under the branches of one of the lime trees. He was still smiling and looked entirely unthreatening, but she felt frightened nonetheless. How did he know her name? What did he want? She looked around, but there was no one nearby, and the light was fading now that the sun had set. ‘Can I have a word, please?’ the man said. ‘Who are you?’ Tahira demanded, trying to project an air of confidence she didn’t feel. Then a woman emerged from the shadows behind the man. Tahira recognised her at once - it was the same woman who’d come to her father’s house to tell them about Amir. Tahira had liked her directness. She relaxed slightly though she still wondered what they wanted from her. The English woman said, ‘Tahira, there’s a bench over here, behind me. If you go in and sit there, I’ll join you in a minute.’ When Tahira didn’t respond, she added, ‘My friend here will keep watch. No one will see us, I promise you.’ Tahira thought hard.
It was all very well to say there was no danger, but she knew that was nonsense. If she was spotted talking to this woman, word would get around right away - if not to the young men from the mosque, then to her father, who would be furious that she’d met the officials who had come to see him, off on her own. There would be no explanation for it that he would accept. But the note had said they wanted to talk about Amir - her adored younger brother Amir. She realised now how worried she had been about him, how much she had wanted to know where he was, how fearful she had grown that something had happened to him. It had been a relief to learn he was being held in Paris - at least he was alive - but a new wave of worries had set in then. He was alive, but she had no confidence that she would see him again soon. Concern and plain curiosity won over caution. Tahira took a deep breath and turned into the park through the open gate. She went to sit on the bench, trying to slow down her breathing. She heard a step behind her, then the woman was sitting on the bench beside her. ‘It’s quite safe, Tahira,’ she said soothingly, ‘there’s no one else around’. ‘What happened to Amir?’ ‘He’s fine. Still in Paris, but there’s a good chance he will be coming back to this country. Then it might be possible for you to visit him.’ ‘Really?’ she asked, hope overcoming the suspicion in her voice. ‘When?’ ‘Soon. I can’t tell you an exact date. Weeks rather than months. But you can help him before then.’ ‘Me? How?’ ‘We need to know what happened to your brother. Someone got to him; someone perhaps persuaded him to leave home. We think it might have been at the mosque.’ ‘Of course it was at the mosque,’ hissed Tahira crossly. There wasn’t any doubt in her mind. ‘He should never have switched.’ ‘To the Springfield Mosque?’
‘Yes.’ ‘Did some of his friends switch as well?’ ‘Not that I know of. But he made new friends there. That was part of the problem - none of us knew any of them, or their families. Suddenly he was with a different set.’ ‘Did they go to Pakistan as well?’ ‘Yes.’ She had learned two names and said them aloud now. ‘What happened to them?’ ‘I don’t know for sure. But neither has come back to Birmingham.’ ‘Were they students of the same imam?’ The woman’s voice was calm but insistent. ‘There is only one imam at that mosque. Abdi Bakri. He sent them all to Pakistan. My father doesn’t realise that - he still thinks Amir went to see the family there and work for our cousin.’ She frowned, thinking of her father’s naiveté. ‘Do you know anything about this Abdi Bakri?’ Tahira shook her head. ‘Only that he hasn’t been in Birmingham more than a few years.’ ‘Was he in Pakistan before that?’ ‘Pakistan? I don’t think so. He’s North African. But why, is that important?’ ‘It could be very important.’ ‘I suppose I could try and find out.’ And as Tahira spoke the words, Liz knew she had a new agent. Did Tahira realise what she’d volunteered for? She would soon find out.
Nina Sheeran (Bryon, 1949) ‘Tealeaves Under the Bed’ (Pen Press) After leaving NGHS you went straight into training to become a nurse. How did you decide on this profession and what influenced your decisions? I had always wanted to be a nurse from the age of about 4 or 5 as you will see from a photo near the beginning of the book. People tried to change my mind as they didn’t think I would be strong enough, and I was almost persuaded to teach little children instead. It was really children whom I loved and I wanted to do children’s nursing but my GP advised me to do general nursing and specialise afterwards. I wanted to be married, so the specialising was with my own babies! My GP also advised me to go to a London hospital rather than the provinces in order to have really good training. Your novel “Tea leaves Under The Bed” is an account of your time as a student nurse in the 1950s, how did the novel come about? Nearly three years ago I had a very big operation on my spine to relieve the pain I had from arthritis. I was a little bored with being sedentary during my recovery period so decided to sort out all the letters I
had written to my parents during my training. Having done that my grand-daughters said they thought I should write a book and this is the result! When you were writing the letters to your parents did you intend for them to be published? No, I didn’t give writing a book a single thought when I was writing the letters. It is a great achievement having a published novel, how did you go about getting your novel published? I tried three other agencies and finally tried Penpress and was very pleased with them. The book covers significant moments in your life; do you have a favourite chapter? Yes. My favourite is “Christmas on Bond Street ” Finally, what is your fondest memory of NGHS? My fondest memory of NGHS is the comradeship and the relationship with staff in the sixth form. We were treated with so much respect and given privileges as “adults”. We worked very, very hard for A levels but enjoyed wonderful friendships with the other sixth formers, which is proved by the fact that we are all
very happy together 60 years on! One of my most exciting times was in lower prep when we built a little shop out of boxes, with a counter and a space behind for serving our goods. We made little carrots and potatoes and beans and fruit out of plaster and painted them. We had cardboard money, and went shopping taking turns in serving or being customers. I absolutely loved it! A very good way of learning about money!
Penelope Bush (1981) ‘Alice in time’ (Picadilly Press)
What did you do immediately after leaving NGHS? I went to Bilborough College in 1981 to do my A levels and then I did an Art Foundation course at Mansfield. I wanted to be a tapestry weaver. A year later I managed to get an apprenticeship at the only tapestry studio in England at West
Dean. I worked there for ten years on tapestry commissions for Henry Moore, John Piper, Adrian Berg, Sun Oil, Sun Alliance, Barclays Bank, the Mercers Company and many more. Finally my back gave out and I did a degree in English and History in 1993-6. I took an MA in Creative Writing in 2007-9 at Chichester University. Your first novel, named ‘Alice in time’, focuses on the dilemmas of
teenage life. What inspired this topic? Teenagers provide such fertile ground to write about. All teenagers have dilemmas, either real or imagined. I was wondering what it would be like to travel back in one’s own life and re-live a period of it with the knowledge of one’s older self. I decided it would make a good story and after a lot of thought, Alice was
born. Although she only travels back seven years in time there is a huge difference between being seven and being fourteen. An adult doesn't change too much in that time period but for a child there is so much change and I wanted to highlight this. It was great fun writing about Alice as a seven year old, behaving like a teenager and shocking her mother. She soon realises that her behaviour is inappropriate and tries to come across more like a child but doesn't find it easy. I thought this would make teenagers assess their own behaviour and help them realise how far they'd come in such a short time. The age of fourteen is difficult because you are neither an adult nor a child and yet you're treated as both. It's all very confusing. I’ve found that mothers of teenage daughters enjoy this book as much as the girls themselves. How did the title ‘Alice in time’ come about? I originally called the book ‘7up’ but the publishers, Piccadilly Press, didn’t like it. I suggested ‘Round About’ but they didn’t like that either so I let them choose and they
decided on ‘Alice in time’. I suppose my titles didn’t say anything about the story, which is why I’ve called my next book ‘The Diary of a Lottery Winner’s Daughter’.
you send your book off and it gets rejected don’t give up and don’t take it personally. Keep revising your book and sending it out. Even J.K.Rowling had rejection letters.
Do you see any of yourself in Alice? No, not really. I love to make things up and so my characters are always very unlike me. It adds to the excitement of writing. Alice is an angry, disgruntled teenager at the beginning of the book. It was difficult writing a character with those kinds of traits and trying to make her likeable.
Finally, what are your fondest memories of NGHS? You never forget a good teacher and my English teacher, Mrs Percival, was the best. She was such a wonderful teacher and always encouraged me, even though I was quite naughty and disruptive. Her belief in me has had a lasting effect and I'll always be grateful to her for that. I dedicated my first book to her because although I wasn’t the easiest pupil to teach she never wrote me off and her enthusiasm and dedication stayed with me. Two other favourites were Dr Hill and Mrs Holland.
I am the youngest of four girls so I have three older sisters. Family and sibling relationships have always fascinated me. You get to choose your friends but not your family. The bigger the family the more difficult it is to carve out your own identity. I can see this developing into a theme in my writing. For all those budding authors among our alumnae, do you have any writing tips? Yes, get a dishwasher and a pair of earplugs! I don’t have the luxury of a study where I can shut the door on the rest of the world. When I first started writing I thought I needed solitude and quiet so I bought a caravan and worked in there. When I got a three book deal with Piccadilly Press I realised I would have to learn to combine my writing and my life in a better way. When the cats are running round the house, my partner’s cooking dinner and our son is on the Play Station blowing things up, I put my earplugs in and am blissfully unaware. Don’t think that you need great swathes of uninterrupted time either. Ten minutes snatched here or there is better than nothing. One sentence is better than nothing; eventually they all add up, like building a house brick by brick. Above all, stop making excuses. The dusting can wait; it will still be there when you’ve finished your novel. You need to be stubborn. If
Alice in Time has sold in Scandinavia, Korea, Poland and America. It is available from Waterstones and Amazon. Penelope’s second book, The Diary of a Lottery Winner’s Daughter, is available from July.
Frances Thimann (1962) ‘Cello & other stories’
that (at least in this country) short stories don’t seem to be enough. No one asks poets when they will write a short story!
(Pewter Rose Press)
What did you do immediately after leaving NGHS? I went to Bristol University and gained a BA in Music, which by that time had become my main preoccupation. I never became a professional musician, but music has remained a major interest all my life. You have just published your first collection of short stories; how did this come about? Although I left Nottingham after leaving school, and pursued my studies and career elsewhere, I returned in 1999 to support my elderly mother. By that time, I was more-or-less retired, and in due course, I enrolled at Nottingham Trent University for an MA in Creative Writing. I had been writing for many years before I returned here, though only in my spare time, and with no real result. It all happened almost by chance, a literary event at Waterstone‘s which on a rainy evening I almost didn‘t attend; a chance encounter there with another writer who encouraged me to try for it - and I was very lucky to find such a well-established course here in Nottingham. I doubt if I would ever have done anything similar if I had remained in London, where I was working for most of my professional life. The studies and workshops, and the friends and contacts made at NTU (especially Anne McDonald, of Pewter Rose Press) led directly to the publication of the collection, which was based on the short stories which made up my dissertation. The stories focus on old age, why did you choose this topic? At the time I embarked upon the MA, I was very conscious of old
age and its complexities, having been looking after my mother. I became increasingly aware of the fact that fiction and the media today seem to present a very distorted and one-sided view of the subject. The elderly are portrayed either as figures of fun, or as sad victims of neglect and abuse, or as burdens to their families and to society. I wanted to portray a different, more sympathetic view. How did you come to write short stories? Perhaps they are what most writers start with, under the mistaken impression that they are easier and quicker to write and to get published than a novel. Certainly, they are less demanding of a long-term commitment, so may be more attractive to those who are still working, studying, or raising a family, and of course many writers start while they are occupied with these things.
For all those budding authors among our alumnae, do you have any writing tips? Yes! Keep going, persevere, both with your writing and with efforts to get published. Don’t struggle in isolation, but join a group of writers, or enrol on a course of some sort. Take all the advice you can, study the writing you admire and keep abreast of what is being produced today, but write what you want to write, what is important and individual to you, and in the way you want to write it. Don’t repeat the same word too often in one sentence! Finally what are your fondest memories of NGHS? The school itself, since I have always liked interesting old buildings! The Arboretum was and still is beautiful. I have fond memories of some individuals, both pupils and teachers. I retain great respect for the high academic standards of the teaching. I particularly remember the school plays, and some of the wonderful actresses we always seemed to have to act in them.
Do you think you will write a novel? I would like to, and have plans, but am not sure if that is what I will be best at. Several brilliant short-story writers have produced novels that are less good than their stories. It is a very different sort of writing, though no doubt a professional writer ought to be able to write in various ways and various forms. I rather regret that it always seems
CLASS OF 1970, 40 YEAR REUNION Our class of 1970 got together for an afternoon at school. They enjoyed tours, reminiscing on old lessons and teachers, as well as catching up on the last 40 years.
FRIENDS OF NGHS SPRING LUNCH 2010 Our annual spring lunch was a fantastic success with over 80 attendees. With an age range from 30-104 we really covered a wide spectrum. There were musical performances from the NGHS choir, it was a delightful afternoon.
CLASS OF 2010, CHRISTMAS REUNION We welcomed back the class of 2010 for a Christmas reunion, they enjoyed the opportunity to fill teachers in on the first term at university and catch up with each other.
CLASS OF 1980, 30 YEAR REUNION We were delighted to host a tour of the school for the class of 1980 30 year reunion. Organised by Nicky Benson (Davies) and Michelle Fischer (Aitken).
5 YEAR REUNION, CLASS OF 2005 The class of 2005 enjoyed an exclusive shopping evening at Reiss in Nottingham. With 10% discount they made the most of it and shopped until they dropped!
CLASS OF 2010, FAREWELL PARTY Our class of 2010 farewell party was a wonderful way to say goodbye. The summer event included parents and the girls and was a lovely way to wish them luck for their exams and the future.
CLASS OF 1949, 80TH BIRTHDAY PARTY Twenty two 1949 leavers spent an afternoon reminiscing about their school days. They enjoyed lunch, a tour of the school and there was lots of laughter to be heard.
MY TRIP TO HAITI Nicky David (Renyard,1967) Earlier this year I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti with a group of volunteers with a Guernsey-based charity, ‘Bridge2Haiti.’ This is a charity which was set up by Sarah Griffith soon after the earthquake in January, along the same lines as a similar charity ‘Bridge2SriLanka’ which she set up following the tsunami in Asia. Funds are raised locally and then used to provide aid and to fund work alongside small groups of people to help them to build their lives again, regain some of their dignity and become self sufficient. The charity does not set out to “change the world” but to make a real difference to a few small communities, and ensures that all money raised goes directly to the people.
Where to begin? My senses were bombarded with so much information that even now it is hard to make sense of it all and to pick out the most salient points. So here are just a few of my impressions of Haiti and what we did during our short trip there. Although a lot of clearing has been done since the earthquake on 12th January, and some rebuilding has started, there are still a huge number of people living in overcrowded and very inadequate and insanitary conditions. This compounds a situation where the majority of the population were already very poor, had no work, and
the camp to run clinics themselves. Problems included conjunctivitis, chest infections, STDs, wounds and headaches. We also did a lot of craft activities with the children, played games and sang with them. The mothers were pleased when we nursed their babies so they could get on with their washing. We didn’t mind!
were living in shanty towns. Imagine what it will be like for the occupants of these shelters when it rains! We did a lot of work with the people living on ‘Camp Laska’ which the Bridge2Haiti team fixed up with Shelter Box tents, food, proper latrines and a clean water supply on their first visit. This camp is well run by a ‘committee’ who regulate food distribution and camp organisation and have started to build a new school to replace the one which was damaged in the earthquake. They made us very welcome and cooked several meals for us and gave us occasional treats such as fresh coconuts.
The next stage of the project is help the camp to move to a more permanent site and to hopefully buy some land and set up a chicken farm cooperative for them so they can start to be self-sufficient again. We also found an isolated orphanage where the children were malnourished, ill, and unstimulated. We took them fruit and played games with them, and arranged visits and ongoing support from a team of doctors from the Cuban camp.
We ran ‘clinics’ to identify people who needed medical treatment and were able to take them to a nearby Cuban Field Hospital to see doctors and get medication, and also arranged for two doctors to visit
At a larger and much worse-off camp than Camp Laska, we worked all day, identifying people requiring medical help and again brought two doctors to the camp. Problems included malaria, chest infections, scabies, and wounds. One elderly lady with leg ulcers was carried from her shack two fields away to be seen. I found this quite difficult as I knew that had she lived in Guernsey, we could have probably got her healed within a few weeks, but it is unlikely she will be able to access the treatment she needs. We
found about a quarter of the adults suffered from high blood pressure, (apparently common in Caribbean races), but it was hard to explain to people that they needed to return to a clinic for ongoing supplies of medication once the initial prescription had run out. Whilst some of us ‘ran’ the clinic, others entertained the children with crafts and games, and set up a rope swing for them. This all took place in the shade of a large tree and was very noisy! The nurses in the group also helped out at clinics in a recently reopened hospital in Léogane, and a Field Hospital run by Americans. Conditions were very primitive and there was little privacy. Some of the post-natal patients did not want to go home, presumably because the conditions in the hospital were so much better than at home. Haiti was extremely hot! In fact, I had never experienced heat like it and tried to get to sleep by putting a wet flannel on my head! The downside of the heat was that it restricted the type of games and activities we could do with the children. The upside was that our washing dried very quickly and we could use the WARM sea near our rather poor living accommodation as a bathroom! The house we were staying in had a very intermittent electricity supply, only occasional running water and an interesting collection of pets. This included
geckoes, rats, cockroaches, bats, frogs and tarantulas! The streets in Haiti are very crowded and the driving of the numerous vehicles, many overloaded in a very precarious way, has to be seen to be believed. Avoiding fissures and potholes in the road caused by the earthquake was a hazard only secondary to the avoidance of traffic on the wrong side of the road, or without lights in the dark. I doubt if many vehicles would pass an MOT test! Most people walked, or took lifts in the highly decorated taxibuses known as Tap-Taps.
Most vending was done at the side of the road, as was the cooking, often in quite insanitary conditions. We enjoyed locally cooked food and fresh mangoes and coconuts. After a rather strange ‘Holy Week’, I was fortunate to be able to join the Anglican community in Léogane for a Eucharist service on Easter morning. It was really humbling to see the people in their ‘Sunday Best’ praising the Risen Christ with such joy and sincerity after all they have been through. The service lasted two and a half hours! It was held outdoors under a tarpaulin, alongside their Church which is no longer safe to us. I hope this gives you a little flavour of what it is like to be in Haiti. We
only scratched the surface, but as our leader Sarah has said, “it may only seem like a little drop in the ocean but the ocean is made up of a lot of drops.”
Update In August, Sarah Griffith and two volunteers travelled back to Haiti to continue the charity’s work there. Here is a short summary of their activities and findings: The community of ‘Camp Laska’ near Léogane have moved off the school land and set up camp across the road on the site of their former houses. A plot of land has been bought for them, to set up a chicken farm co-operative there. Nineteen families have signed up to the project and a manager and small committee have been elected to run it. The charity has provided money to buy the materials to build a boundary wall, and will fund the first batch of chickens, materials to build coops, and feed to get them started. If the farm is a success, the families will be able to start supporting themselves and regain some of their dignity. Kenley, the young boy who lost his leg in the earthquake, was found in Port au Prince where his Mother lives and works. He has been fitted with a limb but it is badly fitting and too painful to wear. Kenley is embarrassed to attend school without a proper prosthesis, so is not going. Sarah is going to try to find someone to help him get a properly fitting limb and rehabilitation. They visited the Léogane orphanage where we had found the children maltreated and malnourished. Unfortunately the Cuban Doctors who had set up a support programme for them have now left the area, and the children are still in a poor state. They gave them all a dose of vitamins followed by a bag of sweets each.
Some Haiti Statistics Even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the world. Average life expectancy is 60.9 years. 1 in 9 people have HIV/AIDS Less than 65% children attend Primary school. 1/3 women of child-bearing age are pregnant. 1 in 5 children die at birth or before they reach the age of 5. The earthquake on 12th January lasted 40 seconds; the damage it caused was done in only 15. The Haiti government pays ‘gangs’ of workers $8½ a day (about £5) to clear rubble in intense heat.
The group also visited another orphanage in Port au Prince. Here the children seemed happier, but they were very hungry and dirty as there was no money to buy any supplies. They were also four months in arrears with the rent. (Their pre-earthquake sources of donations had all dried up.) Sarah used charity money to help with the rent, and to buy food, toiletries and cleaning materials. The three of them also spent two very hot mornings clearing refuse from a yard, so that the children now have somewhere to play. They visited a very remote village school high in the mountains. Here the schoolmaster was struggling to cope with over 80 children in a makeshift building. Prior to the earthquake there had been four classrooms but these were destroyed. As a result of negotiations with UNICEF, Sarah has managed to procure a large marquee for the school to use as a teaching area, and this will be transported up the mountain with charity funding.
A note on Nicky David (Renyard) I left the Upper Sixth at NGHS in 1967 and went to King’s College Hospital, London, to do my general nursing training. After qualifying, I moved to Peterborough to work. This is where I met my husband, John, (in a belfry!) and we moved to Guernsey in 1977.
After a gap in my career and 3 children later, I returned to nursing, and eventually did a District Nurse qualification at the University of Southampton. I retired last year and have been able to increase the time I devote to other interests including archaeology, bell ringing and singing, all of which I have had since I was at school!
A RISING STAR: Bianca Claxton (2008) While at school Bianca Claxton wowed audiences with her amazing voice, and her beautiful cello recitals. It was undeniable that she had a natural talent and was destined to perform. Today Bianca is a member of the country’s biggest up and coming girl band, Parade. Their catchy debut single hit the charts at number 10, and the girls are fast becoming household names. The band is signed to Atlantic Records, who are responsible for bringing us the likes of James Blunt, T.I. and Jason Mraz. So how did Bianca go from NGHS to stardom? Bianca was all set to begin the long journey into the world of music; she did not expect to land a spot in one of the hottest girl bands of the moment, after her first audition. Things have moved very quickly for this- soon to be- world famous alumna, she has moved to London, lives with the girls who are all best friends, and has been jet setting to Los Angeles recording albums and music videos. Quite an achievement considering she was only treading the boards at NGHS in the summer of 2009.
She commented: “A year and a half after a long audition process and being signed to Atlantic Records, we can proudly say that our first single, ‘Louder’ went straight into the top 10 in the UK chart! Still can’t quite believe it. The girls and I are having so much fun. We’ve had such an amazing time leading up to this point - recording our album in Los Angeles, Sweden and London working with some incredible writers and producers.” “It has been an amazing year, with highlights including supporting both Alexandra Burke and Shakira on tour and, of course, being involved in the new Rimmel advertising campaign.” The girls are working tirelessly promoting the band and the single, while working on the album. Amid all this they also manage to find the time to support various charities, Bianca continues: “We’ve also been lucky enough to be associated with various charities, including the Caron Keating Foundation and fresh2o for whom we recently took part in an underwater photo shoot!”
“We’ve had an amazing 2010 and start of 2011. We’re so lucky to be doing what we love and hope the rest of the year continues in the same way it has begun!” It has been a rapid adjustment for Bianca, the youngest member of the band, quite a world away from Nottingham and NGHS. Bianca did find time in her hectic schedule to come back to the school and perform along with other band members, Emily, Jessica, Lauren and Sian. This included an incredible rendition of Cee Lo Green’s ‘Forget you’ and their debut single ‘Louder’. Susan Gorham, headmistress, commented: “They really got the crowd going and it was clear to see that they are very talented and going to be great. ”Bianca is understandably over the moon at the early success of the band.” We wish Bianca and Parade every success for the future.
REVIEWS We caught up with the staff book club to find out which books are worth reading this year... When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson This is the third book to feature private detective Jackson Brodie, but it can be enjoyed on its own. The book starts in the past when a six year old girl witnesses the horrific murder of her mother, sister and baby brother. Thirty years on, the murderer has been released and the author gives us a cast of distinctive and memorable characters brought together by a series of coincidences and interwoven plot lines. This is not a classic ‘who dunnit’; it is a novel concerned with the impact of crime on individuals. The writing is darkly funny with moments of real pathos and although the twists and turns of the plot are a bit hard to swallow at times, Atkinson is a master of wry phrases and ironic observations. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters Set in rural Warwickshire just after the end of the Second World War, the novel is narrated in a deliberately plodding style by the rather dull Doctor Faraday. Uneasy with his social status, Doctor Faraday becomes enamoured with the family that have owned Hundreds Hall for generations. Mother, son and daughter are struggling to keep pace with a changing society and it
would appear that the increasingly dilapidated house is being haunted by some sort of malign force. Part ghost story, part psychological thriller, part mystery, the book is also a precise evocation of the difficulties of the post-war era. We can see the breaking down of the class system, the problems with the economy and housing, the worries about the introduction of the NHS. The ending is ambiguous and unsatisfying to some, but this is a book that lingers in the imagination. deaf sentence by David Lodge Desmond Bates is a retired professor of linguistics and he is going deaf. He is a rather silly aging man, struggling to come to terms with the changes in his life. His inability to hear properly leads him into all sorts of awkward and comic situations. His relationships with the people around him - an attractive research student, his old dad and his younger wife all have to be reassessed. The novel recounts his embarrassments in excruciating detail and as he gradually comes to accept life as it has to be lived, we are given a funny and affectionate view of human frailty. Dissolution by C.J. Sansom Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved.
But in a monastery on the Sussex coast, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner, Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege. Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake’s investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes.This is a great murder mystery packed with fascinating historical detail. Rowan The Strange by Julie Hearn As war breaks out in 1945, Rowan finds it increasingly difficult to control his intense moods of panic and anger and when he injures his sister, his parents reluctantly commit him to an asylum. What follows is a compassionate, intelligent tale of a young schizophrenic boy and the experimental treatment he receives at a psychiatric hospital for the insane. The author cleverly handles her themes: the upheaval of the war, the exclusion felt by the patients from mainstream society, the lack of control they have over their bodies and their futures, the casual cruelty of the most of the staff, the undercurrent of racism for the only kind doctor who is German, and the doctor’s own feelings about what is going on in the hospital and in his own country. Throughout, this heartfelt story is sensitively handled with a great eye for detail. Although marketed at teenagers it is a riveting read for anyone.
AN INTERVIEW WITH OLIVIA SCRIMSHAW Thomas Scrimshaw established Scrimshaw’s Ltd in the 1930s. He ran a chain of butchers and confectionary stores and became renowned for his succulent pork pies and sausages. Today, Scrimshaw’s Pork Pies is run by granddaughter Olivia Scrimshaw. We caught up with Olivia who left NGHS after her GCSEs in 1996 to see what it is like to run one of Nottinghamshire’s heritage brands. Scrimshaw’s Ltd shop on Upper Parliament Street
thinking about reviving the family business. I talked about it for many years, did plenty of research and ate a lot of different pork pies with friends and family to canvass opinions. I realised that there are few things in life more disappointing than a bad pork pie and few things more satisfying than a good one.
How did you come to revive the company? What did you do at university and was this with the family business in mind? Sadly, my grandfather Thomas died in 1949 at the early age of 42. My Dad and his two sisters were very young so with no family successor of adult age to take over the business, my Grandma Winifred and the company directors sold it on.
I therefore embarked upon finding a butcher to make my pork pies for me and was introduced to a great butcher at the end of last year. I relaunched the business in December in time for Christmas orders and have grown the stockists list from there. I am currently still working whilst I build the business in my evening and weekend time. A salary is a necessity, so for now I am juggling the two. Scrimshaw’s Ltd was a well-known brand throughout Nottinghamshire with 13 shops across the county. The Friar Lane shop was hit during WWII, but the company recovered
and re-opened a few doors away just weeks after the bombing. Today stockists include Harvey Nichols, how have you modernised the brand to fit into such high-end stores? A few years ago one of Dad’s sisters, Auntie Judy, gave me a photograph of the Nottingham trolleybus (as pictured) advertising my Grandfather’s business. I wanted the heritage of the business to play the lead in the brand so I used this image as my logo alongside a modern typeface for the company name. The pies are wrapped in black tissue paper, which gives them a touch of class and makes them stand out behind the Deli counter. The combination of the branding, the story and the great taste of the pies has been key to getting my foot in the door with the likes of Harvey Nichols. I have done several in-store sampling days to help build the brand and generate sales. People have been very receptive to the
As a family we love pork pies! Mainly because of the family history, but also because we lived in a village close to the well known pork pie producing town of Melton Mowbray. Pork pies were often bought and eaten at family gatherings, whilst those that remembered reminisced about the Scrimshaw’s business. I studied sociology at Bristol University and when I left in 2001 I started my career in branding and marketing at a design agency in London. I went on to work for several different agencies as a brand strategist, advising companies on their brand positioning and devising and implementing marketing plans to launch new companies and products. Brand heritage and provenance are great selling points so with this in mind I started
product list over time along with other traditional British foods. Wedding Pork Pies are becoming an increasingly popular addition or in some cases an alternative to traditional cake. I have several orders placed for summer weddings with more enquiries coming in so this is another market for me to continue to target.
story and the taste of the pork pies - it’s invaluable market research speaking to the customers and getting their feedback. Are you using the original Scrimshaw’s recipe? I have adapted the original recipe for today’s palates. The ingredients have been refined and today the pies are hand raised in Melton Mowbray and therefore carry the European Protected Geographical Indicator mark. What does the future hold for Scrimshaw’s Pork Pies? I will be launching in Selfridges Food Hall in London over the summer, so with another great name on the stockists list I hope to continue to grow the distribution of my pies in London and Nottinghamshire (for now). My parents have been an amazing help and look after local deliveries for me each week whilst I use a refrigeration service to transport the pies down to London. I have recently been showcasing at several food festivals in London where I have been trialling a range of accompaniments such as chutneys and piccalilli with the intention to roll these out as the year progresses. My grandfather was also renowned for his sausages so I will look to add these to the
Eventually I would love to be as successful as my Grandfather was with his chain of shops, but focussing on the whole of the UK instead of simply Nottinghamshire. You’ve got to have a dream! What advice would you give to any budding entrepreneurs within our alumnae community? Do your research and be prepared for a lot of hard work - it’s not a 9 ‘til 5 job! Make sure you are committed and passionate about your product or idea and sound out your friends and family for advice. Just remember though that they might need a break from hearing about it from time to time! Don’t become boring! My boyfriend has recently imposed a ‘no Pork Pie talking or eating’ rule one night a week! And most importantly get your figures right! I have become slightly obsessed with spreadsheets but it is reassuring to see the numbers begin
to translate into profit. Finally what are your fondest memories of NGHS? There are lots of great memories but here are just a few: Meeting life long friends. English classes with Mrs Stewart. Playing tennis on the black all weather courts. Discos with the Boys’ High School! Suzuki violin lessons with Mr Wileman. The Lamcote school bus. Lunch breaks in the Arboretum Oh and of course studying! I haven’t been back to Arboretum Street for a while and I’m excited about coming along to NGHS with my pork pies to the Creative Showcase on July 2nd and seeing the school again. My Mum is an old girl too so we’ll both be there to have a reminisce. She met my Dad (a former Boys’ High School pupil) whilst at NGHS and they have just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, congratulations Mum and Dad! You can find out more about the revival of this Nottingham brand and current stockists at www. scrimshawsporkpies.com If you have any memories about the original Scrimshaw’s Ltd, please email email@example.com
MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS Many of our alumnae form a family line of mothers and daughters who have both walked through the gates of NGHS as students. We caught up with a few to hear their memories and see what changes have taken place over the generations.
Anne, Vicki and Melissa Anne Wilson (Garton, 1962)
I was younger I also finished up with a detention for being found three times by the prefects hiding behind coats in the cloakroom rather than going out to play. (Yes, going out at break in all but extreme weather was compulsory). I never liked ‘going out to play’! Berets (and uniform) were compulsory in the Sixth Form. I remember being ticked off for cutting a hole in my beret to fit my long pony tail through.
Vicki Wilson (1988) Melissa Wilson (1993) When I passed the 11+ and obtained a place at NGHS my parents did not even know where the school was! My days at NGHS were a wonderful eye opener. I was a first generation grammar school girl and my father was determined that I would follow his footsteps into the factory at the earliest opportunity. He reckoned without the determination and most importantly the aspiration that my NGHS education had engendered! Thanks to the loving care of the Headmistress and staff I completed my education and finished up on the staff of NGHS teaching Biology, with two degrees and a Fellowship under
my belt! I hope that my father would have been pleased even if he did not fully understand what it all meant. Life in school was more formal in the ‘50s and early ‘60s. However, we got up to the usual tricks that pupils get up to. I would like to think they were more subtle but sliding down the banisters in A Block (Clarence Lodge) and landing at Miss Milford’s feet was anything but subtle! When
However, I loved the broad education I received. Mrs Roberts, an inspirational Biology teacher, developed in me the passion for the subject which determined my career - a passion that is still with me today; Miss Garner, whose Maths lessons were so interesting, and Mrs Clark who taught me Botany in the Sixth Form and eventually became my Head of Department.
en route to sick bay. Is she ill I enquired anxiously? “No”, was the reply. “She is hungry! I am going to get her a biscuit and glass of milk.” I was speechless, knowing my daughter as well as I did!
It was a source of great pride when my daughters did well enough in the entrance tests to join the school. By then I was on the staff and they remember with glee that I had told them that they did not have a ‘mum’ between 9 and 4. It was ‘Mrs Wilson’! I had mentioned to the Junior School staff that my younger daughter, Melissa, had very persuasive dark eyes. Imagine my surprise to find the School Nurse walking her down the covered way
My eldest daughter, Vicki, remembers with affection her Maths lessons with Miss Garner. Miss Garner taught both of my daughters and me. On one occasion, I helped Vicki with her Maths homework and got one wrong. She confessed that I had done it. The following day in the staff room Miss Garner came up to me and said, “sit down. I have been trying to teach you how to do this for 30 years and you still can’t get it right!” This caused much merriment amongst my colleagues. Vicki remembers the 10 short questions which preceded all Miss Garner’s lessons. When she took her final accountancy exam she was very nervous until she remembered the 10 short questions which she gives credit for calming her down and resulting in success! I suspect that my daughters only fully realised the value of their NGHS education when they started work. Their presentation skills, agility of thought and aspiration have provided them with successful
careers. As for myself, there are so many staff who contributed to the person I now am and that is perhaps the most important truth about NGHS. The skill and commitment of the staff provides not only an excellent education but also an environment in which a young woman can thrive and grow. This is beyond price - something that I and my daughters are agreed on.
Lynne and Sarah Lynne Morgan (Hoskins, 1973) I was at NGHS from 1962 – 1973. My favourite thing about NGHS was the amazing camaraderie and the fun we had. I made some amazing friends, many of whom I still see nearly 50 years later. I remember we used to camp in each others’ gardens overnight, at times the classroom would be piled high with tents and sleeping bags in preparation!
My favourite lesson was Spanish O’Level in the Sixth Form - because we did it in conjunction with the Boys’ High! I remember the school was scary at times, the cellars in A Block and under the old Junior School were very spooky and the top path in the Arboretum bordering the playgrounds was forbidden due to the many ‘undesirables’ that frequented it at the time.
Sarah Morgan (2005) I was at NGHS from 1994 - 2005. I enjoyed it very much and loved everything especially seeing great friends every day! I enjoyed Art and Chemistry the most. I can’t really think of things which I disliked now, I remember the little rooms at the very top of A Block were always a bit off the beaten track and quite isolated, they were quite scary.
There were not many things I disliked at school. I remember I didn’t like Geography taught by Miss Kirkland, the dreaded gym which is now the drama studio, and the freezing showers at the Redhill playing fields. I remember the miserable portion of butterscotch sauce that was served at Swinnerton Hall, whenever we had ice cream for pudding no amount of bribery would ever persuade the dinner ladies to give you more!
Maggi and Sarah Margaret Dunn (Pilkington, 1968) I was seven when I started at NGHS, in the Upper Prep (UPB if I remember correctly). To get to our form room you went through the cloakroom and it was on the left overlooking the playground. It was a lovely light room and to me it just felt right. I now realise that it was the proportions and architectural features that appealed to me, as with the rest of the school. My previous school had been a fairly large Victorian building with high ceilings and windows, presumably so we couldn’t waste time looking out
of them, which was quite gloomy and the loos were outside across the playground. It was a complete contrast to my new surroundings. At that time we were allowed to take various toys which could be kept at school. We all had stilts, a pogo stick and the very latest craze - a hula hoop. Housing all of these must have been a real nightmare for the caretaker and the cleaning staff. The items all lived in an alcove in the cloakroom with a rope across to stop them from rolling around. The cloakroom was overflowing with our possessions. We each had two shoebags - one for gym kit the other for indoor shoes and, of course,
the overall. Shoebags, overall, gym knickers etc were all embroidered with our names in inch high letters. I remember my mother bemoaning the length of my name while she sat on the beach at Llandudno doing the embroidery. I only ever had the one pair of gym knickers. They were bought several sizes too big in order for my name to fit the available space. Arboretum Street was a very different place when I first knew it. Where the Milford Building and the playing fields are now was all housing and there was a church on the corner. This was later deconsecrated and used as a paper
warehouse before being demolished. The only area that was part of the school was what I know as the New Chem Lab. This is the rather dated looking square building between Milford and the Dining Hall and was opened in, I think, my Upper Third year in 1962 or thereabouts. Before that it was known as ‘The Little Field’ and was where we did games and held Sports Day in the Prep and Junior School. There was also a hut which was the music room. As I moved up through the school some changes were creeping in. As I went through Upper Prep and First Form I had been looking forward to moving into the Junior School and having a garden plot. The garden to the house was divided into small beds that were tended by the girls. They were allowed to grow whatever they wanted so there was a lovely mix of flowers and veg. Imagine my disappointment to arrive back at school in September to find the garden gone and a netball court in its place. It is now, along with the Prep playground, a staff car park. Going up to the ‘big’ school was amazing. Each year we had been on a tour and couldn’t imagine how we would ever find our way around - but now we were there! I was in UIIIG with Miss Garner as my form mistress and we were in C2. At least I think so. The room was behind the little square changing room at the bottom of the covered way opposite the gym. It also doubled up as our cloakroom. Just outside was where Mr Jones, the caretaker, sold sticky buns at break. I seem to remember that he had a little room somewhere there. The room next to our form room was part of the Library where the fiction was housed. There were probably other sections dotted round the school but the only one I can recall was the Geography section at the covered way end of B1. All through my time at school we were raising money for The Building
Fund. We weren’t aware at the time but the school was gradually buying the properties between Arboretum Street and Forest Road. They also acquired the 2 houses next to the Junior School. These were converted into more classrooms and a new library. As a form we got up to a few tricks that we thought incredibly naughty at the time but in hindsight were really quite mild. Probably about Lower Fourth, the whole form hid in the storeroom in North Studio while Miss Stanway ran all over the school looking for us. Why she didn’t look in there I can’t think because we most likely weren’t the first and we definitely weren’t the last form to do so. I had a very happy time at school and had no hesitation in sending my daughter there too. One of the oddest aspects of having your daughter follow in your footsteps is going to Parents’ Evening and seeing your own teachers. It certainly made you sit up straight!
Sarah White (Dunn, 1989) I can still remember Kindergarten when I first joined the school in 1976. It was in Prep or P Block, now Philipps House, and my peg in the cloakroom had a poppy on it. Our classroom was a huge room overlooking the playground with a Wendy House in one corner, a big bay window where we played in the sand/water tray, an enormous bookcase separating off the reading area and the cushioned area where we would sit and listen to Mrs Gell, our teacher. Now, as I go in the Careers Room, although the physical dimensions remain unchanged, the room has clearly diminished. At lunch time we would walk in twos, hand in hand, round the corner to Swinnerton Hall on Colville Street. Afterwards we would go down to the Little Hall, collect our blankets and pillows from the cupboard and settle down for nap time while Miss Barnard read to us. My favourite was always The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark. On Wednesdays and Fridays we had a half day. On Friday mornings we had swimming lessons with Mrs Kipping at Noel Street swimming baths.
Halfway up the stairs in P Block was the aptly named Halfway House where Mrs Batterbury, the School Nurse, spent her days patching knees and administering milk of magnesia. I spent a considerable amount of time in there during my time in the Junior School, which is evident by the amount of scars I still have on my knees. I notice they have now removed the brass spikes from along the banisters that were put in to stop us sliding down them after one girl fell and broke her arm. In the Upper Prep, we were split into two classes as some new girls joined us that year. I was with Mrs Corner along with the rest of the first half of the alphabet. I remember reading books from the Village with Three Corners collection; Roger Red Hat, Billy Blue Hat and Johnny and Jennifer Yellow Hat became a big part of my life then along with the Top Ten maths books which we seemed to do work from on a daily basis. Mrs Swindells was our teacher in Year 1 and we moved to Derwent House where all the Upper School classes were. My most memorable piece of information from this year was that Mrs Swindells’s brother was the Archbishop of Canterbury. In Year 2 Mrs Lees taught us how to write in italics and to knit. I think Mum still has my dish cloth somewhere. In the Lower Thirds, French lessons became a favourite part of the week and Mrs Beynon fuelled our enthusiasm with plays and songs, “Dites Moi Pourquoi” is one I can still recall. In the Lower Thirds our main teacher was Mrs Armstrong, but Miss Farrands came in on Fridays to teach History and give us a spelling test, which I seemed to always have to retake on Friday lunchtime. Moving up to Senior School to the Upper Thirds was a big step for many people, but the biggest
change for us was having our form of the last four years split up. Lots of new girls joined and we were all split alphabetically into four new classes. I was in UIIIG in C3 where we sat in alphabetical order in seven rows of four desks. Miss Garner would come into class, her catch phrase, “Class book and pencils, ten short questions,” would precede ten maths problems being written on the black board for us to complete. We had Home Economics over in Upnah House (now part of the Junior School) which involved sewing in the first term when we made ourselves an apron that could then be used during cookery in the second term. I still have (and use) my apron, but it’s been a long time since I’ve made a tuna fish jalousie. A lot of the Senior School buildings have not altered much in use or appearance. In LIVH with Mrs Hill we were up in C10 which still has the little store room at the side of it. One morning the whole class managed to hide in this cupboard to avoid going to assembly and although Dr Sanders caught us, most surprised to find 28 girls hidden in there, he did not make us all join assembly late. In UIVP with Mrs Peters we were in B4, now R4 in Radnor House. Again, this is pretty much the same as it was, apart from Sick Bay is no longer across the corridor at the bottom of the stairs to the art studio, but is now in Clarence Lodge (sorry, A block!). We were over in Milford in M20 with Mrs Cassidy in the Lower Fifth and then in the Upper Fifth in M17, one of the portacabins, known as “The Huts”, in between Milford building and the houses on the corner of Balmoral Road. Both the huts and the houses have since been knocked down to make way for the new Dining Hall. These were not the only things to go, the “mixed talking area” was taken over by the extension to the Milford building which was completed and opened the year after I left.
Our tutor room with Mr Jessop in the Sixth Form was one of the Physics labs, largely the same these days although the tiered seating has been removed and the lab refurbished. We also had a Sixth Form Common Room where would gather at break, lunch and during free periods. I imagine the current Sixth Formers would feel very hard done to if they only had what is now the Reading Room instead of their marvellous new Sixth Form Centre. Being back there now is both strange and familiar. I have been actively involved with the school since I left and was on the OGA committee for a long time, so I have seen the school grow and develop over the years. Much of the school has not changed, but the facilities and opportunities for the girls have come a long way since my time, but that is just a part of it. For me, the most important part of the school has not changed at all, the atmosphere. It is still the same welcoming, happy and friendly place it has always been.
Sarah with class mates from UVC outside M17 (the huts).
Kate and Jenny First lesson I started in the Upper III, now Year 7, in 1978. I vividly remember my first ever lesson. It was in Upnah House, which was then the Domestic Science building. It was triple cookery and we watched the teacher make flapjacks. We wore those blue smocks with our names embroidered across the front. I remember thinking, if everything was going to be as good as this, then I had come to the right place.
Kate Crowther (Russell, 1985) The Entrance Examination I remember the cold January morning I took the NGHS exam. I think my Mum was more nervous on the car journey there, than I was. I’m sure it was in C4. I remember we had to write in pencil on single sheets of paper, which would have been fine, except the desks were very old - the traditional wooden ones - and the pencil pushed through the paper as it crossed every grain in the wood. When I came out I told my Mum how hard the exam was. Some girls my Mum knew had come out before me and told her how easy it had been and that they felt sure they had passed. Imagine what Mum thought when I told her it was hard! To our delight however, I did pass strangely the girls who had thought it easy had all failed! That taught me something I never forgot! If something seems too easy, you might just have missed the point! Look again! I was very excited at the prospect of starting the big adventure the following September. I remember going to the firm Graham Gardner in Leicester to buy the school uniform and my Mum’s horror at how much it all cost.
Lunch times Lunches were a bit of a palaver. We had to walk to the end of Arboretum Street, turn right into Addison Street, then first left into Colville Street to reach Swinnerton Hall - an old and somewhat tired building. As I moved up the school, I was delighted when a new dining hall was built - actually the building which now houses the uniform shop. Lunch breaks improved as we got older. A grassed area to the front side of the Milford Building - at the side of the new tennis courts - was developed into a “Mixed Talking” Area. The girls were allowed to meet the boys from the Boys’ High School on this area of grass, but I remember Miss Lewenz, (the headmistress at the time) stressing in Assembly, “The Six Inch Rule” !!! This was the minimum distance there was to be between the girls and boys at all times. Miss Lewenz would always bring her dog Traddles into school and another popular lunchtime activity was taking Traddles for a walk in the Arboretum. This was basically a good excuse to leave the school grounds and go into the Arboretum where the High School boys were! Games and PE Games lessons took place at the school’s sports facilities at Redhill, about five miles away. In the lower years we had a special bus to take us there, but as we got older we were given 10p and told to catch the service bus. We either did hockey
(there were about five pitches), or athletics, or, if there was snow on the ground we had to do cross country runs. This involved running through the woods - in the snow dressed in our short netball skirts, our legs turning red and becoming chapped. The PE staff, I remember, waited for us in the pavilion in their ski suits. And, of course, from there, they never saw the girls who doubled-back through the woods and failed to run the complete course. I hasten to add, I was not one of them! In PE lessons we had to wear navy blue gym knickers with our name embroidered an inch high across the front. I have always been a keen sportswoman and represented the school at tennis, hockey and swimming. I was school Tennis Captain for three years. We were very fortunate to have seven girls (including me) who had all played tennis at the National Championships - making our team a formidable force to be reckoned with. We were regular winners of the Southern Trust and Northern Trust Rallies. The trophy for the Southern Trust Tennis Rally was a circular wooden shield, very heavy, about three feet in diameter with silver mountings on the front and a silver spike about six inches long at the centre. We used to travel to London by train, then tube from St. Pancras to Baron’s Court then to Queen’s Club. This tournament always took place at the same time as ‘The Championships’ over at SW19 - Wimbledon. The highlight for us, in between our own matches, was spotting the stars of the day, practising at Queens Club. I remember seeing Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe. The only tennis match I played at Redhill on grass courts caused great amusement. I was only 11 years old, but in the First VI with
the 15-18 year olds. It was the first match of the season and the grounds-man, who was new, had been asked by Miss Boyington, the games teacher, to prepare three courts for the match. Apparently he had assured her he knew how to do it. However, I don’t think he was familiar with the rules of tennis. He only mowed the actual playing area up to the baseline and outer tramlines. The rest of the court he left like a meadow, the grass and wild flowers being 2 to 3 feet high. We certainly needed to play a ‘serve and volley game’ otherwise from behind the baseline we were somewhat hampered when attempting to run through the long grass. When you took your racket back to serve, the racket was more like a scythe cutting a meadow. This was particularly awkward for me as I was so much smaller than the older girls. My daughter also played in the school tennis team - but luckily not at Redhill. She had the luxury of the newer courts, built during my time at school. When I first started, a church which was condemned as the building was in a dangerous condition, stood where the courts are. It was demolished and this gave the school room for the courts. Class room and making friends My first classroom was C4. We were put into surname order and seated at the desks which were in individual columns. I was next to Lisa Newton (now Lempard), purely by chance. We became good friends and still remain good friends to this day. Our teenage children are friends too. Bad weather arrangements! I remember snow was often an issue at school. We would regularly get sent home because of heavy snow and at the end of one term, leading up to Christmas we were sent home and told not to come back until after Christmas. This gave us three extra days holiday! I would wait for my brother from the High School and
we would walk home through the snow together. Bomb scares Bomb scares were a regular problem, especially at exam time. We would have to traipse out on to the tennis courts. A roll call would take place and then we would wait there until the fire brigade had arrived and checked all the buildings to make sure they were safe. This was exciting to start with, but it became a bore as it seemed to happen quite often. I remember once an A Level exam was taking place and all the exam candidates had to be kept separate from everyone else. Syllabus One of the subjects I took for ‘O’ Level was history. I thoroughly enjoyed it, being taught by Mrs Wallis and Miss Scott. We studied amongst other things, the History of Medicine and English Country Houses. This included visits to Sudbury, Kedleston and Hardwick Halls. Interestingly, my daughter studied the same topics in her GCSE History some twenty four years later. Amusing, but mischievous happenings At the end of one summer term, the Sixth form leavers wrote on the grass banks at the back of the hockey pitches facing the school, by spraying fertilizer. Nothing showed up initially, but when we came back to school in the September, the sprayed grass had grown much greener than the rest. In massive 6ft high capital letters displayed for all to see, was the word TITS. Even after the ground staff mowed it, the word could still be seen. It was the source of much hilarity. Christmas term entertainments There was always an enormously entertaining staff pantomime in the lead up to the Christmas holidays. It was written and produced by Miss Scott. It was amazing to see the
teachers dressed up and playing the fool and everyone loved the fact they were poking fun at themselves. I believe this carried on until quite recently, when Miss Scott left. The Sixth Form would also produce a show, usually poking fun at themselves… and the teachers. It was another thoroughly enjoyable occasion. Punishment (unfair I felt) I remember one particular lesson our teacher was not available and Mrs Cardwell an English teacher with a fearsome reputation, sat in to supervise. It was during Wimbledon and John McEnroe was the star of the day. He was described in the press as a ‘Superbrat.’ Mrs Cardwell heard me use the word ‘brat’ and was horrified. She made me write a thousand word essay ‘Define the word brat,’ to be handed to her the next day! Teachers I remember I imagine if I was a teacher I would want to work at the school and indeed many of the teachers seem to stay there for the large part of their careers. Many who taught me were still there when my daughter was at the school. Miss Messenger was a memorable and highly regarded maths teacher. I remember during one of her lessons when we were first at the school a girl put her hand up to ask to go to the toilet. Miss Messenger presumed she wanted to answer the maths question and the girl, being rather timid obliged. It wasn’t until a few minutes later when there was a puddle running towards the back of the classroom in C4 and the girl behind had to move her feet that we realised why her hand had really been raised! I remember Mrs Thomas fondly for English, even if she could be a bit scary at times. I didn’t take Art for ‘O’ level but I’m sure everyone would remember Mrs Collett for her flamboyant character. Dr Sanders
was a figure head in the Chemistry department (an excellent teacher, but rather scary too), Mrs Fisher, followed by Mrs Bell in the Physics department, and Mrs Wilson and Mrs Crittenden in the Biology department.
Jenny Crowther (2009)
In French I remember Mrs Peters who everyone liked and Mrs Harrison. In Geography I remember Mrs Holland, who I always thought had a great name for a geography teacher!
My memories from the school mainly start in the Senior School. My Year 7 teacher was Mrs Black, in C3, who during the lower years in the school seemed very scary and intimidating, but as I grew older I realised she was actually a very nice and witty lady. We had to complete times table squares each week after she had made us move seats, so that we got to know everybody in the class. She bought us a post-it note, a pen and an orange each at Christmas.
In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the school. I think I benefitted from the experience in a variety of ways not just academic and it is because of this that my husband and I decided to send our daughter to the school.
I started NGHS in Year 5, in September 2000, along with three other girls from my old primary school. They sat us all together on the first day until we found our feet.
The Year 7 and 8 discos were always a comical affair. They started with the boys on one side of the hall and the girls on the other, until gradually as the night went on, with a little help from the Sixth Formers, the boys and girls mingled and danced with one another. The Sixth Formers always took the pleasure of moving the boys’ hands from the girls’ backs to their bottoms! When I was in Year 10, this was the first year that Bolton, my house, won Sports’ Day. Bolton had always been considered the worst house, and up until this point everyone had always wanted to be in Hastings. On this day however, Bolton performed outstandingly and managed to take the title. The whole house was ecstatic and many girls were in tears they were so pleased, especially the older ones who never thought Bolton would stand a chance of winning. I played tennis for both the school and the house whilst I was at the school. We were either winners or runners up in the annual tennis competition every year, with our biggest rivals being Colonel Frank Seely School. The day trips away for
tennis competitions always used to be very enjoyable events. There was great team spirit and even though there was a wide range of ages between the girls, everyone got on really well, and all pulled together to win (most of the time!). I also played golf for the school in the Sixth Form. I came across a school competition and managed to find three girls to play in the Nottinghamshire Schools’ Golf Competition. Really you needed four players, however it was the best 3 out of 4 scores to count and we ended up winning the team event, and I managed to win the individual prize. This allowed us to go forward and become the 5th best school in England - not bad for an all girls’ school! Although we had the burden of GCSEs, Year 11 was another one of my favourite years at the school. Physics with Mrs Bell was always an enjoyable lesson. I had a lot of good teachers in Year 11, three particular ones stick in my mind as
being especially good. The first, Mrs Folwell, taught me History and this was one of my favourite subjects, which I continued on to A level. She was a very good teacher, who had a lot of time for everyone, and always made sure you understood everything necessary. My third favourite teacher everyone called ‘Mrs Woolly’, although her real name was Mrs Woolliscroft, and she taught me Economics from Year 10 until Upper Sixth. Mrs Woolliscroft also became my adoptive mum when I was ‘stuck’ in hospital in Italy on the Year 11 trip during the October break. With the exception of the four day unnecessary hospital experience prematurely ending my holiday, the beginning of the Italy trip was one of my favourite moments of my time at the school.
It sounds disgusting but it looked really good. Sixth Form Entertainment has stuck in my mind since leaving the school. It was based on television programmes and different people dressed up as the younger years, along with various TV presenters. On our last day in May 2009 we all dressed up as sailors. We had a whole year big breakfast and then Mrs Gorham took an assembly, before we all went off into town together, embarking on a new chapter in our lives, and bidding a fond farewell to a school we had all loved.
There was a particularly funny parents’ evening that took place that always tickles me and my mum. My Year 11 Latin teacher told me that I was probably going to fail Latin GCSE, as I only got 50% in the mock exam. My mum, however, knew that this was a very good mark, as I had only learnt up to the letter ‘M’ of the vocabulary list! And in case you are wondering, “ego obduco!” Year 11 was also the year of the Prom. It was held at the Nottingham Forest Ground and required a lot of preparation from both the girls and the staff. Both my parents attended as well, as a certain number of adults were required, and as we didn’t want any teachers to go, we nominated a set of parents from each class. My parents were voted least embarrassing and therefore came to the prom. In the Sixth Form our common room moved from the end of C Block (I think it was called P Block), to its own building near the Uniform Shop. My mum told me it was the old caretakers’ house. It was painted bright green, purple and brown.
Michelle and Claire Michelle Fischer (Aitken, 1980) I was at NGHS between 1973 and 1980 and left school to go to UEA to study European Studies (thinking I had left Nottingham for good). I worked for Lufthansa for several years in the UK and Germany and having had Claire, started to get homesick for the UK and in particularly, hoped she could have a similar education to the one I really enjoyed. We moved back to the UK and in fact to Nottingham, where I have now been for 16 years, running a training company and also lecturing at Loughborough University part time. I loved my time at school, although it was very daunting to begin with as I had come from a small village school which only had 75 pupils in total. I soon got into the swing as was told off regularly for talking too much and remember daunting cookery lessons with Mrs Flint where I often found myself outside for having chatted to my partner! I really enjoyed music, drama and needlework although none ended up playing a part in my career. I took languages at university and Mrs Grimshaw and Mrs Winfield certainly played a large part in inspiring me to go on and study these. We went out to see many German plays and films during the sixth form, which was really exciting. Another memorable teacher was Miss Scott, the history teacher, and also my form teacher at one stage, who threw herself into drama with us and made it great fun. It was amazing to see her still there when my daughter joined, she must have been really young when she joined NGHS! Memorable things at school include taking the headmistress's dog for a walk/drag round the Arboretum, which was the only way one could
get to go there if you were below Upper Fifth. Also in younger years walking down Coleman Street (escorted of course) to get to the dining hall for a very uninspiring dinner, having to bus to Redhill for games only to be herded round the windy hill there for cross country (we later found short cuts and places to hide) and funnily enough, the dungeons in A Block were scary even then. We had our changing rooms there and to make things worse our year seemed to enjoy getting out the ouija board to try and conjure up any spirits that might have been lurking there!
Claire Fischer (2009) I'm currently in my first year studying Medicine at Bristol University and was at NGHS from 2002-2009. English was definitely my favourite subject when I was younger. Not only were most of the teachers really inspiring, but to any Year 7s who had come from a fairly small primary school, the library looked huge and very exciting! NGHS definitely had a lot of scary stories and these even started before I joined the school! I remember being shown around on the induction day by two girls, who ended our tour with a trip to the music block attic, where the group
got told that this was the home of spooky noises and a music block ghost. Although we made a quick exit at the time, it didn't seem to scare me enough to stop me taking music all the way up to A level! Another area that caused a lot of rumours were the 'dungeons' underneath A Block (when I was at school, the story was that the previous owner of the house had committed suicide there though I'm sure that there have been many different versions!). Perhaps it was just the name, but no one below Year 9 would even go down there, and even after that, you'd make sure you took a friend with you! Although as we got older we'd realised that most of these stories had probably been made up in an attempt to scare us as impressionable Year 7s, they still seemed to be part of high school life, even in sixth form, where I remember being told by a teacher that they'd seen a ghostly Victorian figure walk halfway into the hall and then disappear one evening when school had finished. I don't think anyone really knows whether there's any truth in the rumours, but it seems that's part of the fun; you can't say you've been to NGHS without having heard (and probably passed on) at least one of the scary stories!
NGHS THROUGHOUT WORLD WAR II NGHS has a long history, and throughout its time the school and pupils have seen many changes. The biggest and most unexpected came during World War II. We spoke with the students who were here at that time. Below are accounts of their experiences of war time NGHS. Roby Banks (Sharples, 1950) I was 11 and only at Ramsdale Park for a year as a new girl before the schools were transferred back to their normal site in, I think, 1944. It was very exciting for me, an only child, to be with a lot of children after school as well as all night, and I loved it all - at least most of it! Ramsdale Park was a lovely large house set on top of a hill in the country, with magnificent surrounding views and a long winding drive leading up to it. It was owned by the Seely family and their daughter Cherry was in our year. Our dormitory was a large room, with perhaps 10 beds, set at the end of a long corridor at the other end of which sat the ‘teacher on watch’ for the evening. We were not supposed to talk after lights out and certainly not get out of bed and wander about or indulge in midnight feasts from the contents of our parental tuck parcels. All this was made much more exciting due to the possibility of the teacher on watch barging in at any minute with dire consequences! All very Enid Blyton! The lessons were held in smaller rooms on either side of the long corridor and teachers used to commute between us and Ribblesdale Road. It must have been a logistical nightmare but I cannot remember any missed lessons due to teachers not turning up. The lowest form at Ramsdale was UIII for which I was too young and I therefore knew no French. Our French teacher Miss Tucker was
horrified, but very kindly gave me special lessons during break times to catch up, which I did appreciate even at the time! However, I remember her sister, Miss E Tucker, who was generally disliked for being unfair, and who, without bothering to check the facts, gave me a good telling off for being lazy and wasting her sister’s time - the injustice still rankles! Writing this has certainly brought back memories of a year which was on the whole, great fun.
Jill Devine (Sewell, 1949) I was at boarding school in Kent when war broke out - the school evacuated to Wales not far from Barmouth, where I studied for two terms. Then I joined the Lower 5th at Daybrook, at the beginning of the summer term – 1940. I remember having to carry a bag with our gas masks and a warm coat around with us all the time. The house at Daybrook was a Masonic Lodge, and I remember doing our exams in the ante-room, where masons held their meetings. One of the things I recall is going to camp in the spring, it must have been 1941,we went to Lincolnshire and stayed in the Village Hall. I went out each day to a farm, where we spent hours ‘singling beet’. I became very interested in farming and it led me to going to Nottingham University (Midland Agricultural College) at Sutton Bonnington to study a degree in agriculture.
Audery Alcock (Sanderson, 1947) I started at NGHS in September 1941 at Daybrook House which was a Masonic Lodge, which has since been demolished. I think my memories are of certain incidents involving both pupils and teachers, although I can visualise certain class rooms. We all had bags containing an old coat and a gas-mask in a metal box which we had to take with us at all times, so coupled with satchels and books it probably helped to develop our muscles. Then of course we had to practice in case there was an airraid, by going down into the cellars (fortunately we never had to do this in a real air-raid), I don’t think at that young age we realised the seriousness of war. Miss Pretty taught me History, which I am afraid was not one of my favourite subjects, and I committed
the sin of not knowing my Roman Numerals, when dealing with French history I said Louis XV when it should have been XIV, so I had to visit the staff room each morning before prayers for a week where she tested me. I suppose the good thing from this is my Roman numerals have stayed with me for the rest of my life. Miss Merrifield was the headmistress, and after one very naughty incident several of us were brought before her to be reprimanded. We had unscrewed the top of a salt pot at lunch time, and one unsuspecting person had their dinner ruined by a plateful of salt. We were duly told off, and when she had finished, she said something to the effect that she expected us to get up to mischief sometimes, so just go back to your class and behave. Incidentally, we occasionally enjoyed the odd parcel at school sent from the USA with treats of chocolate, but I don’t remember having any of that. Of course, sweets and chocolate, like all foods, were rationed, but that was probably good for us, especially our teeth.
Margaret Craig (Smith, 1949)
Noreen Shaw (Farrow, 1946)
The school has changed so much over the last 50 years as has everything else and we can’t believe what luxuries the Sixth Form have now - Miss Merrifield (our head when we started) just wouldn’t have believed it and maybe not have approved of some – who knows! I remember when the covered way was built to stop us getting wet in the rain when we changed buildings. We did gym in the hall then when we wore navy blue knickers which we had to embroider our names across the front of.
During the War (1939-1945) the NGHS buildings situated on Arboretum Street (where I then lived opposite the school) were taken over by the army for 3-4 years. We went to the Masonic Hall on Ribblesdale Road off Mansfield Road and our schooling went on quite smoothly. We were fortunate enough not to be interrupted by any bombing raids. However, I can bring back to mind that we did have gas mask sessions.
The men working on the covered way must have had an eyeful. The presence of men in the building was definitely something out of the ordinary until I seem to remember a male art teacher being employed by the school – that caused a stir! Those were the days! As you will see I have enclosed this photo of a staff pantomime taken I think around 1950 when I was in the lower 5th. As you will see it’s a performance of Alice in Wonderland. Miss Pretty is on the left of the second row with Miss Hume next to her. Miss Merrifield is the Mad Hatter near the middle of the 3rd row back and further along that row are Miss Cranford and Miss Lewenz as Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
We eventually reoccupied the school on Arboretum Street and peace was announced and began officially at one minute past midnight on the 9th May 1945, but the celebrations started during the Tuesday, the 8th May, and lasted throughout the night. I also have a dim recollection of French sailors visiting the school, as I do have the autograph of one in 1944 still in my possession. My sister (who also attended the NGHS) and I have been living in a warden-aided complex for 4 years now. This retirement complex is built on the site where the Masonic Hall once stood on Ribblesdale Road; the hall was demolished about 25 years ago.
to Ramsdale Park, Arnold, Nottinghamshire. It was therefore arranged that I became a boarder immediately at Ramsdale Park, Arnold, which had kindly been offered to the school by the owners, Colonel and Mrs Seeley, who had moved out into their lodge house in the grounds with their two daughters, Elizma and Cherry, who were also attending the school. It was a lovely building with a dome, which had been camouflaged with painted trees on a green background. Apparently the building was only a quarter of the specified size and it was envisaged that the remaining three quarters, complete with a further three domes, would be built at a later date – but I don’t think this ever materialised.
Christine Tindall (Brooks, 1949) I joined the NGHS in Arboretum Street in 1937 at the age of seven, and therefore enjoyed a normal school life for two years. This was at the time of Miss Merrifield (Headmistress) and I was in the 1st form under Miss Richards. I usually went to school by bus (actually, a trolley bus in my case). Sometimes I went home for lunch, but my mother always met me after school in the Arboretum to take me home. I had already started to play the violin at my previous school under Yehudi Menuhin, so I continued at NGHS, but I seemed to lose interest and started to learn the piano under Miss Roseblade and this continued until I eventually left school in 1945. However, on the outbreak of war in 1939 this was all altered. The school was commandeered by the army and we were transferred to the Masonic Lodge, Ribblesdale Road, Daybrook, Nottingham. I was lucky as my parents had already moved
to Number 100 Ribblesdale Road, which was at the further end, which took us over the boundary and into Sherwood which was classed as being ‘in Nottingham’ and the rates were more expensive! When the Germans started their big bombing raids and the siren went off we all had to go into our air raid shelters in the garden. If the bombing continued or started at midnight, the school rule was that we would report to school an hour later as we would have lost some sleep. The school had already acquired a large playing field at Thackerays Lane – a short distance from the Masonic Hall across the main road. We would usually have two lessons in the afternoon, such as French first and then a sports lesson afterwards such as hockey, tennis etc. However, the bombing became worse and a bomb was dropped on a house on Ribblesdale Road about three houses away from us and everyone was killed. Apparently, the Germans were following the railway line at the back of us. So that was the start of my introduction
I was kindly collected from home by one of the teachers and driven to Ramsdale. I was immediately made to feel at home as she introduced me to the girls, some of whom I already knew from the day school. The juniors were usually put in the ground floor dormitory so that the staff could keep an eye on them. Unfortunately, the sash windows of this room looked out onto a huge coal and slack pile. And as we always had to have the window open slightly when we went to bed, we found that any slight breeze sent a dirty coal dust onto the bed sheets and other bedding of anyone unlucky enough to be sleeping near these windows. It was also rather a Spartan existence – no carpets, only bare boards. We had to bring our own bed, mattress, blankets and sheets (three sheets as one sheet was changed every week and sent to the laundry). We were also allowed to bring a bedside rug and a small chest of drawers or wardrobe. There was a three mile drive up to the house and if there was a heavy snowfall, any laundry or supplies were pulled up on a sledge! Ramsdale was a lovely building. The main room downstairs was
enormous and we usually had our meals in this room. It had a lovely carved staircase with banisters winding down from the dormitories on the first floor - needless to say, we slid down the banisters when nobody was about! The tables were laid each morning by the teachers, and as the food was rationed (cereal, butter etc) she had to carefully measure it all out. I remember it was half a cup of cereal to each bowl. As I was not a large eater I used to do a swap with my food. The sixth formers or a teacher used to take it in turns to supervise each table, at which there were usually eight to ten girls. They were very strict and we were brought up to have such perfect table manners as becoming to a young lady. I really appreciated this in later years. There was also another small room off this dining room which was used in the evenings by all of us as a playroom before we went to bed. The large main room was also used for Prayer Assembly before we started our classes, and as I was learning the piano I was sometimes asked to play a tune for the girls to march out to. As a dare, I once played the tune ‘She was sweet sixteen, little Angeline, always dancing on the village green.’ Naughty Christine! (or Chrissie, I was known). There was only one teacher who asked me why I had played that tune, and I just said that I thought it was a happy tune, and got away with it! There was also a very large gong on the first floor balcony (similar to Ranks Films) and this was used to summon us to our meals etc. We also had to help with washing up in the scullery after the meals, particularly if it was the weekend. If we were lucky, we had the hard green soap to use, which was quicker, otherwise it was just hot water - because of the rationing you see. Whenever I see that soap, which is not very often these days, my mind goes back. The lady in charge of the kitchen and cooking
was very good indeed, a great treasure. Her daughter Molly used to attend the school. Thinking back, I am really grateful for all the experience I gained on the caretaking side; it was very useful when I left school. GARDENING We also had to help the War Effort with ‘Digging for Victory.’ There was a large walled vegetable and fruit garden and only a few of the girls were allowed to help here. These vegetables and produce were grown for both the school and the Seeley family. It was also decided that if anyone wanted, they could have a tiny plot outside the walled area to grow lettuce etc. I was very keen. I tried my best but the ground was so hard and had never been touched, so I just sowed the seeds, including some for corn on the cob. Nothing came up! However, when I paid a visit after the war this corn on the cob was growing profusely all over the place! Another idea was to have the land tilled by the farmer, and on Saturday mornings we would all stand in a row, each with a very heavy hoe, and tackle the soil until it was level. Then altogether we took a step back to the next row, and so on. Oh the blisters on our little hands! We also had some girls from the other GPDST schools, such as London etc, when the heavy bombing was on. And also a few who had managed to come from abroad from Austria – but they only stayed a short time until their parents found a home. They were all included in the gardening. Towards the end of the war many of us went home for the weekend, and we were allowed to go at midday on the Saturdays. I was very lucky as I was allowed to have horse riding lessons at the school. A Miss Ellenberger used to bring a pony up from the village. She was quite a character, but I won’t go into detail as it will take too long!
In order to keep us all in touch with the war we were allowed to read certain newspapers as and when available. The teachers carefully checked these as I don’t think they wanted us to get upset over any local bombings. There was also the monthly geographical magazine to share, and a very small library which I got through very quickly. When the war finished some of us stayed on at Ramsdale for about a year, myself being one, until things had been sorted out. We were taken by coach to the day school on Arboretum Street for the day, and collected and brought back to Ramsdale. The school was in quite a mess due to the army - we survived though! I hope this will bring back memories, mostly good, and perhaps a few bad, of our life at Ramsdale Park.
Elizabeth McAuslane (Crofts, 1949) I was a Ramsdaler and remember so well leaving home for the first time. If I remember correctly, it was very soon after the outbreak of war on September 3rd, 1939. * We were required to bring our own beds, linen and dressing table, also a full set of cutlery. * We were encouraged to take up the offer of a small garden plot to grow whatever we wished. I only produced lettuce, radishes and spring onions and rather a lot of weeds. * The ornamental rose gardens in front of Ramsdale were uprooted to provide space to grow cabbage and other vegetables and if you were given a detention, instead of writing “lines” and wasting paper, you were given an empty can and sent out to pick caterpillars off the cabbages!
* We were fortunate to have Miss Roseblade come to school to give piano lessons and Miss Ellenberger to give riding lessons. I took advantage of both and have loved both pursuits ever since. * We were so fortunate to have Miss Merrifield, the Headmistress, in residence at Ramsdale. In retrospect, I felt rather sorry for her as her living quarters were immediately below the Music Room, and she must have been very aware of all the wrong notes during lessons and practice. * We all lived a very healthy, outdoors type life and considered ourselves to be much more fortunate than the day girls down in Arnold. I don’t recall whether we ever played hockey matches between the two sections - but if we did, I am sure we beat the socks off them! * There was at least one particularly hard winter when Ramsdale was completely cut off and we had to trudge down to the end of the one mile drive and bring up the milk on sledges. * There was one night when a German bomber, probably badly damaged before completing its raid, released a stick of bombs across one of the fields below the school, probably to lighten its load and enable it to get back to Germany across the North Sea. I slept right through the most exciting night ever at Ramsdale! Just a few recollections of a very happy time (after getting over home-sickness) at Ramsdale, riding the beautiful antique rocking horse.
Anne Phillips (Calladine, 1948) I went to NGHS as a scholarship holder in September 1941, at the age of 10, and was placed in Lower 3rd. The school had by then been evacuated to a Masonic Lodge on Ribblesdale Road, Daybrook, and I had a one-hour journey each morning and evening by bus from Stapleford to the city centre, and then another bus to Daybrook. For the first week I met an older girl from the school on the same bus, but after that I was able to travel by myself. I do not remember ever seeing even staff cars at Ribblesdale Road, let alone girls arriving in cars. We had to carry three things with us in school at all times: a satchel, a gas mask (brought from home) and a coat bag containing an old coat, left overnight on our peg in the cloakroom. The coat was in case we had to go into the air-raid shelter, to keep us warm. We also had to change into indoor shoes at school, so there was a shoe bag on our peg as well. If there was an air-raid in the night, school started an hour later the next morning. Girls who lived a long way from school (like me) had to have an arrangement with another girl in the same form (and her mother) in case it was not possible to get to our own home in the evening. I had half a term at Ramsdale Park in autumn 1941 as I had surgery to lengthen my Achilles tendons in July 1941 and one leg was still in plaster from the knee to the toes. I thought I would be able to go to Daybrook like that by bus, but I couldn’t. A van came to take me and my bed from home to Ramsdale. I was put into a ground floor dormitory with younger girls, to my chagrin, because it was thought that I couldn’t climb stairs, but I could, and did, and got into trouble!
The teachers worked extra hard during the war years. They had to take part in a rota for firewatching on the school roof at night in addition to their usual daytime teaching. As it was difficult for families to take holidays, girls who wished could stay at Ramsdale Park for two weeks in the summer holiday, supervised by teachers. The grounds there seemed enormous with woods and fields to play in. For three years from the age of 12, I went with girls from our form to do potato picking in Lincolnshire for two weeks in term time and two weeks in the August school holiday. The staff again supervised us. In one place, we were all conscripted into the church choir regardless of our singing ability! On another occasion we had to sleep (on strawfilled palliasses on the floor) in alphabetical order as a punishment. The school moved back to Arboretum Street in September 1944. I left NGHS in July 1948 to go to Birmingham University Medical School.
Sylvia Shelton (Lucas 1949) I actually started at Ribblesdale Road in 1941 aged 10. The entrance exam was miles away from the exam today. As I recall just two of us answered a very short exam paper and were told there and then whether we had passed or not! I was quite involved in helping in the move back to Arboretum Street, it must have been a tremendous task for the teachers but we found it a lot of fun. Miss Lewenz was our History teacher following Miss Merrifield; it was, I think, her first job after qualifying as a teacher, a long time before she returned as Head. I left in 1949 just before my 18th birthday after doing the pre-nursing course in the Sixth Form. The 1949 leavers meet every year in the summer. This is organised by Nina Sheeran.
GAP YEARS Imogen Barker (2009) Studying and exploring in the Land Down Under As I sit here in Melbourne Library recallling memories from the past seven months it has dawned on me how far from ordinary my journey to get here has been. My time studying at NGHS finished in 2009 and the logical next stage was to do the same as the majority of the year group; spend three years at university somewhere in England and walk away with a degree, some new friends and fond memories to then head straight into the big wide world of long term work. I, however, did not want to be stuck in one country for so long at an age when the concept of travelling and seeing the world seemed very enticing. I knew that a gap year could easily turn into many months wasted not doing anything productive or interesting with the net result being that I was left unprepared for study having had a year off from academia. I had always wanted to go to Australia and in the summer before I left NGHS my dream came true, I went on holiday and loved it to the point I turned to my parents on the plane, as we flew out of Brisbane, and vowed to be back within twelve months. I am studying Biological Sciences at Lancaster University which, along with many other courses, has the opportunity to join a study abroad exchange scheme. I worked hard to maintain the grade requirements needed in first year and through persistence managed to work my way into the final four allowed to go to Australia. Of all the countries in the world Australia is the most popular and most difficult to get a place on such a scheme, due to its popularity. I was offered a couple of places to choose from and opted for the University of Wollongong, one of the best in Australia, a five minute walk from three surfing beaches and a train ride away from the centre of Sydney. Before
long all the paperwork, visas and meetings were completed and the first year exams over, it was now time for me to dash back to Nottingham to say my goodbyes and pack before flying off to Sydney a week later for fourteen months. Since arriving I’ve spent three months of holidays, along with my weekends, travelling around the east coast of Australia and New Zealand. Through being money savvy with how I spend my slightly larger student loan I’ve so far been able to visit Sydney, Bondi beach, Manly, Canberra, Melbourne, St Kilda, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Gold Coast (Surfer’s Paradise), Byron Bay, Brisbane, Cairns, Cape Tribulation Rainforest, Tasmania, Great Ocean Road, Adelaide and the South island of New Zealand. My plans are to hopefully visit the north island of New Zealand to undertake a conservation project in my remaining month of summer holidays, and maybe visit Thailand on my way back to England. University here is as difficult, and in some ways arguably harder at times, than in England but there is extensive holiday time to see all sorts of new places. Having made friends at university and at my accommodation I was soon being invited to stay with various families to the point I ended up having nine offers from friends for places to stay at Christmas and New Year shortly after I arrived. Edited highlights of my trip so far would be bodyboarding at Byron Bay alongside pro surfers, jetboating around Sydney Harbour, being at the Harbour
bridge and Opera House for the New Year fireworks, coming face to face with wild saltwater crocodiles near Cairns, snorkelling with clown fish and turtles at the Great Barrier Reef, watching the sun set over a deserted black sand beach whilst sitting on a piece driftwood, horse-riding through the snow covered mountains of New Zealand, doing a 12,000 foot sky-dive over the snow-capped mountains and lakes, donning multiple layers and crampons to hike up the middle of a glacier, being in an enormous crowd of supporters to watch an Aussie Rules football game, catching a rebounded tennis ball whilst sitting in the front row at the Aussie Open, being surrounded by large schools of dolphins, dodging wombats whilst motorbiking through the bush flanked by kangaroos jumping alongside, having a BBQ under the stars with all my new aussie friends and a full and Melbourne like the back of my hand and I have experienced Australia through Australians, not just with other foreigners I have met along the way. I have been taken off the well-beaten tourist tracks to see places with locals I would never have gone otherwise. This, along with independent travelling, has worked fantastically to create memories and friends I will never forget in my lifetime. When I leave here I will be leaving my second home; some beautiful places and fantastic people. It will be be sad but at least this way I had the chance to see them rather than not at all! Studying abroad is an enriching process which, if you let it, will be one of the best experiences of your life. Family and friends will still be in England upon return, opportunities like this do not come around readily in later life so if you are not prone to home-sickness and want to travel whilst at the same time improving your CV I recommend you consider making that jump, get on the plane and enjoy the amazing journey! moon party at the beach with dozens of fire-twirlers and drummers. I could write pages and pages about all the amazing experiences I have had so far as there have been so many! For the first time in my life I had a hot Christmas spent swimming in dams, avoiding snakes on a Boxing Day hike through the bush and then getting soaked in a day long water fight! Not exactly your standard English Christmas experience! By studying abroad I have been able to afford to see and do things with like-minded young people whilst being totally free from any form of academic work in the holiday periods. The fact I have Australian student discount has also proven handy in cutting the cost of travelling! By living and socialising here my network of contacts has increased greatly, providing me with friends to visit and stay with as well join on trips. My Australian experience has not been an extended tourist visit, instead I have become an honorary Australian. I now know Sydney
Elizabeth Cooper (2001) Design for Fair Trade Last year I got in touch with NGHS careers service about giving talks on Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) for fundraising purposes, and was asked to write an article on my career so far for this alumni magazine. I’m used to sharing information on my work via my blog, website and social media, so am happy to tell you all about my choices and experiences. If anyone with similar professional interests would like to get in touch, your emails are welcome. I’m currently just over half way through a 12-month VSO role in Delhi. I work as Communications Associate at a youth NGO called Swechha. This means I am responsible for producing communications materials such as annual reports, leaflets, posters and web content, to explain what the organisation does and recruit support and participation, and producing a communications strategy. Swechha focuses on encouraging young people to be active citizens and in particular to take action on environmental issues. I trained as a designer so I do both design and content for communications materials. I also work on one of Swechha’s programmes called Green the Gap (www.greenthegap.com) - a recycled fair trade textiles project. We employ 12 full-time tailors from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have previously worked in difficult sweatshop conditions. They make bags, purses, wallets, coasters, and stationery items from waste materials such as cloths thrown away by factories, old tyres, and Tetra Pak packaging. As well as doing the communications for the Green the Gap project, I do product design, select cloths and oversee production. I’m also initiating new
policies and practices to help us prepare for a fair trade certification application. I’m enjoying my work here and living in Delhi - some find the city too chaotic, too big, too polluted… but I’m used to that since before moving to Delhi I spent almost three years in Dakar, Senegal. After finishing my A-levels I did an art foundation course at the University for the Creative Arts, and then a degree in Fashion Design at the University of Westminster, which went very well but I never found I had much in common with those wanting to pursue careers in the traditional fashion industry. I knew I wanted a creative career and loved design, but was always determined to find a way to use these skills in a more meaningful way. This led me to producing a graduate collection of clothing in organic cotton, and becoming interested in fair trade textiles. My degree dissertation and internships also focused on ethical fashion. While still at university I organised an internship at an NGO called Pesticide Action Network Africa in Dakar who work on promoting alternatives to chemical pesticides (which are harmful to farmers’ health and the environment) and have links with organic cotton projects. I was looking for a way to find out firsthand what producers in
developing countries thought about organic cotton and fair trade, and the NGO in Senegal was the one among several contacted in different countries that was able to offer me accommodation, an allowance and some interesting work for two months. I was also glad to go to a French-speaking country as I had kept up my French since A-level by spending time in France as a teaching assistant. Almost a year after my internship at PAN, having spent plenty of time writing to NGOs and companies working in fair trade or ethical fashion, I found another opportunity which also happened to be in Senegal! I was offered a three-month paid contract doing communications for a small fair trade certified arts and crafts company. Since I already knew Dakar, I decided to take a chance and buy a one-way ticket - hoping to either extend the contract or find other experience. The risk paid off and I ended up working for various NGOs there and gaining very valuable insight and experience. I worked for an NGO called Enda Tiers Monde on a fair trade organic cotton project - working with villagers who grow certified cotton in the east of Senegal. The project involved designing textiles products made from cloth that is spun and woven by hand by artisans in the same villages where the cotton is grown.
I then trained tailors in the same villages on how to sew the products using paper patterns. I also worked on communications materials for the project, and an online shop (http://ynw.jarinio.sn) I learnt a lot about fair trade, and was able to ask the farmers directly what they thought of fair trade cotton and of organic agriculture. Their overall response was positive, despite complications related to certification costs and too much paperwork farmers explained to me that they wanted to preserve their ancestral soils by getting back to traditional chemical-free practices, and were also glad of the extra income gained from selling the cotton at a fair trade price, no matter how small the increase per kilo is. While living in Dakar I also worked as a consultant for Oxfam America, working on a communications strategy, writing reports, and copywriting for leaflets and annual reports. The experience I was able to gain in Senegal qualified me for my VSO placement here in India. My choice of degree may seem unusual to some, but it equipped me with diverse design skills (product design, graphic design, publications design, web design) as well as practical pattern cutting and sewing abilities, and knowledge of apparel production. I have been able to pass on this knowledge to people in isolated communities who are for the most part illiterate and with few opportunities, and this is the most satisfying aspect of the work I have been doing overseas. I am pleased to have found opportunities to use both writing and design skills through communications roles. Fair trade is certainly not perfect and can at present only provide moderate improvements in living standards, but having witnessed these small positive impacts on communities, I am still inspired to continue to work in this field. http://lizcooper.blogspot.com
NGHS NEWS School history For many years our school buildings have been known by rather prosaic names, mere letters of the alphabet, which we have long felt gives a very cold impression of the site. We have therefore decided to rename the school buildings, using names associated with the original houses or with the school.
In 1880 Clarence Lodge was sold to Nottingham Girls’ High School which, with 146 pupils, had completely outgrown its Oxford Street home. This building, known as ‘A’ block is now to have its former name restored. For some other buildings, we know the original names. and these are also to be restored. For the remainder, we are to follow the pattern of the Bowering Sports Hall, the Milford Building, and the Lewenz Dining Hall, and name them after former Headmistresses.
A successful lace manufacturer, James Hartshorne, commissioned Monsieur Vandenberg of Lille, a French architect, to build him a house in the style of a French chateau, overlooking the Arboretum. This was completed in 1875, and was an extravagantly decorated building, with wide bay windows, elaborate mouldings in the main living rooms, and a glorious curling balustrade. It had been furnished in what was considered the best Victorian style, with richly embossed wallpaper, gold paint and gorgeous chandeliers. The frontage was marked by a high iron fence wrought in one of his own lace designs, a fence which still stands today. He called his picturesque home ‘Clarence Lodge’.
Pictured: Winifred Philipps, former Head. From September, the names of the buildings were changed as follows: A block - Clarence Lodge B block - Radnor House C block - Merrifield House P block - Philipps House D block - Derwent House Three years ago we reintroduced the original school crest, which was first used in 1887 when Miss Skeel was Head, showing the spider’s web ‘for perseverance’ and the rowan tree ‘for aspiration’. We hope that the new, warmer names for our buildings will be adopted (or readopted) just as smoothly.
Farewell to Margaret Renshaw
Centre in front of Council officials and representatives of ChildLine, including its founder, Esther Rantzen. Felicity was accompanied by Mrs Potter, Head of the Junior Schoo,l and Hannah Walton, Head Girl.
The Junior School said farewell to Mrs Margaret Renshaw - a much loved teacher and outstanding Headteacher. Girls and parents enjoyed a wonderful picnic and presented Mrs Renshaw with many gifts. We hope that she enjoys her retirement.
Welcome Faith Potter Mrs Faith Potter has been appointed as Head of the Junior School and took up her role at the beginning of September 2010. Mrs Potter was perviously Deputy Principal at the Private American School, Paphos, Cyprus, a post she held for the last four years. She is particularly proud of the key role she played in the promotion and development of this relatively new, British curriculum-led school as a popular choice for parents who seek an international education in Paphos. She believes strongly in the benefits of independent school education and her seventeen-year career reflects this. At her first school, Cheltenham College Junior School, she made her mark as a very able leader in the area of games and outdoor education as well as promoting excellence within junior classrooms. Following her move to Barnard Castle Preparatory School, County
Durham, she became a popular teacher and Boarding Housemistress who always sought to enhance the lives of Boarders through a lively activity programme and sound family values within the house. Promotion to Senior Management followed at Teesside Preparatory School for Girls, Yarm, before the family move to Cyprus in 2006. Specialising at degree level in Ecology and Outdoor Education, she is a strong advocate for the delights of hill walking, mountain biking and camping. Her love of animals cannot be denied and her favourite pastimes are long walks with her dogs and spending time with her daughters at the riding stables. With her diverse career experiences and boundless energy, she feels confident that the Junior School at Nottingham Girlsâ€™ High School will be in very secure hands for the future.
OBE for Professor Jenny Saint in New Year Honours List We are delighted that our Chair of Governors, Professor Jenny Saint, has been awarded an OBE in the Queenâ€™s New Year Honours. Former Dean of School, Nottingham Trent University, Jenny has been awarded an OBE for services to further and Higher Education. Jenny was Dean of the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences at Nottingham Trent University, Brackenhurst, until her retirement last summer. She is now emeritus professor of the university.
Flowers for HRH the Countess of Wessex Felicity Hannah from Year 6 was honoured to present a posy of flowers to HRH Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, during her visit to Nottinghamshire. The presentation took place in the ChildLine Call
IN MEMORIAM We extend our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those named below who passed away this year.
Kathleen Marie Elliot (1926) 1906 - 2010 Marie Coup (1940) 1924 - 2010 Marie will be remembered fondly by many old girls, and she kept links with the school throughout her life. She spent most of her life living in the family home in Sherwood, and only moved in recent years, first to live in a flat in The Firs complex in Sherwood, and latterly to a home in Hampshire, close to her niece. Marie started in kindergarten, following on from her brother Ted who attended the Boys’ High School. She enjoyed her school days enormously and, she would often reminisce about her happy times at school remembering for example, her time at Daybrook, History lessons with Miss Pretty, and her French lessons. She made many good friends at school that she kept throughout her life After leaving school Marie worked first for her father and after a brief but enjoyable time working for a variety of companies, she went on to take qualifications to become a legal executive, working for a Nottingham solicitors. In retirement Marie was always busy. She spoke French well and visited her pen friend on several occasions, keeping contact with her long after her school days. She enjoyed painting and took classes over a number of years. She also enjoyed researching the family tree, and made contact with relatives across the globe. She enjoyed travel, particularly flying, and spent happy holidays with friends in France and Switzerland, and was delighted to fulfil a lifelong ambition to visit relatives in Canada. She also enjoyed gliding and hot air ballooning. Marie was a parishioner for many years at St Martin’s Church, Sherwood, and friends and family were able to say farewell to Marie at a service held there in early March this year. Judy Cooper (Coup, 1966)
Joyce Leech (Former Staff) October 2010 Letty Lewenz (Former Headmistress and pupil) August 2011 Miss Lewenz took up the post of Headmistress at Nottingham Girls’ High School in 1967. This was her fourth start at NGHS as she attended the school as a child, and then went away to boarding school when she was 13. She returned as a student teacher, and again as an assistant mistress, after taking a degree in modern history at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, and a Diploma in Education, with distinction. In 1952 Miss Lewenz went to High Storrs Grammar School in Sheffield to take up the post of Head of History and then in 1959 she became Headmistress of Harrison Barrow Girls’ Grammar School in Birmingham. Miss Lewenz spearheaded the expansion of the Nottingham Girls’ High school in the early ‘70s when the Milford Building, a new science building, was opened on the north side of Arboretum Street. She also led the school when it opted for independence following the government phasing out of Direct Grant Schools, launching an appeal for bursaries which would help the school carry on its proud tradition, that every girl whatever her background should have the chance of becoming a pupil there. The size of the school increased under her leadership. Miss Lewenz was a very forward thinking Headmistress. She commented in 1969; ‘We are not afraid of change: we welcome changes which are implicit in growth and vitality’ but, she added: ‘We have no desire to be dragged up by the roots. We cherish the best in our tradition.’ She also urged parents not to view examination results as the Alpha and Omega of educational achievement, commenting instead that it was better to assess the achievement of excellence in terms of personal fulfilment and of progress towards the best that each individual can do. She gave sound advice to parents urging them not to expect or attempt to compel their daughter to do the same things that they had done or that they would have liked to have done, but did not manage to do. Miss Lewenz was a great advocate of girls’ education. She was very modern in her thinking, believing that the equality of the sexes was rather illusory, both careerwise and otherwise.
Although glad to have girls in the Sixth Form wanting to study engineering, she felt that it should not be remarkable. If a girl was appointed as a bank manager it still hit the headlines but she believed that this should not be the case in the 1960s. Miss Lewenz retired in 1984 after 17 years as Headmistress and a lifetime dedicated to education. Although many will remember Miss Lewenz, the Headmistress, those who knew her well will remember, even more, Miss Lewenz the affectionate, witty and delightful companion. Mrs Susan Gorham (Head)
Letty Louise Lewenz 4 February 1924 to 1 August 2011
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