MEMORIES FROM THOSE WHO ATTENDED FRIENDS' SCHOOL, SAFFRON WALDEN

Snippets of news

2001-2005

In a missive from Giles Norton he referred wittily to those circular letters and the more embarrassing features of the short biography of one’s life achievements. (see Simon Hoggart’s book) Well, here is the concession to providing little bits of news which do not easily connect to the rest of the loose structure of this site.

This reverses the order of receipt to put the newest ones at the top.

Adrianne Ryder-Cook: My husband just looked my name up on google and found this site! It was fun to see everyone’s picture and to read what people had to say. Trust  you organized it.

My two years at Saffron Walden were pretty rough….long way from home etc, great need to prove my independence, but certainly gave me a good foundation.
Glad to see everyone looking pretty well at the 2002 reunion. Wish I had known, I might have made it.
Best to you and all you might come across. Adrianne
PS. So glad to see Ceri married Nick! (1 Aug 2004)

Gael Whittle: Married to Mick Henry. Two teenage sons. Lecturer in Fashion Northumbria University. Also teach yoga. Living in Gateshead since 1975. (26 July 2004 Friends Reunited)

Nick Hunt: “hi, gus. have just discovered your website fascinating! almost right with Brighton, 15 mls away on the Weald. when’s the 50 yr old reunion? could be interesting. keep up the good work, regards nick” (February 2004)

Penny Maier [Bolton-Gilbert]: I was only at Friends School for 4 terms -Summer term of the first year as a ‘day brat’ and the second year as a boarder.  I have very fond memories of FSSW and have enjoyed browsing the website.  I was friendly with Anna Roberts, who also left at the end of the second year, and have now contacted her.  She mentioned that a few people had asked after me – I was quite surprised as I didn’t think anyone would remember me as I was there such a short time.  I must say it was a bit of a shock to be confronted by myself in the 1968 school photo on the website!Brief resume since leaving FSSW: Completed schooling in Devon.  Went to agricultural college in Aylesbury with the aim of being a farm secretary.  Promptly changed to being a medical secretary (quite similar !!?).  Met husband in Aylesbury, so stayed here ever since. Have two daughters, both now left home (one in London working, the other at Uni in Warwick).  Am currently a self employed PA to a consultant plastic surgeon organising his private practice, and also to a chap restoring a minor stately home which was remodelled by Sir John Soane and where the grounds were designed by Capability Brown, so a nice contrast there.  In my spare time I am half way through an OU social science degree – I must be mad!!!

Would love to hear from anyone else who knew me at FSSW.
Cheers, Penny. (July 2003)

Louis Mair: I was much impressed with the Willson website and I feel I have now come to the time of my life when I wish to unburden my soul, confess all and bore my old friends. After leaving the Pink Penitentiary I attended the University of Malawi, briefly. Three years further on I was working on a drilling rig in the North Sea. Such was the nature of saving the world from an energy crisis that I wished I had taken the physical education classes more seriously. I recollect hiding in an upstairs gymnasium with Messrs. Gaussen and Hartley. In one corner a frightfully handsome and muscular young man was pumping enough iron for all of us. I did manage to build up the required stamina for oilfield work.

I confess that I even enjoyed the oilfield life at one time. It helped to subsidise a love of motorcycles and a memorable marriage. When poverty and the end of marriage co-incided I remembered the motorcycle that Mr Mongar had owned. I once travelled on the pillion of that machine to the Mongar Estate and back again. Yes, I had faith in the name of MZ motorcycles. That was about 1983, I’ve owned an MZ (or two) ever since!

Around 1992 I helped to found an offshore oilfield trade union. Being a nuisance in the world of politics seemed to fulfil some inner need. In 1993 my efforts gained me that most honourable award for an honest politician. Do not pass Go, Do not collect £200! I retired from that line of work in 1994.

In 1996 I attended a re-union at that place of painful and pleasant memories. I spoke to Messrs. Willson, Berry and Barker amongst others. Tom Robinson spoke very well on his mixed memories of “The School”. I can’t say I was keen to go to the re-union, but I was glad I had done so.

I am currently studying Spanish at Aberdeen University. I have a great interest in Latin America. Perhaps Dave the Rave and I can organise a trip together! (June 2003)

Richard Mongar: And after school? Well, I dropped out of poly very early on – worked at The Royal Veterinary College Field Station as an animal attendant on research projects. Became a girls-school lab. technician . Got married. Worked at Sussex University as an Assistant Scientific Officer (insecticide research for The Agricultural Research Council). My A’ level project on cockroaches got me that job! Became a local government officer. Got  divorced. Went to work for the RSPCA as a trainee veterinary nurse by way of a vocational occupation.I have not worked since 1986 , although in 1991 I qualified in holistic massage therapy. [I’m happy to give anyone a lovely aromatherapy treatment in Seaford, East Sussex in exchange for a small donation to Oxfam]. I’m currently learning to paint and do a little ceramic art from time to time.

I would particularly like to hear from any single female non-smoking old scholars / Quakers etc. (tel. 01323 – 490184) or e-mail richardmongar@yahoo.co.uk allowing 2-3 weeks as it’s not my computer! (January 2003)

Helen Falk [Robertson]: I worked in the City for 23 years, trading and advising in both European Government and Eurobonds. I have now embarked on a second career and have just completed my ACCA accountancy finals. Working for a top 10 company. I live in Chelmsford with 2 teenage daughters.
(From Friends Reunited 05/01/2003 10:36:54 )
I am sorry I missed the reunion it sounded like everyone enjoyed it. Gus’ website is excellent – I found myself in the middle of a photo on the clothes section (I am the one with the skirt turned over rather too much!!) It is funny how looking at it all makes the intervening time disappear. Good to have contact – thank you.

2002

Jonathan Richards: At school I didn’t have a clue about relationships and feelings. I learnt a lot from observing Simon Greaves and others with wisdom and insight, but it has taken a long time for me to come to terms with the factors that made me the person I was at school. I did enjoy most of my time at school and value the fact that a few teachers, Iowerth John in particular, were important father figures for me. Some years ago I was on a course with Simon’s brother Robert (then a GP in North Wales). It was led by Marshall Marinker, father of the Marinkers. We discovered our common link at dinner having argued violently all through the day!

We had a great week with Steve Pitcher in France this summer. He lives near Rennes in an old farmhouse with 15th Century barn and 5 acres of thistles (well as chief thistle scyther for the week, that’s how it felt!) He is married to Sophie and they have two delightful daughters aged 3 and 6. I have been married to Alison for 25 years, lived in Merthyr Tydfil for 21 years, working as a GP. Mark (21), Lois (18) and Christopher (15) complete our family. I work one day a week as Professor of General Practice in a School that trains nurses and midwives at the University of Glamorgan.  I have attached a photo of the family taken at a pre-Millennium party in December 1999, though I don’t know if you will be able to put it on the site. With best wishes. (10 Oct 2002)

Geoff Barnard: It looks doubtful that I’ll be able to make it this weekend (nice job Gus – the website is turning into a minor classic). After three really enjoyable years at Cambridge, where I was at the same college as Steve Pitcher, I moved to Boston for a couple of years – working first in a biotech lab, then later at an R&D firm doing alternative energy research – attempting to convert seaweed into a diesel fuel substitute (don’t hold your breath on this one).  It then got interested in ‘biomass energy’ in developing countries, and after a spell in Thailand, spent the next 5 or 6 years back in London researching and writing on things like community forestry and biogas digesters (I’m possibly the only person to have ever part-financed their honeymoon with a grant to study dung burning in Asia).   I then got involved in helping setting up a NGO called the Panos Institute, which does information work on development topics, working particularly with the Third World media.  About 8 years ago I moved to the Institute of Development Studies, a research outfit based at the University of Sussex near Brighton.  I’m in charge of their information programme, and am mostly involved these days in setting up development related websites (see www.ids.ac.uk for much more than you probably want to know on the subject).I met my wife Sally at college, and we now have thirteen year old twins, Sam and Jessie.  They are just getting to the stage when I went to FSSW so are mildly amused and rather baffled looking at the old photos on the website.  They are much cooler than I ever was, and a lot more worldly wise. (27 Sep 2002)

Tim Watts: I’ve just discovered the web site that you run about our year and have been browsing it with total fascination and a whole range of emotions. The usual nostalgic responses to some of the reminiscences and photos, complete amnesia about some of the events described and some shock at some of the more negative feelings expressed. I don’t view my time at FSSW with rose tinted  glasses by any means… (see boarding).

A very brief account of what I’ve done since leaving… Having totally failed any attempts to get academic qualifications I eventually ended up doing a technical course at drama school and working in the theatre for several years. Finally tiring of the terrible hours, and having to spend a lot of time with ‘luvvies’,  I drifted into television where I now work as a freelance sound recordist, mainly on documentaries. I was married, now divorced and have a six year old son who is the most important thing in my life.

Feel free to post as much or as little of this as you like on your site, Angus. I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures to send. Somewhere, I know, I have a picture of Ann How in a Quaker costume but I don’t think she’d thank me for posting that one!
Sadly I won’t be able to make the Re-union. I’m working on a series for Endemol (creators of Big Brother) about house restoration. It will probably be as bad as it sounds. Please say hello to all the others who will be there. Best wishes. (19 Sep 2002)

Mixed memories

Peter Gaussen: It was really interesting to look at the FFSW73 site that I guess you have put together and to read the diverse comments of my school comrades. Certainly I have very mixed memories of my time at school. As the saying goes: it was the best of times and the worst of times. I met Eddie East when I was living in Swindon about 15 years ago; at that time he was married with, I think, two children. He was a social worker and seemed to have a very negative view of his school experiences. I also have spoken to David Stuckey a few times, most recently about 4 years ago. More recently I exchanged e-mails with Huw Gray who seems to have a great life in the States. I got a degree in Electronics at Southampton University and since then have been a microchip designer, specialising in mobile radio integrated circuits. About 12 years ago I met a lovely lady and we have been together since. We don’t have our own children but she has a son and four grand-children who are great We have lived in Camberley, Surrey for the past eight years. I think it is unlikely that I will attend the re-union, but I will try to put together some memories for your website. It would be interesting to get in touch with my compadres. Please feel free to put any of this on your website in the meantime. (September 2002, updated April 2007)

Lindy Brownbridge: Married, living in London, working in publishing. (Friends Reunited 10 September 2002)

Michele Wilson [Underwood]: It doesn’t seem so recent that I saw Joy. It was back in about April I think. I’ve been out in Mumbai for three months where Peter has been working on a large water treatment project which is funded by the World Bank. The project should have been finished by now – it’s been running for 12 odd years, but is still ongoing. We had to return to the UK however, because Melissa, our daughter, was also returning from her gap year trip and had been away for seven months (diving in the Phillipines, and travelling in Aus, NZ and Samoa). She’s off to Bristol at the end of the month, to do Biology, which actually clashes with the FSSWOS weekend, so there’s no chance of being there this time. Any new pics of the class of ’73 will be gratefully received (technology permitting!). (Sept 2002)

David Stuckey: Lives now in Elstree, Herts. Travelled and experimented with different communities after FSSW A’levels, then spent 3 years in Art School. Like Marcel Duchamp his main interest is breathing freely and he left in the last year of his course. He has had an aversion to ‘proper jobs’, but had some success as an aunt gigolo. There is no wife and no children.  After a few ‘mystical’ experiences with the Hare Krishnas’ he became addicted to Krishna prasadam (food offered to Krishna. there are worse things you can become addicted to!) and has remained friends with them since 1978 and still chants a bit everyday but doesn’t follow strictly.He has given musical support to many of their international festivals. After having his brain washed of dirty things in 78/79 at George Harrison’s Manor he visited his parents with shaven head, orange robes and no money etc. They thought he was mad and he was forced to see hospital psychiatrists. He eventually escaped and became a down and out for a while in Liverpool, London, Manchester and Cambridge developing an eclectic view of life. There was an understanding of karma and reincarnation and that we earth-beings  are here because we have a tendency to want to become the controller, owner and enjoyer (imitating the Supreme Controller) and that planet earth has facilities as a hospital for us to cure ourselves of this madness. All our material accomplishments are like zeros at the time of death, if there is not a spiritual perspective to them. Anything bad that happens to us can be seen as a reminder that we are in a place of suffering which is not our real home, similar to the story of the prodigal son. We are architects of our destiny and can learn/evolve from our suffering if we develop equanimity of mind to so-called good and bad. He gave up the idea of becoming a saint and qualified as a musical instrumental facilitator.

After six years of playing bass and guitar with Peruvians and Bolivians , he visited South America and became a playboy for  3 months. There are many ‘Bricheros’..(gringo hunters looking for white meat and financial security etc. over there). I’ve noticed the ability for natural affection is greater in less developed countries. The original intention was to absorb the culture and visit low profile shamans which he had some success with. He is now learning Salsa and plans to go to Chile next. His work has been in the capacity of lifeguard, guitar teacher, LSA  (learning support assistant), illustrator, clerk, driver, post, gardener, busker, musician, labourer, factory worker, painter,  assistant to an Associate Producer and digger up of the past. (Sept 2002)

Shân Lancaster [Poynder]: Biog: Left FSSW at 16, went to Elk Grove High in Chicago for a year and learned odd things like Native American History. Came back to Britain and started an A-level course. Dropped it like a hot potato at chance to join Somerset County Gazette at 18 as tea-maker and go-fer.
Bounced about local papers till I landed a job at the Sun in 1980.
Since then I’ve been through an assortment of jobs and papers. Currently freelancing all over the place.
Live between Brighton and London. Single, no kids.
No proper qualifications (got driving licence at 5th attempt).
Fond of gardening and being a wicked landlady.
Will that do?
Shan. (Sept 2002)

Huw Kruger-Gray: As with Giles, I have spent over eight years now living over here in the Colonies (ie the jolly old US of A), the last five of which have been in Boston, working with a small bio-technology company. My only regret over finally “selling out” and departing the academic world, being that I had not done so some ten years previously! However, I will not apologise for my use of any so-called “American English” (now there is an oxymoron, ha ha), for were I ever to use any such vernacular, my dear aged Mother (who recently received her own OU BA degree at the ripe old age of 81) surely would dis-inherit me instantly!So, will I be there in lovely Saffron Walden for the big re-union? Indeed, I shall hope to be (probably only courtesy of air-line frequent flyer miles) and to see just how some of you have turned out, after these past thirty+ years. Mind you, heaven knows where I shall stay there now, more than likely in my hire car! I have kept in touch with just two of my old school friends (yes, I did have a couple) over the years and, as Giles has said, have recently been in touch with several more of you, because of all this. My, what an eloquent and interesting bunch of people many of you do seem to have become. I shall look forward to seeing some of you again, very soon. Were these the “happiest days of our lives” then? It is up to each one of us to draw our own personal conclusions, but for me…

Simon Colbeck: Its impossible to summarise what has happened to me since (without writing an essay which would inevitably be handed in late or never) so I’ll try to be brief and bland.   I trained as a teacher but most of the time I’ve been a social worker and sometimes a manager in various local authorities and latterly in the fostering and adoption field.  I currently work for Harrow’s Fostering Team 3 days a week and do some lecturing in Early Childhood Studies at West Herts College.  I’ve been married to Emily for 12 years.  She’s a full time teacher and we’ve got 2 kids,  Lucy (14) and Sam (12), who would never dream of going to boarding school so we all live happily in the outer suburbia of Croxley Green near Watford.Please feel free to put all or any of this on the website and I hope to read some more gripping stuff before 28th!  I also look forward to catching up with you and many others at the reunion. (Sept 2002)

Shân Lancaster [Poynder]: I can’t get to the get-together – working every day that weekend – hope you take pics of everyone and put them on your website. Now a journalist. So is Margareta Pagano, she’s a City writer and I bumped into her in Wapping once years ago. (Aug 2002)

Helen Philip [Duddy]: ‘Might be at the reunion for a short while but other commitments that weekend may make it difficult’ . Love Helen. (Aug 2002)

David Stuckey: Probably I won’t be able to make it for the reunion but we’ll see. Are you going? Are you still a vegetarian? I read yesterday something by Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders ), saying that she likes to associate with vegetarians because they are intelligent! Well, I can get your association by email at least! Louise Paolozzi was living practically opposite me in Caversham Road, Kentish Town for a short while and she mentioned your good self. (2 August 2002)

Angus Willson: I have been married to Margaret and living in Kent for over twenty years. No kids.  I taught in secondary school for nine years and worked in the education advisory service on learning resources about the Channel tunnel from the start of construction to beyond the opening. Since, I have worked in a few small organisations developing further material for use in schools and colleges. (August 2002)

Joy Worrell: Had lunch with Michele a few weeks ago, for the first time since we left school, we must all be at ‘that age’. (July 2002)

Jonathan Clamp: I have been married to Alison for five years and we are expecting our first baby in August. I have three children from a previous marriage who are all quite grown up now (Rebecca 23, Laura 21 and Michael 18). I am intending to go to the re-union so I hope to see you there. (June 2002)

Steve Moody: We’re hoping to be at the School for some of the reunion, but I’ll be working that weekend which could mean being free either in the morning or afternoon or away for the whole weekend abroad, I won’t have details until the middle of the previous month.

Erica [Way] and I have been married nearly 24 years, live in Leamington Spa and have 2 kids: Michael 11, who was born with major problems due to a genetic disease called Crouzon’s Syndrome, and Catherine age 8 …. who’s pretty ‘normal’ whatever that is. Both are IVF [‘test tube’] babies hence their relatively young ages compared to how long we’ve been married. I work for easyJet at Luton as a Boeing 737 Captain, having been an Air Traffic Controller for many years after being thrown out of the School, switching to full time professional flying in the mid 1980s. (June 2002)

Madalena Argyraki: work freelance in publishing. I am married with two teenage sons. (Friends Reunited 29 April 2002)

2001

Anna Roberts: I left FSSW in 3rd form….1969 I think…finished schooling in and around Burwell and Cambridge area. After leaving school…qualified as a nurse. Met and married an American in USAF and moved to USA (California) for several years…working in a drug rehab unit.

When I got divorced, returned to UK…… working as a District Nurse around Burwell, Cambridge & Newmarket.

Currently living in North Wales…where I work as a District Nurse Teamleader….and live up a mountain with 7 cats!

Would be great to hear from anyone who knew me at school.. or indeed previous work places! (Friends Reunited 17 March 2002)

Susan Marriage: Footloose and fancy free, living in London. (Friends Reunited 29 November 2001)

Jo Jones [Atkins]: Took a degree in Russian and Computer Science at Aston University. Worked for eight years for Logica in London. Married to Mark, two teenage children, working part-time now as a library assistant. Living near Colchester and have a large garden (1 acre). Hobbies are amateur dramatics and bell-ringing. (Friends Reunited 4 November 2001)

Reader Feedback

2 Responses to “Snippets of news”

  • sue shaw says:

    I really enjoyed reading all these entries and finding out what you all did with your lives. It brought back school and I could picture each person vividly. I have variously been a journalist/editor, teacher, painter and decorator, egg-packer, playworker and most recently (and best of all) a stay at home mum (a rather old one, which has just enhanced the experience for me). I have a lovely daughter, Rosie aged 10, a wonderful son, Bizu, aged 5, and a dear husband, Geoff. I am currently working on my second children’s book as I would like to be a writer when I grow up.
    Sue Shaw

  • Fiona Wood says:

    I spent a year in France after leaving FSSW looking after children and then took a Law degree in Liverpool where I met my future husband. Having decided not to pursue a career as a solicitor or barrister I joined what was then Peter Lord (part of Clarks’ Shoes) on a graduate management scheme. After a year managing shops I moved to the Personnel (now Human Resources!) department and rose to the dizzy heights of Retail Personnel Manager before leaving in 1990 after exactly 13 years to the day. Some consultancy work followed whilst my son, now nearly 20, was growing up. We live in Wiltshire and I spend a good deal of my time taming the garden and singing in a local choir giving a few concerts a year to raise money for local, national and international charities.

    I attended the 2005 reunion and was delighted to meet up with so many “old” friends! I was one of the obviously lucky ones to have largely enjoyed my time at FSSW but, although I am saddened by some others’ experiences I am not unduly surprised. Our needs and experiences were obviously very different. Reading everyone’s comments has been very thought provoking…

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