By Tim Nuttall
Former students belonging to Withernsea High School’s admissions intake of September 1964 enjoyed a trip down memory lane last weekend when members of the cohort gathered for their first large-scale reunion in 30 years.
The reunion at the Northfield Bar and Restaurant, organised as an opportunity to help the group collectively celebrate their 70th birthdays, sparked considerable interest from those seeking the chance to reconnect and reminisce with friends both past and present.
After months of planning, more than 30 former classmates returned to their roots from across the length and breadth of the country.
Such was the event’s appeal, that one attendee even jetted in from Australia to join the celebrations. For Pat Cremin (nee Lawson), who made the journey from her home in Sydney, the reunion was something not to be missed.
Having not been back to Withernsea in almost a decade, Pat said: “I last came back around nine years ago when my mum turned 90, and I probably would have been back again in-between then and now if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Knowing the reunion was happening, I thought now was a good time to come.”
Unable to make the previous reunion in 1993 because of family commitments back in Australia, Pat has managed smaller-scale reunions of her own on visits in the intervening years. However, the opportunity to reconnect as part of a wider celebration was one that was too good to miss.
She said: “The reunion was incredible, with lots of people I haven’t seen since I left school 52 years ago. The years just instantly rolled back and we found ourselves calling each other the nicknames we called each other at school. It was lovely.
“I love coming back, there’s something that draws you here. It’s just the place itself, and the people. The upbringing we all had connects us in a way that I don’t think would happen if you came from a big city, because you wouldn’t know each other as well.
“Withernsea is definitely the kind of place where you just know everybody – that strong sense of community is what draws people in. Although ‘home’ is now where my family is, this is a special place and it always will be.”
Earlier in the day, about 20 reunion members enjoyed a tour of the present-day Withernsea High School. Although many of the buildings they remember were demolished as part of the school’s 2015 rebuild and refurbishment project, sections of the original school remain which jogged more than a few memories.
Reunion co-organiser Sue Chadwick (nee Longman) said: “We are really grateful to the school for allowing us an opportunity to visit. Although a lot has changed, the main hall in particular brought back a lot of memories of whole-school assemblies and performances by the school choir.
“We were really impressed by the new school building which, although very different from the school we all remember, is clearly a great asset for 21st-century learning. I heard one of the group say the school tour was the highlight of the reunion for them as they found it so interesting.”
A spokesman for the school said: “It is always a pleasure to hear from former students and to offer our support in helping them reconnect and share memories. Wherever logistically possible, we are always delighted to welcome former students back to the school for opportunities to tour our site as part of their reunion plans. We are pleased that we could offer such an opportunity to the Class of 1964 and we are delighted to hear that their reunion was such a success.”
Following the tour of the school, reunion members had time to explore the area and visit family or friends ahead of the evening’s main event at the Northfield. Those attending were invited to bring with them any relevant photographs/memorabilia that they had from their time at school, with many such examples being sourced to help inspire memories.
Sue added: “Everybody had so many photos and it was surprising how many people brought items with them – many of which people hadn’t seen before.
“We were delighted that so many had travelled to be with us and, on behalf of the organisers,
I would like to thank them all for coming. Although Pat had travelled the furthest, we were pleased that people had joined us from as far away as London, Wales and the Lake District.
“The event ran really smoothly, and we would like to thank the Northfield for their help and support in making our reunion such a success.”