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Alumni - Priestmead Past Stories

Stories from our Priestmead Alumni!


Philip Barnett - left Priestmead in 1963


"I was at Priestmead from 1957-1963.


At my last Christmas concert (1962) I sang a solo verse in a Christmas carol. I was a painfully shy boy but this led to a life of singing and performing, first as a hobby and latterly as a profession. I have even performed for and met the Queen.


This small event in the life of the school had a major (positive) impact on my life.


But there is a more important story to tell from that first solo performance. The concert for the parents went so well that the choir repeated the programme for the rest of the school. Sitting in the audience that day was a little girl called Judy. She was two years below me, but as the same teacher took the A stream for the final two years at the school, Judy and I were both taught by Miss Ashby, an excellent teacher.


In 1976 I married Judy and she vividly remembers that concert and my first solo."


What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing Philip & Judy!  Was this the first Priestmead Pupils' marriage? Let us know!

The English Family (shared by Nicholas English) - left Priestmead in 1936, 1971 and 1975


"I would just like to convey my congratulations on Priestmead's 80th birthday celebrations.

I was a pupil at Priestmead Infant and Junior School from 1965 to 1971. My infant school teacher was Miss Weaver and in the juniors my teachers were Mrs. Beaman, Mrs. Lemon, Mrs. Moss and Mr. Layton. My sister Amanda attended between 1968 and 1975 during which time the school changed to becoming a First and Middle School and she was one of the first groups to stay for Year 7.

More interestingly, our 92 year old father Leslie English, was one of the first pupils to move into the building you will soon be vacating. He moved into the area in the summer of 1934 and as the new building was not ready he attended classes in the pavilion of the Kenton Cricket Club in Kenton Park Road for the Autumn Term before moving into the new building in January 1935. I suspect the official opening ceremony was not held until 1936, hence the 80th anniversary this year, but he definitely spent 1935 in the new brick building (as opposed to the huts which were already in existence).

I have attached two photographs of the medal he won in 1936 for coming 2nd in the sack race for 11-12 year olds. A very early piece of photographic memorabilia you can add to your anniversary collection. Unfortunately none of us will be able to attend the celebration as we have lived in Canada since 1978. Amanda and I visited the area during the summer and could not resist a walk down Hartford Avenue to take one last look and a photo (attached) of the Priestmead "tower" at the end of the driveway.

The excellent teachers I had at Priestmead and subsequently at Downer Grammar/Canons High School   influenced me to become a teacher and I am now in my 32nd year in the profession and currently the Vice-Principal of a high school in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough.

All the best for the celebrations on November 5th and for the move into the new building."

It's great hearing how children who started at Priestmead are now teaching all over the world!  Really inspiring!

Jeffrey Philip Taylor - left Priestmead in 1956


"My name is Jeffrey Philip Taylor (always known as Philip).


I attended Priestmead from September 1949 to July 1956.  I was 4 years and 7 months old and I still remember that first day.  My mother took me and we assembled by the stage in the large hall on the ground floor.  My name was not called out by the headmistress, Miss Woods, but my mother insisted that since my two older brothers already attended the school so should I.  Along with the rest of the intake I was marched off to a classroom in what was “the huts”.  These were wooden structures built around the edge of the infants playground.  We later transferred to a classroom in the main building that opened out on to a small quad.


Even from the early years right through to Junior school the emphasis for learning was “the three Rs”, reading, writing and arithmetic.


Time was also spent on physical exercise and sports. Football, cricket, rounders and netball were played in school and against other primary schools.


Food was still restricted in supply for many years after World War 2 and nearly all the pupils had school dinners.  I remember the food was ghastly and if you did not finish the food you did not go out to play at lunchtime.


Discipline was very strict and any transgressions were dealt with severely, caning was the ultimate punishment.


In my final year, Year 7, age 10/11 all children took the 11 plus exam, the results of which determined which secondary school you went to.


Overall my time at Priestmead was challenging but, in the main, was a happy and successful one.


I will attach some photographs from my days at Priestmead and would be keen to visit if you have an open day before the old building is knocked down.


Philip Taylor"


Children today have it so much easier!  Great memories and great photos!  We are still great at cricket!

Neica Gull (nee Fenton) - left Priestmead in 1981




I have been through some old photos and found one of the annual gym display that took place at the summer fair. This would  have been in approximately 1980. The teacher crouching down was the lovely Welsh Mr Jones. I remember lots of after school practices in the run up to this big event. That's me about to do a dive forward roll!


I have really happy memories of Priestmead and especially teachers like Miss McCauley in the infants who I stayed in touch with and actually came to my wedding. Mrs Walters whose standards were high and she accepted nothing less than perfection when it came to writing with a fountain pen. I am thankful to Miss Cooper who started my love of netball in the juniors and I still play and coach and umpire the game 35 years later. Mr La Farge was the sporty male teacher that all the girls had a crush on. I remember the freezing cold huts and also swimming lessons with Mr Godfrey who was exasperated with my efforts but had the patience of a saint.


My headmistress in the infants was Mrs Rees - my only memory of her was all her bracelets jangling in Assembly when she sang. I remember the silver jubilee celebrations in 1977 and the play we performed.  I was honoured to play the Queen herself and my mum made me a long green dress to wear, it felt very special.  I remember the caretaker up on the roof dressed as Father Christmas every year and such lovely Christmas parties.


Miss Ashcroft the headmistress in the juniors was truly scary and you really did not want to cross her path.I had Miss Glennie for two years who I secretly liked but it wasn't cool to like someone who appeared to be such a dragon of a teacher. I was very keen to please her so she got the best from me. I have vivid memories of our trip to Butlins in Minehead in 1981 which was first time away from home and a distinct 'growing up' moment before we went to secondary school.


I still have lots of my old Priestmead reports and some of my exercise books from the juniors. I intend to come along to the reunion with my four younger sisters who all attended Priestmead too."


Wow...5 sisters all going through Priestmead.  It is great to hear how each teacher made a difference!

Carolyn Silberfeld Pupil 1958-1964


"I have wonderful memories of my time there and the support I had from many teachers. I am always citing Priestmead’s motto ‘Onwards and Upwards’ and feel it still retains its appropriateness in so many challenging situations.


I have particularly fond memories of singing in the choir and being asked to do solos for concerts. It gave me a love of singing, which I have to this day.


When I was training at Great Ormond Street we needed to spend a couple of weeks in a primary school. Unsurprisingly, I asked to do my ‘placement’ at Priestmead.


It felt so familiar during the two weeks I was there, although the school seemed very small in comparison to how it seemed when I was a pupil there.


I haven’t been back since the placement in 1975 but continue to remember Priestmead with great fondness.


I have been a university lecturer for the past 25 years,  23 years of which have been dedicated to developing Early Childhood Studies degrees.


I still have my blazer and beret which I kept as keepsakes of such pleasant times!"


Well we no longer have the beret and blazer, but the pegasus logo lives on!


Alison Webb 1970-1976


"I thought I woud share some of my memories with you, I was there in 1970-1976 although left in 1977 because we got held back a year. Teachers at the time were strict very strict and very disciplined, I can nearly remember all of them Mr Hart (strict but well nice) Miss Ashcroft & Miss Glennie – Ms Glennie was needlework teacher and hated the word “OK” and made me repeat apologies of saying OK 50 times, and made me hunt for my needlework needle on the floor with a magnet, Mr Godfrey (the nicest teacher ever what a legend he was – He taught me maths, Mr La Farge excellent left hand chinty and hockey player, Mr Dunn dark suits and a nice smile, Mrs Leigh my teacher who made you recite in year 1976 and 1977 “never a lender or a borrower be”, Ms Wheable who used to go mad if you scraped your chair, Ms Cooper netball tyrant  she was good at netball but Ms Beaumont was better than her, Ms Howe gosh first year of middle school was so nice and gentle to us little children. Mrs Hood the school dinner lady who was very strict looking but had a heart of gold. Miss Jarman was nice and used to give us a cuddle. Mrs Waters was very well spoken and hardly smiled but was pleasant and kind. Mr Rawlings was fierce and scary and used to smoke a pipe. Mr Layton was very tall, but a nice man.The food was not horrible, but I have never been able to eat fish and mash potatoe and that was a Friday favourite, Semolina was nice, and the sponge with icing on the top my favourite. The huts had a nice smell, but were rather wobbly. Mrs Jay music teacher well cool, she organised the 1977 Silver Jubilee School Leavers Do, absolutely fantastic as we sang through English Irish Welsh and Scottish Songs linking the nations together, some boys dressed up as solders, I was in the Irish section and had to dance around to When Irish Eyes are Smiling and on Mother Kelly’s Door Step oh my…. We saved up and raffled for the outside swimming pool, I had 4 sisters who attended Priestmead from 1966-1980 only 2 of us used the pool, the pressure to sell those raffle tickets for the Summer Fair was intense. I attended this year, 2017, and was amazed at how the field had become, fond memories of running around the field in the summer time. Summer fair had barn dances, horse rides, and throw the wet sponge at Ms Cooper, that was always a favourite and then a parents barn dance in the evening."


Such vivid memories...Priestmead really had a lasting impression on you! Thanks for sharing!