Class of 1978 Reunion
It was with some trepidation that a party of OWs assembled themselves for a weekend reunion on a beautiful May weekend this year. Who were these fellows, what were they to expect and would they get on after 38 years? Why did they do it, what did they do, and how did it go?
The party comprised ten pupils from VI Science B 1976-8. In addition, there was one retired lab technician (John Oliver), and four long-suffering WAGs, who managed to inject moderation and charm to a potentially rumbustious occasion.
We met on Saturday at our hotel in Nutfield and proceeded in convoy order to descend upon Whitgift itself. We were met by Donna Lewis, the school’s splendid and welcoming Marketing and Alumni Relations Assistant, and two very smart boarding pupils, and led on a memorable tour of the school. Big School elicited nostalgia, the old science labs brought back very special memories, and we marvelled at the swimming pool, sports facilities and the magnificent grounds.
Returning to our hotel at Nutfield, we convened for a drinks reception and splendid dinner, spiced with nostalgia, bonhomie and tales of yore. But, most importantly, we welcomed our special guests of honour, Dr Peter King, Head of Biology and our inspirational teacher from those days, and his gracious and lovely wife, Marigold. We marvelled at their astonishing youth and vigour compared with our advancing frailty, receding hairlines and failing sight, and exchanged memories, stories and laughter. David Grant rounded off the event with a superbly witty and natural after dinner speech. After a round or two in the bar, we repaired to bed. The next morning, we all breakfasted together and, trying not to show too many emotions, wended our various ways home, from Cornwall to Edinburgh.
This was a wonderful, light hearted and positive experience. We rejoiced in friendships rekindled, effortlessly taking up where we had left off after the field trips, post A-level parties and associated misbehaviours. We toasted absent friends, gave thanks for lives enriched by the legacy of Whitgift, and felt a deep sense of gratitude to all our teachers for their patience and skill. In particular, we were honoured by the presence of the inestimable Peter, and were touched by sadness that our other teacher of Biology from that era, John Yeo, was no longer with us.
We would thoroughly encourage old friends from any era who wish to arrange a reunion, to contact Donna. And if we can offer any tips in doing so, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Julian Gunn, OW (1970-78)