Surprisingly, for a Saturday morning, Ribblesdale High School was a hive of activity!  The School was open and final preparations were being made by staff for the School’s 85th Birthday celebration.  Special displays had been put up, archives searched, copied and showcased, performances practiced and cakes, treats and drinks were prepared.

At 10am the original oak doors of the main entrance swung open and people and guests arrived consisting of ex-pupils, staff and friends of Ribblesdale.  They were all eager to have a look around the School and relive recent or distant memories.    One of the first groups to be unexpectedly reunited were Roslyn, Lynda, Tom, John and Rodney (Rodney travelled all the way from Thailand!).  The group were then unexpectedly joined by their ex PE teacher Mrs Moorhouse (all pictured below).  These were some of their memories:

Lynda: “Best years of my life, great people and teachers.”

Rodney: “It is true when they say ‘wish I knew then what I know now’, great times!”

By mid-morning the School was full of people walking around the corridors looking at the original features, many of which the School still retains. They were pleased that the layout of the main building had remained largely unchanged.  Along the corridors, decade boards had been erected displaying the school throughout the years with photographs and key events from each decade.  There were lots of interesting comments particularly relating to past fashions and hairstyles!

In the Dining Hall, guests were given the opportunity to look back in history and view the original registers along with Headteachers’ logbooks.  One of the most important entries was that of pupil number 170, which was made on Monday 22nd August 1932, the entry was that of the special guest of honour, Mr James Parker MBE. 

Mr Parker, who will be aged 97 in October, was part of the first cohort of pupils and can remember waving the flags for the HRH Princess Royal as she officially opened the school.  Mr Parker went on to describe being somewhat of a “handful at school and having a bit of a reputation” and said that he enjoyed his time at Ribblesdale.  He left the School at the age of 14 and initially worked as an errand boy for a local grocer.  Obviously, education was to play a huge part in his life as he went on to be Chair of Governors at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School and was awarded an MBE for his services to Education.

Mr Parker enjoyed a tour of the school and was surprised by just how much it had changed.   As with all the guests he was treated to some tea and cake in the Sports Hall.  Mr Parker was accompanied by his family including grandson Jeremy Pomfret and great grandchildren Chloe, Sophia and Joshua Pomfret.  Mr Stephen Cox, our 10th Headteacher, was delighted to meet Mr Parker and said, “It was an absolute pleasure to talk to Mr Parker and hear his memories of the very first few years of the school.  Life at Ribblesdale before the Second World War was certainly a very different experience than now!  However, the sense of community, consideration for others and the determination to provide the very best educational experience seems to have transcended the former decades of the school”.  Mr Cox presented Mr Parker with a commemorative gift for the occasion.

Mr Parker was an amazing guest and was thrilled to be invited along with many other people.

Another guest of honour was Constance Carter (nee Baxter), who is the great grandmother of a recent ex-pupil Georgia Walker-Carter, Constance was Head Girl in 1942.  Constance had a great time and looked through the 1942 log book with the Headteacher and read about her  contribution to an assembly as well as the Headteacher’s record of a German bomber flying over before releasing its payload on Chatburn!  Constance remembers this as clear as day.

It was a fantastic event and people were entertained by performances from Miss Ella Shaw and Year 10 and 11 GCSE performing arts groups.  Some of the memories shared were:

 “Thank you for such a lovely day, fantastic memories of Ribblesdale School.  Met up with old school friends and my fondest memory was in French with Mr Bulton (heart-throb!)”.  Helen Woodworth, Class of 1966-1970.

 “Loved lunchtime country dancing, loved school”.  Jackie Leeder 1982.

 “Great 5 years of my life.  All the teachers were great my favourite was Mr Hill”.  Maria Leeder 1983.

Mr Cox commented  “It was an amazing day meeting a huge number of former pupils and staff, the emotions of many visitors as they relived important years from their school days was palpable.  It was wonderful to see people turn up who had no idea who was going to be there and suddenly find they were facing a classmate.  A fantastic community event showcasing the school’s 85 years since opening in 1932.”

At the end of the day, the following group of ladies were late to class:  Sharon Halstead, Maria Leeder, Lesley Ann Hibbert, Amanda Sutcliffe, Marie Hartley, Louise Littler, Naomi Jeffers and Jackie Gardner had a whistle-stop tour of the School and a great time remeniscing and remembering how school was and came away with some lovely memories.

The day was cherished by all of the Ribblesdale family.  We look forward to the next milestone and will be welcoming our next wave of prospective pupils and their parents at our Open Evening on Thursday 28th September.