JRGS Alumni Society - Reunion Meeting, 5th September, 2009
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First Grand Ruskin Reunion
Shirley Windmill - September 2009

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The First Ruskin Reunion, held on Saturday, 5th September 2009, was open to everyone who was a pupil, a teacher or a helper at the school, together with partners. The Shirley Windmill also was available for guided tours, with the sale of souvenirs by Martin Nunn, a former Geography and RI teacher.
   The 100+  participants met at The Surprise pub's Reception Room, adjacent to the Upper Shirley Road site, for a finger-food buffet. Price per Alumnus was £10.00. 2010 Reunion | 2011 Reunion | 2012 Reunion | 2015 Reunion

   Here is an illustrated list of attendees. We have created galleries of images from Mike Etheridge (JRGS
, Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-666) , Ian Davies (JRGS 1958-66) & Michael Noakes (1957-63).

  Copies of Ian Davies' images are included in the JRGS Alumni's Photostream gallery on Flickr.

  Copies of Paul Graham's images also are available as individual, downloadable files.

  Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) has uploaded an album of her images to Picasa.

   Our thanks to the event co-organizers: Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) and Richard Thomas (JRGS 1957-64).

Ruskin Reunion held on 5th September 2009 at The Surprise

Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) adds: Apart from the abiding sense of what good company everyone was, which made for an enjoyable day throughout, the most outstanding aspect for me was the way in Ruskin Reunion participants during the speeches and presentations. which the gathering went beyond the grammar school framework which is the raison d' etre of the website (and nothing wrong with that at all).
   Nevertheless, the presence of Peter Oxlade (JRCS 1940-44) took us back to the days of the Central School where Ruskin began, and a fair number of people were teachers or pupils in the comprehensive school, some in both. I was pleased, too, to see that not all those present were teachers or pupils, but that there was a librarian from the college, and even a life-class model!
   I think anything which can emphasise that, good though the grammar school may have been, John Ruskin's benign influence over many people began before, and continued after, that period.
   It was great to hear the message from Charles Smith, though disappointing that he could not be present; Mike Grant, who taught metalwork, is 88 and was much in evidence.
   I hadn't seen over The Mill since the 1970s, when it was full of hurdles and old desks, so it was great to see over it now that it has been refurbished; and that was a good break after the excellent lunch. By the way, one of the waitresses in The Surprise attended the college at Selsdon and did not know until yesterday that the school had ever existed at Shirley! So that was another little piece of education.
   I think that Tom Thomas (JRGS 1957-64) and the whole Macdonald Family deserve all our thanks for what was a most successful day, which deserves repeating in some format or other.
   My own preference is not to have a formal dinner, which might put some off because of the formality and also the probable cost; but mainly because you tend to be stuck on such occasions, and a buffet gives an admirable chance of circulating and talking to those you know, those you knew, and those you have no recollection of - the latter group likely to increase with age, at least in my case!

Anthony Hasler  (JRGS teacher 1961-71) adds: I have just noticed on The Mill the bit about Anne Smith's father, Wing Commander Millington. At the end of the war I was a pupil at King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, Essex (deputy head boy in 1949) and although not politically minded at that time - later I graduated externally at London University in a heavily-weighted politics BSc (Econ) -  I do remember that the MP for Chelmsford elected in 1945 was Wing Commander Millington of the Commonwealth Party. I little knew during the two years I overlapped with Anne on the school staff that she was his daughter!
   Although Anne is still very recognisable from those days I think I may not be, as she did not seem to recognise me at the reunion. Neither, I think, did Bill Patterson. We did not overlap but the staff cricket team was always sure to be beaten by Purley Grammar School staff when Bill (ex-minor counties player, I believe, and a teacher at Purley) bowled us out cheaply and then knocked off the required runs! We reckoned he owed us a pint or two afterwards but we're still waiting! J. C. Lowe, himself, was a former minor counties player, if my memory serves me well; he must have been delighted to hand the school over to Bill.
   I was delighted to meet several former colleagues on Saturday - have yet to give Brian Cook an earwigging for non-appearance. I was happy to recognise a few pupils from my time even if they did not all remember me!

ML adds: Sadly, Anne Smith's father, Ernest Millington, died in May of this year, following his 93rd birthday.

Peter Oxlade (JRGS 1940-44) adds: I thought the Ruskin Reunion was a success and pay tribute as do others to Richard "Tom" Thomas and Ian MacDonald, together with all those who assisted them in the organisation and all that goes with such an event. Well done and in keeping with the old School Motto.
   I had not realised that Mike Grant was 88 but he certainly does not look it. As I understand it, he was a teacher between the years 1971-86 - see the list of Attendees; Anne Smith describes him at a metalwork teacher.
   I had several lengthily conversations with Anne who rolled back the years with memories. Bill Patterson was as engaging as ever and "hosted" his table in the gentlemanly manner that one always expects of him.
   It was a pleasure to meet Paul Graham who has played such a part in production of The Mill and continues to do so with his latest contribution of photographs. The list of those I had the pleasure of meeting was extensive and it is a pity that not all those memories can be shared in this news page!
   When the event got under way at The Surprise I realised that there were but few members that I recognised but, in contrast, it soon became clear that all of us have that one thing in common be it JRCS or JRGS or JS Six Form College, or even JR College. To share the memories and experiences of so many was indeed a very great pleasure.
   On the evening of the Reunion I telephoned Charles E. Smith to report the day's events. Charles and Elisabeth were absolutely delighted hearing all that had happened during the day and of the people that I had managed to talk to. I did pass on to Charles all the good wishes that others had asked me to give him and I also told him that when I was asked to read out his Greetings to the Reunion making his apologies for not being to attend, he was really delighted.
   I told him that some of the content raised much laughter and large smiles on so many faces it was a joy to behold - yes, he was most delighted and thanked me for letting him know how the successful the day was.
   There was one other comment made about the value of The Mill website and how much we all owed to its webmaster for hosting such a valuable vehicle that had given so much pleasure to so many - would the Reunion ever had taken place in the depth that it had without the input from Mel Lambert over the years? Well done and thank you, Mel, from all of us.
Peter Oxlade reading out a personal message from Charles E. Smith, who could not attend the reunion.   This is the message from Charles E. Smith that I read out on his behalf:

A personal message from Charles Edward Smith, former JRGS Mathematics and Senior Sports Master, 1942-78, who will be celebrating his 97th birthday this coming 16th of November.

   “I had hoped to be with you at The Surprise for this Ruskin Reunion, but anno domini has told me otherwise. Disappointing, but there it is.
   “I enjoy being able to keep in touch by reading the contributions to the JRGS website, and being reminded of you all and of your varied achievements.
   “My very best wishes to you all, many of whom are now spread to so many parts of the world.
   “I shall be thinking of you at the reunion as I raise my glass to the memory of JRGS and all it meant to you and to me.
   “So it's goodbye for now from C.E.S. - you know “Smithy” … “Old Smut” that mild little man you used to brush to one side as you raced down the school corridor. No? Very well then. I’m that mixture of Attila the Hun, Genghis Kahn and The Ogre from the top of the beanstalk! Please yourselves.

   “Bless you all.” - CES August 2009 |Images by Ian Davies |

Terence Morris (JRGS 1942-50) adds: I enjoyed reading about the JRGS reunion last Saturday, which I was not able to attend. I think my year (class intake of 1942) may be getting a bit thin on the ground but there are still some of us about who were in the Vith between 1947 and 1950. Those with whom I am in contact are no longer in the Croydon area.
   What prompted me to send this message is to ask: Is anyone going to organise a party/event for Mr. Charles "Smithy" Smith when he turns 97 in November? I reckon ALL birthdays after 90 are special! I remember him with great affection as a really good teacher.
   My sport always being cycling I was rubbish at team games, but "Smithy" might be interested to know that to celebrate my 78th birthday I piloted a tandem (Croydon built by Chas Roberts of Gloucester Road, by the way) to the top of the Mont Ventoux for the second time in three years. But I would still be absolute rubbish at teams games, "Smithy"!
   Thanks to him I was introduced to the literature of the Old Testament in RI. And yes, we were terrified of him in the Tamworth Road gym in 1942. Commands like; "Up on the wall bars, boy!" and "Up! Up! Up!" come to mind. Yet I have a suspicion that he too, being new in 1942, might have been apprehensive about us "brats" - as new boys were then known in their first year. Ogre, Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun? Not really. He was a pussycat when you got to know him!
Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: While attending the Reunion I took the opportunity to revisit the colour photos taken in 1991 by Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62) shortly before demolition of the Upper Shirley Road school location. These Then & Now images show some of the former school buildings that were replaced by the new housing development within Postmill Close.
   I have also provided some personal recollections about the Ruskin Reunion on the News Pages.

Peter Hurn (JRGS 1967-73) adds: I've scanned an article on the Ruskin Reunion from the Croydon Advertiser.

 Rear (left-to-right): Norman Pippin (JRGS 1958-63), Andrew Strevens (JRGS 1958-63), Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62), John Byford (JRGS 1959-65), George Strelczuk (JRGS 1958-66), John Walker (JRGS 1958-65), and co-organizer Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) | Front: Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65), Barbara Room (Library Resources Manager 1976-2005) and Martin Nunn (JRGS teacher 1957-73).        ©2009 Croydon Advertiser All rights reserved.

"Croydon Advertiser" - 11 Sep 2009

Peter Hurn  offers: By the way, Cliff Cummins' aunt was at Lady Edridge School with my mum, and are still in touch!

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: And here is an announcement from the 4th Sept edition of the Advertiser:

Croydon Advertiser - 4th September