This was a weekend that we will always remember – not just as the annual Remembrance Day but as the 100th Anniversary Remembrance Day. Yesterday, I attended a musical memorial at St Aidan’s Church, Skelmanthorpe, with children from local schools acting and singing and the Skelmanthorpe Brass Band. Most moving, for me, was the reading of the names of all the boys and young men from the local community who had not returned from WW1 (the bodies of many of them were not even found).
Today, I joined many members of the Batley community at a service at the Cenotaph in Batley’s Memorial Garden. It poured with rain throughout the service and wreath-laying but the sun came out as we made our way to the town hall for a welcome and warming cuppa. Quite by chance, I met a lovely lady who had come to represent her husband who died only a month ago and who (she said) would have been there laying a wreath on behalf of one of the services (I don’t remember which).
This week I have also learned that my great auntie, grandma’s sister Edie, who was a nurse during WW1, actually served in France and was awarded a medal. I hope to find out and write more about her and, hopefully, include some photographs.
So – to return to my time at SJC. I believe that I settled in well and, by and large, I enjoyed my time there. As I’ve already explained, I was taught by nuns throughout my school life but here there were also lay teachers. Our headteacher was a nun and she knew the name of every one of the thousand girls in the school. The nuns included some serious scholars who, in the main, were also good teachers. The lay teachers were a mixed bunch, some good but many of whom would definitely not be up to scratch in the profession today.
I enjoyed embarking on new subjects, especially French (Où est Toto? Où est-il? – The first sentence in my first French textbook, as I remember). I was less enamoured by Latin, although I can still recite “Little Jack Horner”. I began to lean towards science subjects, which led to a rather disastrous choice of ‘A’ Levels because we had to make choices in 4th Form which excluded either science or humanities.
I never shone at sports or PE and never represented the school at any team or solo sport. Our sporting activities included netball in the winter (no hockey, it was “too rough”) and tennis and rounders in summer. Occasionally we even had modern dancing lessons. My partner and I were once described by the teacher as looking like “brushes sweeping the floor”!! I did, however, spend several years in the school choir.
The highlight of 4th Form was finding my penfriend and lifelong friend, Françoise. I was at the back of the queue when penfriends were being handed out and the girl I was given was hoping to meet someone who lived in Scotland. I hoped that her geography was not too good! Anyway, I wrote to her and she wrote back! And so began a friendship which has lasted almost 60 years. My children all know her and her children and grandchildren too.