The events over the last three months have been quite extraordinary and, at times, difficult to comprehend.
The response to our idea of holding a reunion has been overwhelming in every sense and Nigel and I still cannot quite grasp the enormity of it all. Many times have we had to pinch ourselves to ensure that this wasn't a dream. People have been kind in congratulating our hard work but, in truth, we just got our heads down, got on with it and thoroughly enjoyed it all. It has helped in that we were just the right combination of characters to take on this task. Nigel has been brilliant in organising the venue, transport, food and drink whilst I got on with the contact details, communication and, of late, have been tied up with the website. We have constantly bounced ideas off each other, most of which we found compatible and it wasn't often that we had to revisit any detail.
But of course what we didn't take into account is why we did this in the first place. It has been said that it is only the Class of '59 who would have thought of such a reunion and who would have been confident of such a positive response.
A reunion on this scale has not taken place previously and I very much doubt will take place in the future.
Every member of staff with whom I have talked over the years about Hathershaw in the 60's has said that our year was unique. We had a special relationship with each other and with the staff, which is why, when we came of age, our year outperformed all other years before and after in academic, sporting and athletic achievements. Probably the best record in Oldham. Evidently that spirit still remains. So, to be honest, Nigel and I were on a bit of a banker.
But what has been most heartwarming is what has happened as a result of organising this: Tony Peck rang Roy Smith for the first time in many years; Norma has phoned Joan Lloyd, Denise Pennington, Jacqueline Holt, Annie Bailey and Christine Shaw - as well as having lunch with Margaret Taylor.; Brian Hartley has contacted Colin Waldron and Les Andrew; I looked up Ian Wrigley and therereafter Stuart Adams. They then contacted the other members of the Technique and as a result both Les and Peter are flying in from Canada and Derek from Spain. All the members of the band originating from Hathershaw will be together for the first time since 1969; Peter Rostern tracked down Les Andrew via this website and spoke to him for the first time in many years - they didn't know that they both lived in Canada and what's more only 60 miles from one another. Harold Wareing and Sheila & Ron Healey have enjoyed reviving memories and have written to say so; Nigel has remade contact with Sue Robbie much to the delight of them both; Andy Barlow was almost in tears at having been contacted by his old friends.Brian Hartley very kindly sums up what others have said to me when he wrote " The other really good thing about this reunion is that the web site is addictive,I look at it everyday and I am sure so do others. Also because of the reunion old friends are contacting each other. Les and myself have been sending emails to each other all the time. Long may it continue hopefully after the reunion"
The 'Brief Lives' section of the website is proving to be very popular and classmates are enjoying catching up with one another, something else they hadn't done previously even though other opportunities on the web had afforded them the opportunity.
There is now a history of Hathershaw School, a list of the staff and a pithy description of their exceptional personalities. There are memories and recollections from all contibuters which together give a flavour of what life was like at Hathershaw during those times, all of which would not have come about otherwise.
And finally I have got to know Nigel again after all these years since we were together at school. You may imagine that we have been in regular contact since that time, but the truth of the matter is, that for the last three years, we have met only three times when he, Colin, Mike, Graham and I got together for our annual dinner (which I hope will continue). Prior to that we had not seen each other for many, many years. I have been to see many of his productions at the Lyceum and other theatres but have never been able to get near to him as he has always been surrounded by adoring 'luvvies', thrusting bouquets upon him and hanging on his every word.
I have enjoyed every minute of his company.
Our only reward will be to see you enjoy the reunion and hope the memory of it stays with you for a long time to come.
"We're goin' to the end of the line"
The above was written some days before the event actually took place.
A comment from Keith