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#41 [url]

Sep 5 11 2:42 AM

G/day Parky.its Ken Grimes here mate.have just joined the .sight. and finding it really interesting to the point it just might destroy my social life, by being on the computer all the time, 

Just briefly have been living in Australia with my four kids since 1973, try to get back to the UK every two or three years, or when funds are available.

The last time I managed the trip was last year, and was fortunate to make the reunion at Highfield were I had a ball, meeting up with some of the old crew and having a beer together in the cricket pavilion and sharing heaps of old photos, which I believe  was down to good old Phil backed up by Micky Mapp  who I might add as a memory like a dam Elephant, 

Bert B was there with his sister and manage a word or two with him, the biggest problem with reunions is there is never ever enough time to get around to every one .

take care mate Ken           
  

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dave

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#42 [url]

Sep 5 11 7:52 AM

Welcome aboard Ken. Nice to have a new Highfield member join. I was at Harpenden between 1965 and 1973 so a little after your time.

Know what you mean about the time spent on this site, I often get told off by the boss for being on the computer too much.

Dave

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royl

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#43 [url]

Sep 8 11 1:38 AM

  An Observation    
   I have just read the account of the home at Dinas Powys and thought how similar the conditions were to other branches but were not so at Harpenden. Then I realised that for some who arrived after me those conditions were the norm.  I arrived at Harpenden in 1949 and went into Clifton house where the old system was in force. I joined a group of 10 other boys. The lifestyle was quite regimented by a caring but austere Sister. Everything was carried out exactly the same way and to the same timing every day except Sundays.  The atmosphere was one of a kindly institution but still an institution. I soon realised however that some of the other house were run on the 'family' lines decribed by many others.  This makes me think that I had arrived right at the time of system change. 
       From what I have read on here it seems that Harpenden ran behind the timing of the change that happened in the other branches and I wondered why.  Could this have been because Ted Shutt was more cautious than other governors? Did we have an older average in our Sisters and therefroe a greater resistance to change.  Or was there something else?  
        Harpenden was probably the most self sufficient brach in the whole of the NCH.  It provided for itself all of the services that one might expect in large village, Houses, Hospital, Bakery, Laundry, fruit and vegetables, milk, cobblers, carpenters, school, chapel, printers.  I could go on, the list appeared endless.   This self sufficiency could have fed an isolationist policy that had existed up until about the time of my arrival.   From this time it appeared to me that first the school was closed and for the first time children mixed with the local kids at local schools.  The start of conversion of the houses into flats was probably the next significant change. Then things like milk started to be purchased and delivered by local firms.  Quite a few of us were encouraged to join the local clubs much to the chagrin of the older boys who had not been permitted this level of freedom.  The door was slowly opened until the latter residents ran their own club complete with the 'dvils own music!'
          It now strikes me as odd that the NCHs largest branch should have been the least progressive. Or maybe someone knows better?

Roy



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philip

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#44 [url]

Sep 8 11 7:14 AM

Roy,
Sister Pearl kept your 1949-1950s life of Harpenden well into the mid 1960s, add to the Devils Music in her mind was probably the new Devil brought into (govern) Highfield (except for flat 1) in the form of Roycroft, who tried his best to bring us into the Mid 20th century,  but was defeated in total completion by a few of the older Sisters who would not budge on their 1940s life style.
We went to ordinary day schools in the village, but in Pearl's mind that was as far as us youngsters our freedom went, it seemed that it was no fratenising with the enemy at the end of the school day or at weekends.
Our friends did get to see Highfield a couple of days a year with either the main sports events or the open day, but that was as much as they saw of our home.
Flat 1 was possibly run the same way for the last 50 years, no friends from other houses were ever allowed into our flat, and if a friend cane to call to see if you were coming out, the event would end with you doing chores for the rest of the day.
There was nothing wrong with the way Sister Pearl looked after us, and perhaps we did get one of the best Sisters in the branch, but she had never moved with the times, one of the reasons Roycroft managed to get her off been a Sister looking after children and put her on other duties two years before her retirement.
--------------------
As to Dinas Powis, I can vouch for its easy way of life, having spent two lots of two weeks holiday there after I had left the care of the NCH.
There was more freedom, less regimented chores and doing things because they had always been that way. We were not allowed to run riot, and punishments were still given for when we did things that were totally disaproved of, but it was a different life, we were even rewardsed with extra sweets, if we did chores that might not have been normally required, and pranks that at Harpenden would have got us all standing up in a corridor at night for an hour or so, were just forgotton.

NCH life could be so different.

Philip

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#45 [url]

Sep 8 11 9:04 AM

Roy/Phillip

Reading you comments I now see Harrogate in a clearer perspective. Firstly on arrival at Fairfield,Harrogate in 1942 we had Sister Gertrude Agar as Superintendant and a very strict stiff and starchy regime.

Then in 1945 Pop Roycroft arrived and changes were swift and effective. His main change I think was that each house would have 6 boys and 6 girls when previously they had 12 girls or 12 boys.

We always went out to local schools etc and I think my previous blog is worth repeating here.

Clive

Most if not all of my generation who were brought up in Fairfield,Harrogate will be able to empathise very strongly with thisyour well written article.There are many key issues which served to provide the well rounded ethos of the NCH we knew and I list just a few which come to mind.

1. The Methodist Church and it's continued support and fund raising.2. The Sisterhood which recruited and trained those extremely dedicated ladies who looked after our everyday needs.3. Involvement with the local community in so many ways such as school/local church and Sunday School/ sport/cubs/brownies/guides/scouts/boys brigade/dance lessons/concerts in local and regional churches and theatres/Fete Days when we proudly showed ourselves to the public.4. Discipline mostly without any form of capital punishment but by reason and example.

The bond between the children and their "Sister" obviously varied with individuals but I think the gratitude and respect is surely felt by us all.

I cannot say whether later generations were any better served by the introduction of "House Parents" but I hope they have similar fond memories of their childhood


David

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#46 [url]

Sep 8 11 2:17 PM

HI Philip and Roy!
Yes, I can corroborate what you are both saying about Harpenden in the 40's and early 50's.  I came on board there in 1946, and it remained pretty much the same through the years I was there until I left in 1952.  It was a rather regimented life--very structured, routine and predictable.  And Sister Cora was definitely of the "old school" style of care--very fair, very even, and showing no favoritism, but also not much that was progressive either.  At the time, that worked very well for me as a young child from a very disrupted life before arriving there.  The stability was a godsend!  But as you mention, there wasn't very much of a social life.  I don't remember visiting other houses (although Bert reminded me of a time I was invited to tea at his house!), and I don't remember any friends from the other houses coming to ours for a visit or tea or anything.  As to inviting school friends from outside the NCH--it just didn't happen in my time!
I did enjoy being able to go to the Church Green School in Harpenden, and made friends there, one of whom continued to be a friend since we both went to the same school in St Albans later.
Being a rather introverted child, I enjoyed the woods and fields of the Harpenden branch, and spent a lot of time alone.  That might have been a personality trait, but it doesn't seem like there was much effort in our time to help with our social needs.  It was just the times, no doubt.  I see from other's later experience that things changed quite a bit, with having a youth club, TV, pets, visits, more "outside" activities and such. 
I remember Mr Roycroft, and remember liking him, but he wasn't to become the governor until after I had left there--so any changes he made (or tried to!) were after my time.  But it's fascinating to hear from those of you who were there later and how it was for you!
Shelagh

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royl

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#47 [url]

Sep 8 11 2:48 PM

   A major upheaval
   One of the major changes I forgot to mention was the arrival of girls in Clifton. I cannot think what those girls had done to deserve such a traumatic episode but somehow four were chosen to take on the role of adventurer/ice breakers.   Somehow I dont think that volunteering was even thought of.
         The preparations were fairly low key, a chunk of Sister May's family day room was hived off with plasterboard and turned into a bedroom by the application of one coat of distemper. This white mark from the distemper was ever present on their clothes, worn as a badge for bravery ( putting up with the enemy); but when found on a boys shirt produced an invitation visit to Mr Shutt's office after Saturday Chapel.
          Two girls, June J. and Jacqueline S.  went to Sister May's family and used the spare staff room that would have been for the live in help.  Joy W.  and Dorothy D. joined our( Sister Lottie's) family using the distempered room. The only other concession given to them was that they were only allowed to use that Holy of Holies, the upstairs Staff Bathroom.  Now if a boy had been found in there it would have brought the world down on his head. But, when one of the girls was caught coming out of the boys night loo(Upstairs) she was just told it could be 'unpleasant in there'. Where was the fairness in that?
The first few days were full of experimental interchange. I mean just how were we macho boys meant to deal with these odd things.  These peculiar things were not interested in trains and even had the gall to complain when we honoured them by borrowing their books to make tunnels with. We soon found that arguments were always lost by the boys, this was because these oddities would start bawling before you'd even got them down to the boot room to sort it out properly.    Mind you one didnt want to be too hard as they always seemed to have goodies in their rooms.  They even had sweets left a good hour after they had been purchased!
          Life slowly became less trial and error in our dealings and many of us boys just went back to out tribal ways.  Some/one? of the older lads obviously took a little longer to cure his curiosity and took investigation a bit further. He was caught looking at forbidden  things in the dirty laundry basket, this produced two results: One, another Clifton name invited to Mr Shutt's office after Saturday  Chapel and, two, a padlock appeared on the dirty laundry clothes basket .  One morning one of the younger boys found a peculiar garment in the clean clothes left on his bed.   It was gruesome, like a small waistcoat, kind of made of thick canvas with heavy tapes running down it and rubber buttons. Now rubber buttons definately gave it a psuedo medical appearance and gave the older boys clues as to it's use. When these were voiced the youngster took hold of  the object between finger and thumbs and holding it at arms length  ran from the bedroom and threw the offending object out onto the veranda just as Sister May was bringing in some washing. Non-plussed Sister continued up the steps, removed the object from her head and made the situation worse for the lad by saying '' you really should not be playing with the girls undies"   cringe is too weak a word by far.  
         A slow normalisation did take place but Sister Lottie spotted my hormones starting to jump about before anymore girls upset their current Sister and got put on the transfer list.This had me shifted to the 'older boys only' Ashcroft House.  This incidently was the only 'family' run by a married couple and not a Sister in the whole of Highfield. There were other older boys houses run by couples outside of Highfield.

Roy



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#48 [url]

Sep 8 11 6:26 PM

I see in the 1949 programme Sister Pearl was working with the Brownies. When I was at Highfield in the mid 1960s, I never realised she had such an active live all theose years ago.
Philip

-philip

Hi Philip!
Yes I remember that!  That's how I got to know Sister Pearl a bit--along with Sister Mary.  Fun times, learrning how to make knots with ropes as I remember it.  I was hopeless at the time!  Maybe better at it now, with some years of knitting experience! :-)
Shelagh

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malsal

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#49 [url]

Sep 8 11 6:28 PM


Hi All  How lucky I was . I had been to Frodsham  first which frankly was horrible ,Then my guardian angel took over and I went to Harrogate in 1946 when the saviour  Mr Roycroft had started his changes ,and I think he was the blue print for the future changes in the NCH  ,he dropped the Orphanage before it was passed by the powers that be .I honestly believe he was a GOD send to the NCH and he was the difference between the homes .  Wishing you all well   Malc S  

PS  there's a saying cometh the hour cometh the man ,it worked when Churchill became PM and it worked when POP took over .

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#50 [url]

Sep 10 11 7:08 AM

G/day to all, in particular Roy and Shelagh , on reading through both of your experances of times spent at Highfield at around the time we there, rocked so many memories for me,

We the Grimes family all six of us kids, me being the eldest spent until 1951 up north in Bradford and at the time the place, like most other industrial towns, was a dump, dark grimy fog every other day not to mention cold, but we never knew any different untill the local council [thank god ] in there wisdom grabbed us all and put us into care until they made up there mind what to do with us, not easy to place all six together, which believe this or not it was me insisted that we stay together, and for the first time ever someone took notice of what I had to say, 

Ok your thinking what's all this got to do with the price fish a chips, well after months of ringing around to find some one to take the six of us, finally the NCH in Harpenden came to the rescue, and OGBs Sister Winifred agreed,  put her hand up for the job knowing it meant twelve in the one flat as opposed to the normal eleven kids. This Malsal made mention about Pop Roycroft being his Gardian Angel, well that is how I came to think of Sister Winifred.

We finally ended up at Harpenden Station  and were picked up by Mr. Shutt in his Vauxhall Wyven car.  Getting to the home and seeing the green massive oval blew me away as everything was clean and green, also very friendly, after being introduced to Sister Winifred we were showed into our lovely clean beds and PJ,s just fantastic. 

The life in Highfield after we got used to the locals, who spoke a different language to us, became fantastic, the boys like Bert B,  Bruno, Granville P, Michael I, plus too many to mention who became family, and still feel proud that I was bought up in the NCH Harpenden which I would not change for the world.   Could keep going on with this forever but you guys know what it is about.  A couple of things I would like to know is....  June Jones does anyone know her whereabouts and who ever was in the same class as me at School.   The one person I have been after for the last 50 years is Horace Barrett, would love to get in touch with him. 

Cheers every one, keep on the good work.... Ken Grimes  (Grimble)         

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royl

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#51 [url]

Sep 10 11 3:30 PM

Hello Ken,
                      Now I have a vague memory of that surname but I could not put a face to any one it belonged to.   As you will have read, I was in Clifton at the time you arrived and I knew Sister Winifred as one of my friends Roy Ba. with the twin sisters over the other side, who was in OGB at the time.  June was one of the original girls in Clifton. There are photos of her way up the front of this site, I also read something somewhere that suggested she went to Wakefield so you might get a steer from them when they wake from their  winter sleep. tic 
                  Due to a freindship with Granville's oldest brother I have traced him and sadly found that he had died some few years back as had all of the P. family siblings.


Roy

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#52 [url]

Sep 11 11 1:22 AM

HI Ken!
And welcome on board!  I'm trying to remember what you look like, since you said you were at the Harpenden reunion last year.  Or do you have any pictures to post of your time at Harpenden?  Your name sounds very familiar, but that could be because others have talked about you.  All good stuff of course!
You mention Horace Barrett in your post.  I remember him very well because he was in our family with Sister Cora.  He seemed like a nice lad, but our cross-over time was short because he joined us not long before I left. I have a picture of him I'll try posting sometime.  Can't do it now since it will need to be scanned, reduced, prayed over, who knows?!  But it will come.  I wish I could tell you more about what happened to him, but I have no idea.
Look forward to hearing more from you, and any pics you can share from those times!
All the best,
Shelagh

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clive

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#53 [url]

Sep 19 11 11:04 PM

Dear Bob,


As promised, I enclose an article on the NCH Harpenden trip to Iceland


Best wishes,


Clive


GLORIOUS RIOT OF SNOW AND FUN IN ICELAND

NCH Family News Spring 1972


A ROMP in the snow which would never have been possible if the weather forecasters’ gloomy predictions had been correct.


Only a few hours earlier these lucky children from Harpenden branch were standing in the unusually mild December weather at Heathrow Airport, waiting in anticipation for the trip of a life-time to Iceland.


They chased Santa Claus across the snow, tried their hands at tobogganing, fought snow battles and generally spent more time sitting down than standing up.


In fact the children became so excited playing in the snow that two of them lost a shoe.  Luckily, the following day’s activities called for gumboots, and Alpine Everest, the company which paid for the trip, treated them to a new pair of shoes each when they were back at the branch.


The grown-ups were not left entirely unaffected by the seasonal spirit.  More than one housefather was seen joining in the fun, and most of the 15 Fleet Street newspaper photographers who accompanied the children on the trip, could not resist the temptation to toboggan down the mountain quietly while the children were having tea.


A surprise meeting with the President of Iceland, Mr Kristjan Eldjarn, was the highlight of the trip for Mr J C Burn, Harpenden’s superintendent.


Mr Burn, a member of Harpenden Rotary Club, met the President at the Reykjavik Rotary Club’s traditional Christmas meeting at the down-town Tjarnarbud Restaurant.


Mr Burn exchanged Rotary pennants with Mr Hoskuldur Olafsson, secretary of the Reykjavik Club.

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clive

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#54 [url]

Sep 20 11 7:55 AM

Dear Bob,


I am pleased to enclose another article on the NCH Harpenden trip to Iceland


Best wishes,


Clive


DREAM HOLIDAY FOR 80

Children whisked to Iceland on ‘Snowflake’ jet

NCH Family News Spring 1972


WARM weather nearly ruined a magical white Christmas treat to see the ‘real’ Santa Claus for more than 80 children from Harpenden branch.


The children, all aged between 7 and 11, were whisked away to Iceland by Alpine Everest, the double-glazing and home freezer group of companies, which chartered its own ‘Snowflake Special’ Boeing 727 jet to give the children the most memorable Christmas present of their lives.


But, as excitement mounted among the children at Harpenden, rain was washing away Father Christmas’s carpet of snow.  And when the long-range weather forecast predicted that rain had set in for the entire holiday prospects looked bleak.


However the organisers’ fears were needless.  As the children scampered aboard the plane at Heathrow, snow was falling in    Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, and by the time they landed at Keflavik airport it was almost six inches deep.


The young directors of Alpine-Everest became ‘Alpine Uncles’ on the 2,500 mile trip, which began early on the Tuesday before Christmas and ended in the early hours of Thursday morning.


Passports waived


Iceland’s Ambassador in London, Mr Niels Sigurdsson, helped make the trip possible by arranging to waive passport requirements for the children.


The highlight of the excursion was when Father Christmas appeared from behind a large rock as the children arrived at the city’s ski lodge for a party given by the Mayor of Reykjavik, Mr Geir Hallgrinsson.  After the delicious traditional tea of hot chocolate and pancakes filled with cream, Father Christmas talked to the children, telling them about his mother and 12 brothers and then gave a present to each child from the bulging sack.


For many of the children, the prospect of staying in a hotel was just as exciting as seeing Santa.


‘I’ve never stayed in a hotel before’ said one little girl.  ‘What’s it like?  Come to think of it, I’ve never been on holiday before.’


All floors of the luxury Hotel Saga in Reykjavik were booked to accommodate the Harpenden children and their party.  On Tuesday evening the adults were entertained at a reception where guests included the British Ambassador , the British Consul, the Mayor of  Reykjavik, the Director of the National Theatre, the news editors of Iceland Television and radio, editors of five national Icelandic newspapers and, in ‘civvies’, Santa Claus – alias Omar Ragnarsson, a sports writer and children’s entertainer with Icelandic Television.


Awake Early


Most of the children were awake very early on Wednesday morning – one or two at 5.30.  After breakfast, the party was taken by coach to the open-air swimming pool which is heated by the local hot springs.  All of the country’s heating comes from the channelled springs and it was certainly a new experience for the children (and many brave adults!) to swim in the open air with the temperature at minus two degrees Centigrade.


After a sightseeing tour followed by lunch, the children were entertained at the National Theatre to ‘Nyjarsnottin’ – a playlet about ‘New Year’s Night’.    


The people of Iceland took the Harpenden children to their hearts.  Everywhere they went passers-by stopped to ask them how they were enjoying their holiday.  In fact, one Icelandic businessman arrived at the airport on Wednesday evening with presents for each child from himself and friends.


Hour’s delay


The homeward flight of the ‘Snowflake Special’ was delayed for just over an hour because of thick snow and a raging blizzard.


It was not until nearly midnight that the children climbed on to the coaches for the journey back from Heathrow to Harpenden and most of them fell asleep immediately – completely exhausted after two days of non-stop excitement.  


Photographers from most of the Fleet Street newspapers and one or two local newspapers went on the trip with the children.


Competition


The ‘Harpenden Free Press’ organised a competition for the children, giving prizes of £2, £1 and 50p for the three best written accounts of the trip.


Carole Adams (11) who won the first prize wrote: Iceland is a very different place from England.  For instance, when we go swimming in England you just get changed and go into the pool, but in Iceland you have a shower with soap, then put on your swimming costume and walk across the snow in your bare feet to the swimming pool.  This is to make sure that no one spreads germs to anyone else.’


Strange secret


Second prize-winner Paul Duncan (11) tells how he first heard about the trip.  ‘One night as I lay quiet in my bed Sister came in and whispered a rather strange secret.  She said that I was going to Iceland to see Father Christmas.  Well, that was all I needed to stop me from going to sleep.  I was more excited than you could possibly imagine.  On the disappointing side it was such a long wait until the day came.  Waiting all this time soon put me off the idea of going on an aeroplane, but somehow on the way I seemed to be all right.’


‘At the zoo there were lots of animals’, wrote Vivienne Webb, who won third prize.  ‘Different birds, seals, penguins, polar bears, arctic foxes and an aquarium.  While looking round we played snowballs.’


For the 66 children left behind at the branch, the two days were not dull.  Pantomime trips and a swimming party in St Albans were laid on and the children were invited to other Christmas parties.


Alpine-Everest did not forget the children who were left behind either.  They sent Mr Burn a cheque for £50 as a special gift for the benefit of the children who did not go to Iceland.


Coincidental


Neither does the story end there.  The day after returning home, Harpenden choir made their annual visit to the Royal Lancaster Hotel to sing carols.


By sheer coincidence, Alpine-Everest were holding their Christmas lunch on the same day in the hotel.


The directors of the firm knew most of the children, of course, and decided to keep the party going for a few hours longer so they could hear the children singing.  They therefore hired the rooms for longer than they had booked, and as a result the hotel sent Harpenden a cheque for £20 for the children.


As a personal thank-you, the hotel’s general manager served the children with turkey sandwiches and lemonade himself from a silver trolley.    


  H:\Bryn Awel\Docs\NCH\Harpenden visit to Iceland 19911 CGW.doc





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dave

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#55 [url]

Sep 20 11 12:17 PM

Thanks for this info Clive. You have helped me too as my sister Sally went on the Iceland trip and I was trying to find the date to help Bob.

I was out of the age group by then so didn't go. I was not sure about the figures referring to the 66 children who didn't go. I guess this meant 66 of the age group 7 to 11. I also don't recall doing anything different while the others were away but that maybe due to the little grey cells not working or us older teenagers just didn't get a look in. I do remember it being a bit more peaceful in the flat though.

Thanks again Clive I am sure Bob will be pleased.

Dave

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philip

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#56 [url]

Sep 20 11 2:06 PM

Dave,
Oh does that mean that Malc didn't go as well? I would have thought that Highfield would have had around 200 children at that time.

But you possibly went to a more teenage party somewhere, (a normal party without the little brats).

It would have been interesting if British Customs had not allowed the group back into this country as they did not have passports, they could have easily been described as undesirable aliens and sent back to Iceland.

Philip

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clive

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#58 [url]

Sep 20 11 5:11 PM

Dear Dave,

It's a pleasure and I trust this information will help Bob and others at NCH Harpenden to fill in some of the missing pieces of their personal jigsaws.  I trust your little grey cells will soon be revitalised.

Best wishes,

Clive

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royl

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#59 [url]

Sep 21 11 1:31 AM

Dave,
               The last trip/ treat that I can remember was a 'make your own way'  thrill a minute, visit to a hat factory in Luton. The place was smaller than our printers but the two ladies put on a super show in the way of food.   If I remember rightly they were only making Straw Boaters at that time; whether or not they made anything else at other times I just dont recall.

Roy

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#60 [url]

Sep 21 11 3:34 PM

Hi Dave, Roy, and all,
About special trips from Harpenden, I remember very well a trip that we girls took to a performance at Covent Garden, of Swan Lake!  It was a particularly exciting event for me because I used to collect pictures of ballerinas and paste them into a scrapbook, and dream about being a great ballerina one day!  A secret dream I didn't dare share with anyone back then!  So when the announcement came that a coach was going to take us up to London to see this ballet, I was beside myself with excitement--except for one thing--I was very sick with a terrible headcold at the time.  Sister Cora, knowing my passion for ballet, was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to stay in bed for the day, or go to the ballet ?  Stay in bed!!  Not on your flipping life!  I was ready to die, but definitely not ready to miss an opportunity like this!  So off we went.  I'm assuming there were girls from other houses as well, though I don't clearly remember that.  I probably slept on the coach.  Then there we were, sitting way back, up in the Gods, me with a supply of hankies that were getting very full of...well you can imagine...and the music wafted into the hall, and the curtains parted, and I might as well have gone to heaven because it certainly felt like it. And I didn't even know at the time that I was watching none other than Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev!  But it was pure magic!  I'm so thankful to the NCH for giving us glimpses of what was going on in the outside world, like this.  And I'm particularly thankful that Sister Cora allowed me the chance to choose to go or not, and didn't simply consign me to stay in bed.  (I hope I didn't infect anyone with my germs up there in that theater), but if anyone could have picked up on the thrill of a child's heart, it would have been mine that day!
Shelagh


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