|'Absolutely sensational'...., 'really amazing'......, 'tremendous fun'...... These are just some of the reactions to the Class of '63's event of the year- their joint 50th Birthday bash, at The Quality Hotel, on the outskirts of Norwich on the 2nd March.
Excitement mounted from the moment we arrived in the early afternoon, as we tried to spot familiar faces among the hotel guests. Then as 4 o'clock approached, we converged towards the bar and, donning name badges, we were relieved of any embarrassment in putting names to faces of 'boys' and 'girls'. In the meantime, the organisers, Joy and Ruth were milling around, putting the finishing touches to the final arrangements, even down to the balloons in TGS colours! The afternoon arrivals streamed in and the hours flew by as we tried to catch up with over 30 years' news, leaving barely enough time, for those who stayed on, for a quick change before dinner.
During the afternoon and evening, some 60 ex TGS pupils (split perfectly 50/50 'boys'/ 'girls'), together with 20 or so partners, made this such a memorable occasion, coming from as near as Skye, Greece, Canada and even Russia (thanks to a late flight!) and as far away as just down the road!
A notice board, which Joy and Ruth had set up in the middle of the room, proved to be very much a focal point, as we pored over greetings and messages from those who couldn't be there, from points far and wide, including Australia and, a bit closer to home, France. Photos, old and new, were very much a source of intrigue, as well as other memorabilia. One particular 'draw' was a photo of pupils taken in 1965, and, thanks to a combined effort, names were eventually ascribed to many of the faces (although help would still be welcomed with some of the 'gaps'!).
So many of us were just delighted to recognise, virtually instantly, so many unchanged faces, which was quite remarkable, considering we were a year group of around 120!
Over dinner, we continued to catch up on the 'missing years', recounting anecdotes and events, and proudly exchanging photos of now grown families. A few secret admirers were even understood to have made tentative confessions of undeclared passions from over 30 years ago! A number of us, living more locally, found new neighbours as we discovered that old 'boys' or 'girls', or their families, were only living just around the corner.
We gave an enthusiastic vote of thanks and a toast to our wonderful organisers, and then, there was a group photo call and a lot of hilarity as we squatted on the floor, only for us to be reminded, as we got up, that we were not quite so supple as we were.... Then, the disco started, thanks to our DJ, Christopher Neave, who was also, coincidentally, an old TGS boy from the year above and we were soon boogying away in to the wee hours to Golden Oldies from the '60s and '70s , ranging from The Beatles to Deep Purple, (and do you remember the Industrial Club, on Oak Street, Norwich's first disco?).
All in all, catching up with so many on so much was pretty daunting, but what impressed so many of us was that everyone's news was every bit interesting and fascinating, whether tales of postings to far flung corners or accounts of experiences much closer to home. Perhaps not so surprising was the discovery that a large number of us have remained in Norfolk or close by, or have recently returned after years away, testimony to the fact that Norfolk is such a special place.
Our warmest thanks go to the organisers of the event-to Joy Round (Price), Ruth Cooksey (Rowland) and to Hugh Jones- for working so hard to bring us all together for such an immensely enjoyable and memorable time. Also, to Christopher Neave for helping us to re-live our youth for a few hours!
Our best wishes, especially, to those unable to be there, and to all of the Year of '63 for a very happy 50th!
Helena Muskett (Doe)