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News > Events > OWBA > Class of '69 Reunion

Class of '69 Reunion

10 Apr 2019
When Duncan Oldreive and Robert Cattell were sharing a pint at the Plymouth Dinner last November  they both thought that it might be a good idea to get as many of our year, namely those who left in 1969 , to return or at least meet at some time in 2019 to mark the  50 years since leaving WBS . Duncan took to organising and with much assistance from Monica Carter-Burns was able to get almost half of the year group back to the School on Exmoor Day April 4th .
We arrived the day before and enjoyed a very pleasant reception, in what in our time at the School was the office of the Headmaster ,Mr Leslie Stephens . This was not a room where we would have enjoyed going into 50 plus years ago as to be summoned in there meant only one thing `Six of the Best` or if you were lucky maybe Four Strokes dependant on the severity of your crime. This time however it was adorned with photos to allow us to reminisce. A surprise for us all was a copy of our parents application for us to join the school and a leaving summary from the then Headmaster, none of which we had seen before. Maybe a good read for some but for others!!!!.
Lunch followed in the Karslake Hall. A bit different, choice of food and seating, no longer the long benches, no choice of food and the quantity defined by your pecking order seating place.  After followed a conducted tour around the Newer Buildings and finally  re-living the Ghosts of the old parts of the School that had held so many memories for us all. Too many to note here !!!
That evening we re-lived yet more memories this time of our underage drinking by returning to the  Rolle Quay Pub in Barnstaple. What a shock it stopped serving at 7pm!!. Still Geoff used his skills to get us an extra round in. Back then for an Evening Dinner at the Fortescue Hotel where Tony Hooper had managed to get us all a good deal. Joining us were John and Angela Avens.  We were delighted that  they were able to come as John Avens entered the School as the same time as most of us in September 1962   when he became the  new Biology Teacher and  as many readers will recall went on to be Housemaster of Grenville. Many recollections including the smoking dens, the mass breakouts, the overnight pranks, the masters ( brilliant but eccentric maybe the best allowable description in today’s world). One particular memory with the Aven’s was the rearing of turkeys in the plantation and then the killing and plucking for Xmas taking home. Wouldn’t even dream of it in today’s health and safety conscious world.  After more bottles of wine than perhaps was good for us we retired to bed .
The following morning back to the school for Exmoor Day , this time  no need to go up to the Sick Bay to see Matron  to try and   fake some strange illness to get off from doing the run . This time we got the Bus out to the Poltimore Inn on Exmoor,  well most of us did as Geoff Tincler and Duncan Oldreive decided to walk  the 8 or so miles to the start with the senior school runners into the teeth of an Exmoor Wind with snow falling on the higher ground. The Poltimor hardly changed in 50 years, or so we are told as we never got inside back then.
Then back on our bus to Heasley Mill were we saw the leading runners go through before the cold got the better of us and we were soon back at the School to see the leading runners coming across the Plantation and cross the finishing line .
The Old Boys who managed to  to attend were Clive Argent, Robert Cattell, Nick Dawe, Tony Hooper, Chris Mills,  David and Duncan Oldreive, Peter Morris, Paul Pigdon, Piers Rogers, Geoff Tincler and Tom Winter. We all shared our memories of Boy`s {some sadly no longer with us },  Masters and Times  at WBS. It was surprising what some of us had forgotten in that 50 year gap and between us pieces of the forgotten jigsaw came flooding back to us. It was true nostalgia. But despite our perceived privations which were much due to the less enlightened era and the poorer economic circumstances of the school throughout the 1960`s  we all shared this experience of being incarcerated at West Buckland  which gave us a camaraderie  that will never leave us as it was at  such an informative time of our lives.  
The one thing that we all said is what a truly  wonderful  and happy place it is now, the freedoms of the pupils, the quality of the teaching, the new and impressive buildings. It is an almost unbelievable transformation, needless to say for the better.

Robert Catell & Duncan Oldreive

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