Debenham: Old Sir Robert Hitcham School friends reunited for first time in years
DOZENS of former pupils at a village primary school have gathered together, many for the first time in decades, to share memories of their early years.
More than 160 people, all aged 70 or above, attended the event at Debenham Community Centre, which was organised for former Sir Robert Hitcham School students.
The gathering was arranged by Peter Carter, 79, who left the school 65 years ago at the age of 14 to become a carpenter.
He still lives in the village and was joined by other Debenham residents and people from as far a field as the USA at the reunion on Saturday afternoon.
A slide show of wedding photographs was shown during the party and 1940s songs were played to liven things up.
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Mr Carter said: “We had two people come over from America and other places as well and they were all over 70. Many people hadn’t seen each other for decades.
“I left school at 14 and went straight into work, like most people then. I went into an apprenticeship in carpentry and then went into the army, serving in Malaya.
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“I returned to the village and have lived there ever since.”
The oldest attendee at the reunion was 97-year-old Peggy Tall and Mr Carter said that people mostly just wanted to talk and find out about each other’s lives.
He said: “People were so busy talking and we had all the wedding photos come up on the screen. People recognised some of the couples.
“I hadn’t seen several of them for 64 years. We all talked about how our lives had progressed and what trades we had and where we had been.
“We tried starting off a sing-song but they weren’t really interested.”
The idea for the event came to Mr Carter, who has an archive of village photographs, last year and he had spent much of the past few months organising the reunion and making plenty of phone calls.
Mr Carter said that although he was pleased at the success of the afternoon and the high turnout, it wasn’t something he planned to repeat.
He added: “I was so pleased to see so many people but it’s too much work to do again.”
The event was supported by Sir Robert Hitcham Primary School and Debenham High School with pupils helping to take coats and direct guests at the community centre.