Famous former students send in videos as reunion celebrates 70 years of Stevenage's Barclay School

PUBLISHED: 08:28 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:09 12 December 2019

Former Barclay teachers Merv Smith, Gill Harwood, Ann Beaumont and Richard Wallace. Picture: Mandy Probert

Former Barclay teachers Merv Smith, Gill Harwood, Ann Beaumont and Richard Wallace. Picture: Mandy Probert

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More than 300 former pupils and staff of a secondary school have attended a reunion to mark its 70th anniversary.

Pam Sayers (née Toll) and Mavis Bourdice (née Bullard) were among the first intake of pupils at Barclay in 1949. Picture: Mandy ProbertPam Sayers (née Toll) and Mavis Bourdice (née Bullard) were among the first intake of pupils at Barclay in 1949. Picture: Mandy Probert

Stevenage's Barclay School - now an academy - first opened its doors in 1949 and much has changed over the seven decades since, but the ethos of the school is as strong as ever and past pupils' fondness of Barclay hasn't waned.

Ex pupils from as far away as Australia and China tuned into a live stream of the reunion at the Walkern Road school in the Old Town, and even actor and musician Ed Westwick and professional golfer Ian Poulter - both former Barclay students - sent in videos for the occasion.

Richard Wallace, who taught at Barclay for 39 years before his retirement in 2010, said it was "a wonderful day full of love, kindnesses and thanks".

He said: "Thank you for your memories of Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare, Of Mice and Men, Death in the Stock Cupboard, apostrophes and football. I will be forever grateful to Mandy Probert and Angela Davidson for making it happen, providing me with one of the most memorable days of my life."

More than 300 people turned out to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Stevenage's Barclay School, which is now an academy. Picture: Mandy ProbertMore than 300 people turned out to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Stevenage's Barclay School, which is now an academy. Picture: Mandy Probert

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Richard made a speech at the event, referring to former members of staff who particularly helped shape the school - with special mention to Don Monk.

Don - who died in February this year, aged 91 - was Barclay's deputy headteacher for 40 years, retiring in 1992.

Richard said: "He was a real pioneer. He said the 80 per cent of children rejected by the 11+ were not failures. He wanted to give academic, cultural and sporting opportunities to children at a secondary modern school that were readily available at a grammar school."

Former Barclay teachers Merv Smith, Gill Harwood, Ann Beaumont and Richard Wallace. Picture: Mandy ProbertFormer Barclay teachers Merv Smith, Gill Harwood, Ann Beaumont and Richard Wallace. Picture: Mandy Probert

The reunion's co-organiser Angela said: "I'd like to say a huge thank you to all who attended. It was so warming to see two of the first Barclay pupils - Mavis and Pam.

"All the speakers did an amazing job of recounting both emotional and amusing stories. I am completely overwhelmed. Everyone seemed to enjoy an afternoon down memory lane and appreciate the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make it happen.

"It's been a pleasure working with Mandy over the last few months. A few times we felt like giving up, but we both decided to carry on as 'what we undertake we do'."

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