In my probably imperfect memories, I believe I was one of the last pupils to leave the school grounds.

I had to wait until the headmaster had thanked all the parents and seen most of the other pupils off. I remember the heart-wrenching emotion, watching everyone leave, the tidal wave of tears as we said what we knew were our final goodbyes, especially from Fred, the headmaster!

The ethos of the school was very liberal and informal. There was no school uniform. I remember arriving in a formal suit and tie on my first day to be met by a long haired blond Canadian called Pete in his ever present, matching, bleached jeans and jean jacket. The first thing he said to me (looking at my suit) was: "Better get rid of those dudes, man!"

The atmosphere was so laid back it was almost horizontal. The senior pupils had their own self-painted and decorated wooden cubicles to study in, but spent much of their free time in the basement senior common room, endlessly listening to the classic hits of the era by Bread (I Would Give Everything I Own, Diary, Baby I'm A Want You), The Doors (Riders On The Storm), Neil Young (Heart of Gold), The Steve Miller Band (The Joker), John Martyn (May You Never) and John Lennon (Imagine) etc.

Roger Gerhardt was a wonderfully warm and enthusiastic French teacher, totally committed to the school. Frank Burgess a gentle, dedicated woodwork teacher with a home somewhere on the school grounds and a kind, pretty blonde daughter who was a pupil and whose name I've sadly forgotten (Rachel?). Louis Jones was a friendly and patient graphic art and pottery teacher who skilfully introduced the charms of art even to novices who had never given it a second thought. John Deadman was a serious but engaging maths and science teacher whose wife (Sue?) was a young, empathetic English teacher. They also lived on the school grounds (in the matron's quarters?). Chris de Sarum was a companionable and entertaining ecologist and Geography teacher who enlivened his subject. Bettina was a kind and gentle History(?) teacher (and Deputy Head?). Fred Sessa was an energetic and charismatic Head Master and a superb and highly competitive basketball player who was always willing to play, effortlessly running rings around and soaring over the heads of pupils almost twice his height and less than a third of his age. Sadly, I don’t remember Fred’s wife’s name but I do remember her to have been a very kind and empathetic person.

I will always remember the long sweeping drive, the imposing building, the courtyard and grounds and the beautiful and enchanting woodland beyond the swimming pool. I remember the tree house built by ex-pupils and often visited by an ex-pupil nicknamed ‘Moggy’ who was so attached to the school that, even after he left, he used to return regularly, sleeping in the tree house and surviving the weekend on malt loaves and Irn Bru. I remember Benny who lived locally and always wore a WW1 greatcoat and sometimes came to school with his pet whippet.

I was only there for a short time but will always look back with fond affection on my year at Wennington. It is a shame the school didn't survive, but there were so few pupils left that, despite the donations and other efforts of many of the parents, mine included, the situation was clearly unsustainable.

It is difficult to list my contemporaries' names, because the informality meant that we almost never used our surnames. I remember many of their first names but few of their surnames. Among those I remember are: Helen, Lyn, Hank, Paul, Paul, Sam, Rod, Tom, Nigel, Simon, Sukhbir, 'Hat', 'Blue', Maddie, Gwen, Ursula, Michelle, Karen, Simon, Pete, Benny, Claire, Zoë, Heather, Christine, Christine, Mick and ‘Moggy’. Many more are on the tip of my tongue.

 

 

Additional information