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Range High School first intake of pupils in 1975 held a school reunion with old pupils travelling fr

The beginning of October saw the first full reunion in 21 years for the very first intake at Range High School - 163 children; the “class of 75” first walked through the school gates aged 11 as the only pupils in the school in September 1975. Now they are all 53 or 54 years old. Some have had their own children attend the school and two even work there now. Many have moved all over the UK and the world. At the reunion, around 100 including many of their teachers returned to the school travelling from as far afield as Australia and the USA.

A handful of friends had started a Facebook Group exactly 12 months earlier. Little did they realise the behemoth they had unleashed. A small group of six “admins” took up the challenge of not just organising the reunion but finding the pupils from that class. As one of the admins said: “We have, over the last 12 months become one of the foremost tracing agencies anywhere searching through Facebook, LinkedIn, school records, births, marriages and death registers, electoral rolls and Companies House records as well as writing dozens of emails and letters to potential matches.” Their efforts paid off.

The day was one of reflection, sadness and also great joy - after a fundraiser in the spring the group had bought and planted a tree by the school gates. On Saturday afternoon the former pupils and staff, led by former Deputy Head Lionel Rossington unveiled a plaque and lit a candle dedicating the tree to the memories of all former pupils and staff of the school who have left us too soon. The ceremony was attended by many friends and relatives of pupils who are known to have passed away since leaving the school, particularly those from the Class of 75. Balloons were released in their memory.

After a lot of chat and rekindling of friendships laid dormant for over 35 years the former pupils and staff toured the school reviving memories of the great times had at Range High. In the evening there was a disco and buffet at the Gild Hall with more pupils who couldn’t make the afternoon joining the throng.

The organisers, Lynda Hatton, Dene Comish, Andy Oddy, Alan Ford, Linda Green, Ian Blackwell and Alan Willacy have been overwhelmed by the messages of support and gratitude received from their peers and the Facebook site has been buzzing with activity since as photos of the night and others are dug out of storage and scanned and posted. There are still pupils to be found and the search will continue - more events will be held but this time they won’t be leaving it for another 21 years!

As Andy Oddy, master of ceremonies for the day said on behalf of the organisers: “It was an emotional day - the sadness of the memorial and the joy at all the smiling faces as old friends did thirty years of catch up. All we can say now is a big thank you to the school for hosting us and a bigger thank you to our school mates and the relatives and friends of those no longer with us for turning up. It was an honour and a privilege - but waiting until we are 75 to do it again? No chance!”

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