Melton school friends reunited 50 years on

A dozen former pupils of the old King Edward VII Upper School gathered at its crumbling remains this week for the first time in half-a-century to enjoy a poignant reunion.

Friday, 2nd August 2019, 10:51 am
Former students from King Edward VII Upper School reunite 50 years later outside the entrance to the former school EMN-190731-120534001
Former students from King Edward VII Upper School reunite 50 years later outside the entrance to the former school EMN-190731-120534001

They were last together for a stage production at the Melton school in 1968, and many have gone on to stellar careers working in business, medicine, the legal profession and top level sport.

As the old friends greeted each other at the entrance to the old school, which closed in 2011, they were saddened to see most of the site now demolished to make way for a new housing development.

Robert Treharne Jones, who is now 68, told the Melton Times at Tuesday’s reunion: “Having seen the school today it is clearly in a sorry state, but we have our memories of schooldays here and nothing can erase them.”

Friends reunited from their schooldays at Melton's King Edward VII Upper School 50 years on, from left, Robert Treharne Jones, Mockie Harrison, Chris Harris, Lee Kirk and Brian Gunn EMN-190731-120523001

Robert went on to a career in medicine and is now a venue commentator on top level rowing meetings including the Olympic Games - one of his best memories was calling the finishes to races at the 2012 London games.

He was responsible for bringing them all together again, adding: “I’m a professional genealogist so I had the interesting job of trying to track everyone down.

“There is still half of the cast who I couldn’t find. I know one person is in Thailand and another is in Australia but I couldn’t trace the others unfortunately.”

They chatted about their various roles in school theatre productions during the late 1960s, including that last one - The Lark, which is based on the story of Joan of Arc.

Mockie Harrison, who played Joan, rose to become head of the home design team at John Lewis after leaving.

She recalled: “We used real fire for the scene when Joan was burned at the stake. Someone actually set fire to my hair by mistake and he went on to become my husband.”

A love of drama at the school led on to bigger things on the stage, particularly for Jenny Whitby, who joined Michael Bogdanov’s theatre company, based at Leicester’s Phoenix and Haymarket Theatres, before pursuing a teaching career.

Looking around the school site she said: “There were a lot more trees back in our day. But I am very pleased to see the line of cedars is still here because that was a great memory from back then.”

Some of the 1968 cast members went abroad, like Chris Harris, who emigrated to the United States to become head of design and production in the award-winning theatre department at Willamette University in Oregon.

Two former students at the reunion who still live in Melton were Brian Haines and Wayne Jones.

Brian Gunn trained as a lawyer in the town with Oldham and Marsh and went on to be awarded an OBE after rising to become deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS East Midlands.

Also present on Tuesday were Lee Kirk, Dave Collins, Tania Lambley and Lyn Eyre, who became a professor of work psychology and, in retirement, produced a BAFTA-accredited short film called ‘Closets’ which premiered at The Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

The old friends went on later to enjoy a dinner at Scalford Country House Hotel and afterwards they performed a dramatised reading of The Lark, in the roles they played before. Five have kept their original scripts from the play.