OGU Ladies who Lunch

OGU Ladies who Lunch

The stylish restaurant at the beautiful Oakwood Hall Hotel in Bingley, was the setting for an election day lunch for a group of OGU members who have been meeting every year since they left the school in 1947.

Josie Smith (née Walker) was happy to talk about this year’s reunion and share some of her memories of her time at Bradford Girls’ Grammar School:

We had a lovely lunch at Oakwood Hall and enjoyed what we chose (salmon main course for three of us, beef in ale for the other two) though the two who had the beef did think it was rather over-seasoned. We had no room for pudding, and went straight on to coffee and chocolates in comfortable chairs in the bar lounge.

We talked non-stop for four hours as there was a lot to talk about. The conversation ranged over politics (it being Election Day), wildlife, ecology, Bridge, and computers, with some drama and travel and a tiny bit of reminiscence thrown in.

We remembered Christine Verber (née Hindle) and Rachel Wyatt (née Arnold) across the Atlantic, of course, and Margaret Holdsworth (née Jackson), who was not well enough to join us. The reminiscence, incidentally, was because I brought with me a piece of research done by a younger Old Girl who has listed all the members of staff from our time and hers, with their subsequent careers.  There were some surprises! Otherwise we still tend to look forward, not backward.

Most of us started at BGGS in 1940 in U3H (that was the A stream), though Elsie Hobley (née Hancock) had come up through Lady Royd and Margaret Holdsworth (née Jackson) moved sideways from one of the other two streams which made up the annual intake in those days. We have met annually ever since we left school, around this time of year.
Rachel Wyatt (née Arnold) was Head Girl about 1947, has lived in Canada most of her life since then, and is a renowned writer.   Christine Verber (née Hindle), who like Rachel trained as a nurse, emigrated at about the same time and has lived in New York ever since, doing great things for nursing and particularly midwifery.  Kathleen Fort (née Moll) joined the family business, very successfully, and Margaret became a maths teacher and lecturer.
Pat Walker (née Stringer) went into teaching, as did Elsie, specialising in domestic science and P.E. respectively and both having a wide range of interests.   Jacquie Briggs (née Sharp) became a teacher and headmistress, treads the boards in amateur dramatics (last seen in Calendar Girls!) and got a first class honours degree in German at the age of 70. Hilary Kennedy (née Tindall) sadly died some years ago having suffered from MS for much of her life, and Margery (Tattersall) died even younger in tragic circumstances.
This was a group of friends who used to go Youth Hostelling together, and several also have uncomfortable but hilarious memories of Harvest Camps.  Oh yes, that leaves me – I knew there were ten of us – Josephine Smith (née Walker) – I trained as a teacher and later took an OU degree as a mature student and have been a writer and broadcaster at various times. 
Between us we have brought up twenty-seven children and now have innumerable grandchildren and in some cases great-grandchildren. We are individually in touch with other Old Girls – and we still recognise the effect the school had on us, particularly the diminutive Miss Hutchinson (‘Little Hutch’, the R.E. teacher being ‘Big Hutch’) who taught English most memorably.

None of us to this day would willingly misplace an apostrophe nor split an infinitive!

Kath pointed out that we have been meeting for this event every year since 1947.   In the early days we entertained each other in turn in our homes, but a few years ago we decided to let someone else do the cooking and washing up.

We intend to meet again next year, and have already settled the date, though all our diaries tend to get full and it is possible that we shall need to change it if someone gets an offer she can’t refuse – a Spring cruise or something.

Memories of 1947

Old Girls on the photograph:
Standing, left to right:  Josie Smith (née Walker), and Pat Walker (née Stringer)

Seated, L-R:  Elsie Hobley (née Hancock), Kath Fort (née Moll), Jacquie Briggs (née Sharp).