Friends reunited at gathering of Norwich schools

Derek James reports on the annual reunion of the Gurney girls and the Henderson boys.

The show goes on . . . Former members of two Norwich schools, long gone but not forgotten, are making sure of that.

It had been feared that the latest reunion for the Gurney girls and the Henderson boys could be the last one.

Organisers Pat Breeze and Margaret Paternoster, who had been arranging the annual get-togethers for some time, had been thinking of calling it a day.

'Although we love the reunions they do take quite a bit of organising and neither of us are getting any younger,' said Pat.

The reunions were started more than a dozen years ago by Margaret and Vi Panetta, first for the Gurney girls and then the Henderson boys were invited along.

Over the years so many friends from those two schools back in the 1950s and 60s have been reunited at the annual gatherings.

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'It has been lovely to see so many people meeting up again for the first time in so many years,' said Pat.

And in recent times more and more of those Henderson boys have been turning up.

So when Pat announced on this page she was thinking of packing it in, offers of help came pouring in.

'As soon as we turned up for the reunion people were saying they must carry on. No one wants them to finish. They are such good fun,' said Pat.

'If people are prepared to help us and share the workload then the reunions will carry on. We do, after all, have a great time,' added the former Pat Turner.

And that's not all.

The money raised at these parties goes to charity and they have given thousands of pounds away over the years.

'I have just sent a cheque for �533 to the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Money collected after the last reunion,' she added.

Around 140 people turned up for the latest one in January and several people volunteered to help keep the reunions going.

'We also had people we hadn't seen before which was good,' added Pat.

'One former Henderson boy had been at the school in 1944. He turned up from his home at Croydon and said what a marvellous time he had had,' she said. 'And it was also good to see some of the younger pupils from the 1960s.'

Once people realised the annual reunion could be coming to an end enough volunteers came forward to help make the arrangements for the next one.

'It's already been booked,' said Pat. 'We are all meeting up again, back at the Chapel Break Community Centre, Bowthorpe, on Saturday, January 21 at 7pm,' she said. So don't be late!