logoPC Memories By Gillian Hutchinson (nee McDonagh) - Class of 1967


I attended Portadown College Junior School, as it was known then and, as we lived not far from the school, I walked there and back, at first with my older brother, then, in later years, with 2 of my younger sisters. My youngest sister and younger brother started school after I had moved up to the senior school. Every year, on our first day back to school our father would line us all up at the front gate of our house and take a photograph of us, all decked out in our school uniforms. He was a keen photographer and I can remember one day when he came in to each of our classrooms – 3 at that time – and persuaded the teacher to take the class outside so that he could take a picture of us.

Miss Waters was the Kindergarten teacher. A no-nonsense person with a kind heart, she was, in fact, our teacher for the first 2 years, the 2nd year in those days being Upper Transition, as far as I can remember. In later years those years were just known as Lower and Upper Kindergarten and were followed by Forms 1 to 5. There wasn’t a lot to be said on my report for the first term of that year as I was off school for most of it with all the childhood illnesses of the day. Mr Woodman’s comment at the end of the report: ‘Better health in ’54!’ Memories of Kindergarten are probably much the same as at any school at that age – lots of play and a little bit of work: painting, play house, jingles, a for apple, b for ball, etc. illustrated on the blackboard, reading, counting, sums, spelling. One memory that stands out is when I was stung by a wasp. It was buzzing around the classroom and I thought it would be nice to get it to land on my cheek. I soon learned that that was not a good idea as the wasp made a bee-line for my cheek and stung me. Muriel Woolsey, a neighbour and one of the older pupils in the school, was taken out of her class to come and take me home. Another consequence of living near the school was that my mother got to cook the apple jelly and the scones we made at some point when I was in Kindergarten. We each had to write a thank-you letter to her. My friends were greatly amused that this included me. In later years living close to the school became very convenient when we would leave some important homework book at school and Mr Kerr (McKerr?), the caretaker, would kindly unlock the door and let us retrieve what we needed.

Miss Ruddell welcomed us into Form 1 – she took Forms 1 and 2, with Form 1 pupils sitting on one side of the room and Form 2 pupils on the other. On the day that we were due to start in Form 1 the younger brother of one of my friends was starting in Kindergarten. He was not at all happy about having to be in school, so his sister was asked to stay with him in the Kindergarten room just for a few days to help him settle in. Big sister wasn’t happy with that arrangement, so the teachers concerned asked me to stay as well to keep her company. Fortunately I was compliant and soon enough the boy concerned settled in and my friend and I were able to rejoin our class mates in Form 1. My friend’s name was Dinah Sinton and her younger brother’s name? Dan, now Dan Sinton, MBE!

At some stage during our Form 1 or Form 2 year, Miss Ruddell participated in a teacher exchange with a teacher in America, whose name was Miss Toots. I remember Miss Toots and I also remember Miss Ruddell coming back. We were glad to see her back as she was well-loved by all of us, being gentle but firm.

Not long after we started in Form 1, Mr Woodman himself came in to our classroom one day and announced that ours was going to be the first Form 1 class to be given ‘homework’, which made me feel very important. Thus began many years of homework for which the novelty soon wore off. (When my youngest child finally left school I was greatly relieved that there would be no more homework in my life!) It was also the first year that I can remember being aware of any tests and when the results of the first of these were put up on the wall I was very puzzled – there was someone on there called Total – who on earth was Total? Whoever he or she was, they were very clever because they got the highest marks! I think Miss Ruddell explained Total and all became clear.

In Form 1 we discovered the joys of Free Activity on Friday – every Friday afternoon we worked on some sort of craft or art work, depending on which Form we were in. I think it was some kind of painting in those Forms 1 and 2 days and I clearly remember doing weaving in Form 3 with Miss Creighton and embroidery, etc. with Miss Mark in Form 4. I have happy memories of those years when the girls in the form sat around our teacher working on our projects. My only problem was that I was rather slow and most of the other girls had finished several projects when I was still on my first. Our projects, if good enough, were displayed on the day of the annual end of year school concert. Unfortunately, in Form 3 I only managed to complete one of a pair of slippers, so had nothing to display. Incidentally, Miss Mark was the headmistress in those days. When we got to Form 5 and Mr Turner, Friday afternoons were taken up with art.

In our school we had one long room which was divided by means of sliding partition doors into 3 classrooms. Each morning the partition doors were opened and the children from Form 5, who were in a different part of the building, joined Forms 1-4 for morning assembly. This always culminated in us all marching round the outside of the room, accompanied by Miss Creighton on the piano. She was the music teacher and took us for choir singing and percussion band lessons throughout the year. We also did drama once a week, which in our Form 2 year was taken by a Mrs McNally, a local speech and drama teacher.

Miss Creighton, our Form 3 teacher, was very glamorous and also very strict and fond of using a ruler on someone’s hand if they hadn’t done their work correctly. If you tried to be clever and keep your hand out of the way, she used the ruler on your leg instead. She did have her soft side. One day she was keeping me in after school for some misdemeanour and she happened to look out the window and saw my mother standing at the school gate. She knew this was unusual as my siblings and I usually walked home from school, so she remarked about seeing her. When I told her that my cousin was coming home after 6 months in New Zealand, which was true, she said that in that case I could go on home.

Miss Mark was our Form 4 teacher and also the head mistress. She was another one who didn’t tolerate any nonsense but who cared deeply for every pupil under her care and we respected and loved her in return. Our favourite times with her were when we sat around her in a circle for drama class and for free activity. At the time that our Qualifying Exam results came out the following year, she gathered the children around her who hadn’t succeeded in getting a grammar school place and spoke to them. I have no idea what she said to them, but I am sure her words would have been positive and encouraging.

Two things Miss Mark loved to say to us were: ‘Did you try?’ when we said we couldn’t do some work she’d given us to do and ‘No, they’re very soft!’ when we asked if the sums she was about to write on the board for us were very hard. Miss Mark also introduced us to the concept of ‘prefects’ and gave each of us a turn at this important role. One of our jobs was to hold each door open when we had to go to another classroom and once when I was prefect I forgot to hold the outside door open and it swung shut in her face – ‘Preeeefect!’ was the next thing I heard.

At the end of the summer term the big event of the year happened – the end of year school concert mentioned earlier. This was when we performed what we had been practising throughout the year and parents, grandparents and friends were all invited. Kindergarten entertained us with their jingles, Forms 1-4 did band, choir and drama performances and Form 5 did choir and drama. I remember that in Form 2 our play was called The Green Imp and in Form 5 it was Alice in Wonderland. As indicated earlier, this was also the occasion when all our art and craft work we had completed during the year was put on display for our parents, etc. to admire.

Play times and PE or gym, as we called it in those days, were always fun in the Junior School. It was there that we were introduced to rounders and to chain tig. Other activities we enjoyed outside were nature walks, netball, marbles, hopscotch, stick-in-the-mud and line tig. The last activity was something someone made up and was played on the lines of the netball court. It was good fun. We also really enjoyed when the teacher said to get the apparatus out for PE, because that meant we could practise balancing and walking along the bar. The last formal outdoor activity of the year in the Junior School was Sports Day when every child participated. We had ‘flat’ races, sack races, egg and spoon races, 3-legged races and wheelbarrow races, not to mention the slow bicycle race and the visitors’ race for any pre-school children attending. It was a great afternoon out for all the family and much ice cream was bought and consumed.

As we approached the end of our year in Form 4, most of us began to dread moving into the Form 5 room and Mr Turner’s class and asked if we could possibly skip that class, but Miss Mark told us that was not an option and reassured us that we would be fine. In Form 5 we had 2 teachers – Mr Turner taught us English, Arithmetic and Art, but Mr Stewart came in to teach us history and geography. We still had singing lessons with Miss Creighton, of course, and Mr Turner directed us in our end of year concert drama production, which that year was Alice in Wonderland. We had great fun rehearsing that. Being in Form 5 brought extra privileges such as going swimming in Gilford Swimming Pool with pupils from the Senior School and also going to watch films at the Senior School. Another feature of Form 5 that I remember was having to run round the roundabout at the front of the school. Mr Turner had us do that once a day and the number of circuits we had to do always varied. I guess it was to allow us more opportunity to get some exercise.

Class work became more serious in Form 5, as we were working towards the Qualifying Examination, as it was known then, or ‘the Quali’ for short. It was at this point that we started using pens instead of pencils. Homework became a real chore in those days as Mr Turner was very strict with his marking – marks out of 10 for the work and marks out of 10 for neatness. Crossing out or deleting our work in any way lost us marks. Even lines had to be ruled perfectly. Tearing out a page and starting over again also brought penalties. At first I used 2 fountain pens, one with red ink and the other with blue ink and my father often had to use a special erasing fluid on my work as the harder I tried the more mistakes I made when copying my work from my jotter to my exercise book. Eventually we realized we could use ballpoint pens which made things a lot easier.

Mr Turner had an interesting way of dealing with people whose attention was wandering in class and they found themselves looking out the window at anyone who was outside – he would insist that the pupil go outside and ask the person concerned what they were doing, then report back to him with the answer. At other times he would tap someone’s desk with his long cane if he thought they weren’t paying attention to their work.

You always knew when you’d done either extremely well or extremely badly in composition work, because Mr Turner would read these out to the class. If he thought it was well written he read it in a manner that was easy to listen to, but if he thought it was poorly written he read it in a boring manner that was difficult to listen to.

Mr Turner must have been very keen to figure out which of us was likely to have been successful in the Qualifying arithmetic Exam because he made us rewrite in class what we had written in the exam. He may have done the same with the English exam, though how we could have remembered everything we’d written in that beats me.

When the Qualifying Exam results came out, one of the boys in the class came into school and announced importantly that he was ‘a border case’. Once again, as in Form 1, I was confused: what on earth was a border case? I’d only ever heard of boarders – my parents had both attended boarding school – and a case, as far as I knew, was something you put your clothes in when you went away on holiday. So what on earth was this boy talking about? I don’t know who enlightened me on that occasion. By the time the Qualifying results came out, there were only a few weeks left of our time in the Junior School and Mr Turner allowed us to bring board games into school to play during class time – Waddington’s Buccaneer became very popular as well as other board games of the day.

Our last day at Portadown College Junior School was very sad as we were all going in different directions – some were staying on at the school, either because they were deemed too young to transfer to a grammar school, or they had not passed the Qualifying Exam and would be sitting the Review Exam the next year; some were transferring to the Senior School and the remainder were transferring to other schools. Our class structure changed over the years with people leaving the school to move elsewhere, others joining us from elsewhere and others staying behind a year, thus joining our class, or staying behind a year when we moved on, but the nucleus of class members remained the same. Names I remember on the way through were Ann Bright, Susan Calvert, Jacqueline Greeves, Esther Jones, Susan Pettigrew, Hilary George, Elizabeth Parkinson, Jennifer Biggart, Frances Noble, Elizabeth Robinson, Lindsay Parish, Caryl Quinn, Pearl Troughton, Dawn Magowan, Dinah Sinton, Margaret Gaston, Lois Hampton, Raymond Hutchinson, John Allen, John Girling, William Lutton, Maurice McDonagh (my cousin), Dudley Cole and Gilbert Carson. The summer holidays passed quickly and soon we changed from being senior pupils of the Junior School to junior members of the Senior School.

Transferring from the Junior to the Senior School meant there wasn’t too much of a change in uniform – a new blazer pocket and a summer uniform dress for the summer term. The number of qualifiers that year must have been low as there were just 3 streams in our year – A, B and C. I was in 1B, along with Jacqueline Greeves, John Allen and Raymond Hutchinson of Tayto fame (no relation to my husband’s family), but we soon made friends with the other children. Other names I remember are: Katrine Dickey, Mareth Corkin, Caroline Jennett, Carol McCann, Dorothy Heak, Hazel Turkington, Diane Bell, Helen Wood, Vivienne Gilpin, Elizabeth Hinton, Elizabeth Stevenson, Stephen Magowan, Jim Magee, Alan Stewart, John Gracey, Martin Brown, David Cree, John Cassidy, John Allen, David Thornton, Evans Hunniford and Rea Finlay. Some of the class moved to different streams in our second year and we were also joined by pupils from other streams. Mr Woodman made it easier for us to find our way round the school with direction signs around the school, but I still managed to wander into the wrong classroom, where a kind and understanding teacher would redirect me to the right one.

Travel to and from school was by various means – foot, bicycle or car. We went home for lunch so sometimes my father and sometimes Jacqui Greeves’ father collected us. I can remember him holding up the traffic like a crossing man so that we could cross Bridge Street to get to the car. Occasionally circumstances dictated that our family had to eat at the canteen up the street from the school, so we had to join the others going there. I never really enjoyed the canteen very much and was happy when we returned to our normal routine. Of course, the new school had its own canteen on the premises, but I still did not enjoy eating there – I must have been spoiled by the eating at home routine.

In those days pupils sat for the Junior Certificate exams in 3rd Year, so the subjects we studied for our 1st 3 years were Science, Domestic Science, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, French, Latin, History, Geography and Art. We had Miss Fleming for Science, Miss Minnis for Domestic Science, Miss Bottom for Maths, Mr Reid for French, Mr Woodman for Latin, Miss Knox for History and Music, Mrs Gracey for Geography, Miss Harvey for Religious Knowledge and Miss Connolly for Art. We also had Mr Sye for Biology in First Year. Miss Bottom left at the end of our 2nd year and Mr Carrick took her place as our maths teacher. The class was very disappointed when we heard that Miss Bottom would be leaving before our Junior Certificate year and thought she could at least have stayed another year to get us through our algebra, geometry and arithmetic exams! When we asked her about it she just said she was sure our next teacher would get us through our exams just fine. I remember that in Miss Bottom’s class often when she had to explain something again to someone, John Gracey would call out, ‘Di ya see nigh?’ Many of us in our class had a habit of swinging back on our chairs in class and Mr Carrick would often say, “Sit on the four legs of your chair!” We always enjoyed history class when Miss Knox would take out a story book – historical fiction – and start writing numbers from 1 on the blackboard. The idea was that if the class was quiet by the time she got to 5, she would read us some of the book – a chapter maybe. Everyone would start counting with her, but as she reached 4, we would call out 4 and a half, 4 and three quarters, etc. to give everyone a chance to settle down, which she usually went along with quite happily.

Mr Woodman helped us remember rules in Latin by teaching us rhymes. One of these went ‘Tall MP keeps the ‘e’, tener, asper, liber, lacer, miser, prosper.’ It was a joy to be taught by Mr Woodman and his classes were always very lively but never got out of hand.

Mrs Gracey was very strict, making sure that nobody could copy off their neighbour during a test by making us put our books in the middle of the desk so that we couldn’t see what the other was writing and no one ever came to class without their homework done. I think she was a bit disappointed in me as my 2 siblings and cousin whom she also taught were good at geography and I was not that good at it. I met her again in more recent years and found her to be a very friendly lady.

Miss Harvey was a tall, kindly lady who showed us the lessons to be learned from the parables of Jesus in our RK lessons with her in first year.

Despite all Miss Connolly’s efforts to turn me into a reasonable artist I just couldn’t manage it and, like the slippers in Form 3, I would be still ruling the lines for a design when everyone else had theirs finished. Because of my failed struggle with the subject Mr Woodman very graciously allowed me to drop the subject before our Junior Certificate exams. Sadly Miss Connolly, who later became Mrs Hill, died in a fire in her bungalow a number of years ago.

Some of the girls in our class loved to tease Mr Reid. They would stand at the top of the stairs and wait for him to appear at the bottom and make his way up to the classroom, then run into the room screaming like hysterical school girls. One day Katrine Dickey donned a pair of glasses which had no lens in them and proceeded to put her finger through one of the holes and rub her eye. Mr Reid looked puzzled but never said a word.

We were very sobered, in our first year, to hear of the death of one of the senior pupils, Brian McVitty, on his way to school one morning, but even more shocked by the death of David Walker in our second year whose brother Brian was in our class.

Along with others who did well in French and Latin I accepted the offer to take up German in 2nd year. Miss Gordon was our teacher for that. That first year in Domestic Science we had to make aprons – nothing ready-made in those days – and were told that once we got them finished we could then do some cooking. I think we had about 3 or 4 weeks of cooking at the end of the year.

Mr Woodman loved us to have fun as well as work and the parties held for Years 1 to 3 at Christmas time were a lot of fun for everyone. He was very fond of spur of the moment activity such as the time he cancelled afternoon lessons and called the whole school to the assembly hall for some old time dancing. Another time he did something on the spur of the moment was when the Queen Mother was visiting Portadown and he got us all out into the street to form a guard of honour.

So keen was Mr Woodman that we should have fun and relaxation time at school that he sent a letter out to parents on one occasion telling them that young people shouldn’t be spending a long time doing their homework but should also be taking up other activities.

We moved to the new school after my second year and I can well remember the last morning at the old school with Mr Woodman, otherwise known as ‘the head’ conducting everyone as we linked arms and sang Auld Lang Syne.

Our move came in September 1962, the beginning of my Junior Certificate Year, and commenced with the official opening of the school at a special assembly. It was great to be in a brand new building where the direction signs this time were needed by everyone. We had a new school crest, but the uniform remained much the same, with a regulation jumper added at some stage and the introduction of skirts for girls from Lower Sixth and above and later for girls from Fourth Year onwards. Of course, we mustn’t forget about the school berets and caps that had to be worn by pupils in their first three years. Prefects thoroughly enjoyed putting people in prefects’ detention for defaulting on that one. The school song didn’t change and neither did the motto song. There was some doubt about singing about ‘the river that flows hard by our gate’ as the river was no longer ‘hard by our gate’, but Mr Woodman reckoned it was close enough to keep the line in.

Right from the start the school building was not big enough to hold all the classrooms that were needed so until a nice new wing was added the language classes were held in the Finlandia building which had been transported from the old school site. While the exercise involved in walking down to Finlandia for those classes was no doubt good for us, we appreciated the facilities of the new wing which included a language laboratory – the arts department’s answer to the science laboratories.

The main event of the year was the school speech day when the school and its guests took over the Regal Cinema in the town. There was the usual round of speeches from head boy, head girl, headmaster, guest speaker, etc. as well as performances by the choir, conducted by Miss Knox, not to mention the prize giving, when pupils from Form 1 in the Junior School through to those who had just left school a few months previously received prizes, trophies and exam certificates. I won a prize for Form 2 and have vague memories of visiting the prefects’ room with its apparently huge occupants.

After Junior, apart from English, French and Maths, which were required subjects, I studied German, Latin and History. In those days there was a Senior Certificate to attain as well as the GCE O’Level Certificate. I remember that because I had taken so few subjects I was going to have to pass all of them to be sure of getting the Senior Certificate. The maths exam was one that I’m sure I will always remember. It was a very sunny, hot day, but with a slight breeze which was knocking the venetian blind against the window in the classroom where I was sitting. There was also a dog barking in the distance, so the invigilator decided to close the window for peace and quiet for the students. This was not much help to me, however, as the sun glaring in the window gave me a pounding headache and I could hardly concentrate on the exam. Fortunately I managed a pass despite the difficulties.

My teachers in the GCE O’Level/Senior Certificate years were: Mr Navan (English), Mr McCabe (Maths), Mr Anderson (French), Mr Graham (History), Mr Woodman (Latin) and Miss Scott (German). I also tried Greek for a while, but just couldn’t grasp it and gave it up.

To those of us who complained about the difficulty of maths, Mr McCabe used to insist that Maths was perfectly simple as all that was required for any sum was to decide whether you had to add, subtract, multiply or divide.

My memory of Mr Anderson is of a tall figure sweeping down the corridor in Finlandia with his gown flowing behind him.

Mr Graham had a plan on paper of who was sitting where and didn’t like anyone sitting anywhere different as that would just confuse him. I also remember him rubbing the back of his head a lot. He never stood when he was teaching - always sat. He sent me to his house one day to retrieve a pen he’d left in a jacket there, but Mr Woodman would never send anyone out on an errand, I think because he’d once sent someone on an errand with tragic consequences.

Miss Scott decided to call us by the German equivalent of our name and gave us a new name if there was no German equivalent. As there is no German equivalent of ‘Gillian’ I was given the name Irmgard. She not only addressed us by our German names in class but also any other time she saw us in school – ‘Ah, there you are Irmgard – I’ve been looking for you!’ Sadly, Miss Scott suffered a lot of abuse from other classes in the school and left to go to another school as a result. It would appear that things didn’t improve for her there - I read that she had walked to the sea one day, kept walking and didn’t return. She told our class one day that we and one other class were the only ones she didn’t have any trouble with.

I remember one occasion when the French assistant of that year was taking the class for dictation. Mr Anderson had left the room, so the poor woman was at the mercy of the class. It was difficult making out what she was saying and people kept asking her to repeat what she had just said. Eventually she got so tired of having to repeat the script so often that she started writing it on the blackboard. Nobody pointed out to her that you don’t do that when giving dictation – everyone just happily copied down what she had written on the board.

In that same school year we had another teacher exchange with America when Miss Harvey, who taught Latin, swapped places with a Miss Orlene Kruger from Michigan, who became a very popular member of our community at PC, if only temporary. She taught the school to sing the words of Star Spangled Banner and we all sang it together in the Assembly Hall on Thanksgiving Day. When Miss Kruger visited the school on a later occasion, Mr Woodman had another of his spur-of-the-moments when he quickly gathered everyone to the Assembly Hall, handed out printed sheets of the lyrics and got us all to sing Star Spangled Banner once again as a surprise. Miss Kruger was delighted.

Round about my 4th or 5th year there was talk of ‘The Dickson Plan’. In our class we didn’t think there needed to be any changes in education but one day in Latin class Mr Woodman described how beneficial it would be to pupils not to have to sit the 11plus but wait until the age of 14 before having to face selection. I think he faced opposition from some of his staff in the stand that he took on the proposals, but obviously the plan went ahead and now I hear it’s under threat.

During Final Assembly at the end of my 5th year Mr Woodman announced that our school had the shortest school week in the British Isles and that this would have to be rectified. So from the start of the following school year our timetable was changed from 8x35 minute periods to 9x35 minute periods. Of course, the outgoing pupils were delighted with the timing of that announcement.

Final Assembly took place at the end of each term, with the one at the end of the summer term being a great climax to the school year. Mr Woodman always wrote songs about teachers who were leaving or getting married, setting them to well-known folk tunes and we sang these with great gusto. We all sat in chairs for that assembly, which was just as well as it lasted all morning. We finished by singing Lord Dismiss Us, which was a bit of a tear jerker.

In our 6th year we had the privilege of sitting down in Assembly, because in that year we became monitors and as such we sat at the end of the row of the class we were monitoring. It just meant that we marked the roll for the day and took it to the office after Assembly. This responsibility was continued in our Upper 6th year and was carried by both prefects and monitors.

Before the start of Lower 6th Mr Woodman suggested that I might like to join the civil service. He must have had some doubts about my abilities at A-Level. Perhaps he was right, but I was enjoying school – most of the time – so much that I didn’t really want to leave before taking my A-Levels. My subjects at that stage were English, History, German and French, our teachers being Mr England, Miss Mehaffey, Miss Gordon and Mr Chapman.

Miss Mehaffey was a past pupil of the school as were a number of other teachers at that time. It was strange to see teachers whom we remembered as pupils when we were much younger. She was pleasant and easy to talk to, but I didn’t manage to get a pass grade in her subject unfortunately.

Miss Gordon liked to socialize with us by this stage and invited us all to her flat in Thomas Street one evening, which at that stage she was sharing with Miss Scott. In our final year Miss Gordon organized a Christmas party for her German classes and managed to persuade some of the boys in our year who weren’t actually studying German to come along. We took over the domestic science room and cooked German fare – I can remember making ‘Kartoffelpuffer’ – something similar to hash browns.

Mr England and Mr Chapman – my cousin – were both very good teachers and both were able to guess what we would be asked in our exams – with considerable accuracy. Unfortunately, I didn’t do particularly well in my English A-Level exam, but I did do reasonably well in French. These two gentlemen also commanded a great deal of respect by their general demeanour and attitude.

We also continued to have PE lessons, with our PE teacher by that stage being Miss Page. We were divided at that stage into 6A and 6B, with the latter re-sitting their O-Level GCEs with a view to leaving school at the end of that year. I believe it was in that year that Mr Woodman wrote a nativity play in which quite a large number of pupils took part when it was performed at the end of the Christmas term. My sister Susan and I were both angels and had great fun getting bedecked in white sheets etc. to look the part. Katrine Dickey and Rodney Spence had the lead roles.

The main school play was an annual event which was enjoyed by pupils and parents alike. Productions during my PC years were Pride and Prejudice, Sailor Beware, Charley’s Aunt, Florence Nightingale, Pygmalion, Romeo and Juliet and When We are Married – not in that order. My brother Philip had the lead male role in the Romeo and Juliet production. At the time our father delighted in sharing with everyone that Philip had been promoted to the role from that of ‘cloakroom attendant’ the previous year! Mr Woodman produced and directed the play for most of the years that I was there, but the role was taken over by Miss Lynas, daughter of the school’s bursar. Mr Turner did a fine job as ticket manager and also organized a team of girls to hand out ice cream in the interval – an essential part of going out to the cinema or theatre in those days.

I wasn’t great at sports or athletics – unlike other family members, although I did enjoy netball and enjoyed a weekend away in Ballycastle as a sub with the 1st 7 netball team, organized by Miss Page who was a great netball enthusiast and encourager. Her encouragement was great as netball was a bit of a minority sport and she taught us not to mind about losing but to see it all as experience.

Of course, a person didn’t need to be a good sports person to enjoy supporting the girls’ hockey 1st 11 when they won the hockey shield at Bladon Drive in Belfast. It was great fun that day in our house as my parents’ old school, Friends School, Lisburn were the runners up.

One exciting event we weren’t able to support in person was the Commonwealth Games when Mary Peters won a gold medal in the pentathlon, but everyone cheered when Mr Woodman announced Mary’s victory in assembly. Apparently he sent her a telegram to congratulate ‘our Mary’.

Sports Day was another big event of the year at which just about everyone in the school was involved in some way or other, be it participating in the events, helping to run the event or just as a spectator. We had the pleasure, in my Lower 6th year, of having Mary Peters as the guest of honour at Sports Day.

Final Assembly, June 1967 was a sad but happy occasion – just as final assemblies were for leavers before us. We were sad that our time at Portadown College had come to an end, but happy as we thought back on the years spent there. ‘Lord Dismiss us with Thy Blessing’ was very poignant and walking out of the school gate as pupils for the last time extremely difficult.