Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Generations Join in School Celebrations

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Generations Join in School Celebrations

Article excerpt

Byline: By Dave Black

Four generations of a family who have all been taught at the same village school made a nostalgic return to their old classrooms yesterday to help celebrate its 150th birthday.

Since Chatton First School in Northumberland first opened its doors in 1857, a total of six generations of the Douglas family have been pupils there.

Right from the early days of old-style chalk and blackboard teaching to the modern, computer-based lessons, many members of the Douglas clan have taken their first steps along the educational road at the stone-built village school nestling below the Cheviot Hills.

Yesterday four different generations of the family joined other parents, governors and staff at a special party to mark the school's 150th anniversary. Current pupils Claire and Lauren Rathbone, aged nine and seven, were joined by their mum Vicky, 37, and aunt Jane Wood, 36, their grandmother Wilma Clark, 57, and great-grandparents Bill and Sylvia Douglas.

Former motor mechanic Bill, 80, who is now one of the oldest surviving former pupils, and Sylvia, 77, attended in the 1930s, after Bill's grandfather Christopher started the family's links with the school shortly after it opened.

Boosted by wartime evacuees, Chatton School boasted almost 100 pupils in its 1940s heyday but the number has steadily dwindled to just 17, as the rundown of the local farming industry and a general decline in the rural economy took its toll. Yesterday the pupils, smartly dressed in their school uniforms and carrying special 150th anniversary banners, paraded through the village for a service of thanksgiving and celebration in Holy Cross Church, conducted by the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Rev Martin Wharton.

Afterwards they trooped back to the school for a celebration party where Bishop Wharton cut a birthday cake and presented each pupil with a special bible to mark the milestone. …

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