Half century of learning

Pupils at Hillcrest Community Infant School in Gainsborough celebrates it's 50th Birthday this year G110924-1
Pupils at Hillcrest Community Infant School in Gainsborough celebrates it's 50th Birthday this year G110924-1

GOING back for a school reunion is always a bit nerve-wracking.

Will you remember anyone else, will they remember you? Has everyone else been more successful or travelled more than you?

And it’s strange how the memory plays tricks on you and everything seems to have shrunk.

Surely the hall was bigger than this? And how did we ever squeeze on to these tiny chairs and sit at these tables?

It’s even harder when you have to cast your mind back 50 years to 1961.

Past pupils of Hillcrest Community Infant and Nursery Road have just that experience when they celebrated the anniversary of what was once called simply Heapham Road County Infant School.

When it opened under the leadership of headmistress Amy Beswick, it had just 89 pupils and five staff.

An old black and white photo of the school when it opened shows two sturdy buildings partially hidden by bushes on the approach path.

Today’s 160 pupils - who are looked after by 34 staff - have a playground full of play apparatus and colourful wall plaques which the 1960s school children could only have dreamt of.

Current pupils were also treated to a daytime celebration of their school’s anniversary.

Alisha Jackson, six, who is in Year Two, said: “We made strawberry jelly to have with vanilla ice cream. It was lovely.”

Trinity Ring, five, from Year One, said: “We played party games as well. Fifty years seems like a really long time ago.”

The children were presented with a painted wooden Viking ship to add to their collection of playground equipment, as a 50th birthday memento.

Senior teacher Luke Lovelidge, who has worked at Hillcrest for two years, said they had talked to the children about the school’s anniversary and its history.

He said: “We had a lot of interest from people who had been to school here and from past members of staff.”

“We had a display of old photos that people sent in and it was a good night.”

“Parent helper Sam Gibson made a fruit birthday cake and it was iced with the school logo by graduate teacher Laura McDonald.”

The cake was cut by senior teaching assistant Mary Kirman, who is currently the longest serving member of staff.

She started at Hillcrest 25 years ago as a one-to-one with a pupil called Paul Ward, who she met up with again at the reunion party.

She said: “He remembered me as well. He’s got his own tattoo shop in town and his children come to Hillcrest now, which makes me feel very old!”

“I’ve seen a lot of comings and goings amongst the staff while I’ve been here and have worked for three different heads.”

“The teaching is different now with the new technologies, such as the interactive white boards, and there is more paperwork. I still really enjoy it though, I work with the Year Twos and foundation stage.”

The school is now led by Julie McDonald. Over the years there have been several extensions, including the nursery, a new library and offices, and a new logo was introduced in 1999.

Ready for many more generations of children to begin their school life here.