Memories of High Oakham School by Ann Topham (nee) early 60's)

I am delighted to read about my old High School in Mansfield – High Oakham. I was there for four years in 1-3 BR and then 4 A. I also went on the summer first trip the school organised which was to Switzerland in 1963 – it was really exciting as my first time away from England. I must have got the “bug” as I have since lived in six countries in total, including China and Thailand. These have always been with my husband and sometimes with our two sons. We are currently in Australia roaming the country in a caravan and love it.

I was in the play” Imaginary Invalid” and have wonderful memories of the whole experience. After the play the wonderful English teacher put on a social for us all in the play and we had the Beatles etc playing where we did “The Twist” dance!

I recall Miss Weddle who I found actually to be very kind; her bark worse than her bite especially when she told me, in no uncertain terms to stop messing around in class and apply myself as she believed in me. She gave me the courage and confidence to do that.

Mr. Boyce was there for the final year. Mr. Hutchinson was my form teacher in 4A and I had a lot of respect for him. I think of my years at High Oakham with great fondness and appreciate (now!) the discipline and respect that we were expected to follow.

I also remember Mrs. Reid the little Scottish lady – she lived opposite me. She taught RE and made the Bible come alive with her lovely Scottish accent! I loved History, English, RE and Homecrafts. I was useless at needlework and maths terrified me, especially Mr. Barker and Mr. Carter who would hit the top of the head of anyone on the end of the row – hence everyone clambered to sit in the middle of the row!

I have some wonderful memories of it all including sharing my spelling with a tall, very quiet, boy named Stephen whilst he shared his maths with me………ha ha that didn’t help either of us in exam times with our respective weaknesses! I would love to hear from someone who remembers our class mates. At 70 years in a weeks time it is good to know many of us are still alive! All the best. Ann Topham (now Shirleyann Butler) Shirleyann was actually my correct name which I have reverted to.

Comments about this page

  • Hello,
    Nice to read these messages from yester year at High Oakham. I was in the BR class, I remember Miss Weddle, although I never came across her, Mr Gamble was the maths teacher who used to throw the board rubber at any misbehaving child! Mr Dicks was the sports teacher – unfortunately no longer with us. I used to enjoy the football and the athletics but hated the cross country, he was always geeing me up to do better, The only time I won a race he left before my return. I was into sports so enjoyed my time with him very much.
    I worked for Coats Viyella, supplying knitwear to M &S spending a considerable time in the Far East. I have been retired for many years now and am now 76 years old and have two great grandchildren that keep me on my toes. There are many other people I remember, (I can see their faces now) but just cannot remember their names.
    Some of the pupils’ names I remember are : Mick Frost, who I know moved to Canada, Russell Phillips, Pauline Carter – who I still see occasionally in Mansfield, Bob Howieson, Irene Harpham, Sheila White, Gillian Peat and Paul Twigger.

    By John Revill (12/04/2023)
  • It has been a very long time since I have taken a look at the Memories section re. High Oakham.
    I did notice the name Christine Smith, I recall a girl who was in 1BR and 2BR with me, this was in 1960/61.
    Does any one know of a Michael Dring and Peter Curtis?
    I trust all the people who went through HO are doing well.
    Take care
    Michael Frost

    By Mike Frost (22/08/2022)
  • Hi to my old school friends, wanted to write this for a long time. I live in Mansfield, have a daughter who lives with me.
    Can anyone remember Jimmy Daws, Andrea Stendall, Christina Balavenda, Roger Want, Peter Evans, Christiane Townroe, Jeanette Bending, David Kirkham, Jacqueline Hickman, Carol Marsh, Colin Kemp, Trever Spencer, Janet Kirkham, Leocardea Sobchinski, Peter Green, Avril Jones, Lynn Roberts, Helen Riley, Robert Roberts, Susan Marshall, Christine Smith, Christine Bacon, Christine Bradley, Jennifer Tagg?
    Apologies if I have spelt any names incorrect. My very best wishes, Sheryl

    By Sheryl Brown (06/05/2022)
  • Hi Ann/Shirlyann,
    I was at High Oakham during the same years as you, though I was in the AR class. But I do remember the play “Imaginary Invalid” – at least I recall enjoying it, not much more than that. There was also a play called Ghost Train one year.
    I do remember you. You lived on Litchfield Lane, not far from fellow students John Waterfield and John Eastgate (who was in your class 4A). John Eastgate has remained my friend for over 60 years and we are still in regular touch although I now live in Devon.
    I was also on that fabulous 1963 trip to Switzerland, so we would have shared the same coach journey from Mansfield. Like you, the trip seemed to fire in me an interest in foreign travel, and I have since visited nearly every country in the world that I actually want to, plus one or two (for work) I could have done without. After leaving High Oakham I went into a factory (Whiteleys) which I hated so much it woke me up. I started to work hard at Day Release until eventually I gained good enough grades in my ONC that I qualified to go to University, which I did at age 21. An Engineering degree opened the door for me to a wide range of interesting jobs, but of course I’ve now retired.
    I do have to take issue with you regarding Miss Weddle: I found her an absolute Rottweiler of a headmistress, and I was immensely relieved when Mr Boyce took over. Although I too received a little pep talk from Miss Weddle at one stage, it fell on deaf ears.
    I remember lots of the names other people have mentioned, pupils and staff. I didn’t really get along with the Scottish lady “Miss” Reid”, as I felt RI was a waste of time and her Art classes featured rote learning of which classical artists belonged to which School: Flemish or whatever. This was not my idea of Art, as I wanted to be creative. Before Covid started I actually went to Art School for a few years, so I got there in the end. Interestingly she was always “Miss” Reid although she was married. I wonder if that was so children could say “Yes, Miss”?
    That’s enough rambling from me. I wonder if any photographs exist of the trip to Switzerland. I still own a music box I bought there, and it still works perfectly.

    By Peter Burrows (11/02/2022)
  • Hi Shirleyann
    Took a long time for me to reply to your comments and questions. I married a Canadian mennonite lady from Winnipeg and we have two boys both 6’5″ tall. We have 5 grandchildren, 3 boys and two girls all under seven years old. I worked in Saudi Arabia and Canada as a construction estimator and quantity surveyor. and had my own company for 30 years. I am now currently retired and enjoying the grand children.
    I remember Stephen Sharp worked for the National Coal Board as a mining electrician along with my brother Robert, who was 2 years younger than me. He also attended High Oakham School.
    Was it Mr Barker the art teacher that used to throw the chalkboard eraser across the classroom if he heard someone talking?
    Wishing you all the best, from Edmonton, Canada.

    By William David Wragg (10/12/2021)
  • Does anyone remember my husband Janos Bosnjak who was there between 64 – 68/69?

    By Joyce Bosnjak (04/12/2021)
  • OOOPS major error, it is not ms Reid ,
    My apologies, it was ms Ouellete( sic ?)


    By Michael Frost (27/12/2020)
  • I also went to High Oakham, from Sept 1960 to April 1961 before moving to Ontario Canada.
    I was in forms 1BR, had Mrs Beresford as home room teacher for 2BR. Some of the people I recall are: Geoffery Peach, “Rusty Phillips”, Pauline Carter, John Reville, Ms Greenhalge (sic) Mr Dicks( sports) Ms Reid.. she was my Godfathers aunt and taught history. Mr Lockwood (choir master ?). There are many more. Enjoyed my time there tremendously.
    Mike Frost

    By Michael Frost (27/12/2020)
  • Hi Shirleyann
    I remember you although I was not in your class. I am William North (Billy) I am on the prize giving photo 1964, the boy on the left standing.
    Loved the school and the wonderful memories. Oh where have the years gone?

    By Bill North (03/11/2020)
  • No sorry, I do not recall Gillian Cook despite her being in the same era when I attended school. Does anyone know where Susan Reid and Dianne Tedcastle are? They were in my first and final form. All the best

    By Shirleyann Butler nee Ann toph (11/08/2020)
  • My cousin, Gillian Cook, was at High Oakham in th 1960s. Does anyone remember her?

    By Suzanne Lee (16/07/2020)
  • I went to High Oakham school in the early 1950’s, remember Miss Weddle to this day and Mr Bollands, the other teachers I can’t recall, such a long time ago.
    Loved that school, I lived on Beaumont Avenue off Big Barn Lane.

    By Patricia Campion (01/07/2020)
  • Hi there David – just using some time whilst in lockdown with this dreadful Covid 19 to read about our old school. Hope you are well. My husband and I returned to NZ to spend some time with our sons and their families, but especially to meet and welcome two grandchildren – then found ourselves in the middle of it all. NZ has done a complete lockdown and we are currently in the middle of the four weeks. Once things settle we will return to Australia – we had our return flights for mid-May but they have been cancelled.

    I have often wondered what happened to Sarah Richards who became a nurse. I lost touch with her unfortunately. We were not good together in the sense that we got into trouble too much… mainly because we were both the chatty, outgoing types – a characteristic not to be tolerated in those days! Once I was put into 4A I sorted myself out as far as focusing on study. Do you know what happened to the boys you mention and which class were they in?
    Its amazing that you have also travelled and lived in other countries. Iraq and S.Arabia would have been an amazing experience… our Chinese one certainly was.
    Which class were you in David when I was there?
    What work do you do or rather did you do? Did you marry and was the lady from Mansfield? My husband went to Brunts – very good at maths and physics, so unlike myself.
    Do you remember Mr. Barker – can you believe it but he taught my father who was in his mid thirties when I was born? I remember when Mr. Barker had me standing to work out a problem in front of the class – from his blackboard. I was terrified. Unless the lovely boy Stephen sitting next to me whispered the answer to me I got it wrong. Mr. Barker once said in dismay, “You are not as good as your father at maths, Topham”! My father told me that he used to hide the cane from his maths teacher under the floor boards at St. Peter’s School that he attended! My Dad was outstanding at maths and soccer and that was about it – he was also notoriously mischievous so often got the cane!
    Anyway all the best to you and yours during this challenging time and stay well and safe. Thanks so much for your post/comment! Shirleyann

    By Shirleyann Butler nee Topham (11/04/2020)
  • Hi Ann
    I remember you at school along with Sarah Richards, George Wragg, Alwyn Carter and Stephen Sharp to mention but a few. My name is David Wragg and now live in Edmonton, Canada, after working in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Seems like a long time ago. I think I still have a Bible from Miss Reid.

    By William David Wragg (06/09/2019)

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