The centenary celebration 1990
The year 1990 was the 100th anniversary of the foundation of St Margaret's School and, although the school no longer existed, its memory and spirit were very much alive in the women who had been educated there. The Old Girls' Society, which had been run for many years by Maureen O'Sullivan (Mrs Olley), organised a centenary reunion on 14 October. It was advertised in newspapers early in the year.
The celebration began with a special service at Holy Trinity at 10.30, conducted by the Vicar, Canon R O Stroud. Those 'girls', now mature ladies and many of them grandmothers, who were not overcome by emotion sang the school hymn 'Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing'.
This was followed by a luncheon held at Ward's Hotel, Earl's Avenue, a few yards from the site of the old school building. Two hundred girls and staff, including many pre-war girls from the de la Mare days, packed into the long room and enjoyed a buffet lunch followed by speeches and presentations.
"Yesterday was unbelievable - to see 'girls' after 35 years was marvellous. I'm speechless and 'wordless', and am finding it very difficult to put on paper my feelings about yesterday. As you said, the days at St Mags were great and will always be with us. I felt very proud to be sitting with the girls of St Margaret's in Church and even prouder of the stained glass window in Holy Trinity. The memories of school are always with me, but yesterday - well...I shall be crying in a minute! The most wonderful, wonderful day." (Margaret Harrison, 1947-56)
"Excitement bubbled over in meetings of 'old' faces, and exchanges of news, mingled with many moments of nostalgia. I am deeply happy to have been there in person, amongst you all, sharing experiences and, in some cases, adult life histories. One thing which struck me forcibly was how beautiful the girls had become in their maturity. No matter whether they were fat or thin - it was their facial expressions; and interesting conversations regarding their various walks of life, revealing individual personalities, which I felt had something to do with the school background." (Mrs Kathleen Whiteside, Staff, later Mrs Smyth.)
2004 reunion (Folkestone Herald)
Yes, I know we had been holding reunions for 51 years, not 37. The Press have their own rules about changing people's text, don't they? CT.
Reunion 16 October 2005
Over 30 Old Girls, accompanied by Colin Hasson and his wife, enjoyed a tea-party at the Burlington Hotel in Folkestone. We were delighted to welcome some of the younger ones who were at the School when it closed and have never been to a SMOGS reunion before. They learned about it by discovering this website on the Internet. But we were disappointed that a large proportion of those who had booked places failed to turn up without warning us, including someone who asked for a special diet.
We met for tea at the Burlington Hotel in Folkestone again on 22 October and we had a good time. Bookings had been slow to come in, but a multiple email brought out a few who had forgotten to book, and we ended up with 46 bookings. However, it was very disappointing that 15 of them cancelled or failed to turn up on the day. We had a Winifred Hasson display board to mark the 50th anniversary of her untimely death. Zonia Field had lent some Edwardian costumes belonging to Miss Bertha Guilbert de la Mare, niece of the School's founder, and they were a most interesting link with our history.
L-R: Anne Blaxland, Jillian Scragg, Eileen Wright and Sandra Lewis at the 2006 reunion.
On the right is the newspaper article in the Kentish Express 16 Nov 2006, and below is the text within it. Not quite what I told them, but near enough!
2007 tea-party at Maureen's
A happy afternoon was spent at Maureen O'Sullivan's charming home in Monken Hadley near Barnet, Herts. on Sunday 13 October. Colin and Gwyneth Hasson were there, and Hanna Cohn who attended the School during the War years and is thus one of the few Old Girls who remembers the School's evacuation to Shropshire (see History page). Janet King came for the first time, as did Jean Bristow who lives in Canada. One photo of a reconstructed panto scene is above: please send others if you took any!
Maureen thanks those who attended, those who donated towards expenses and the nice letters and emails people sent about it.
"Your generous hospitality and the friendly company made it so enjoyable." - - - "The enjoyment, noise and enthusiasm was as great as ever." - - - "And then there was the splendid tea and the brilliant organisation!" - - - "We had a wonderful afternoon."
Well, the knees have hardly changed! Here are Susan Dolton (Girl Babe) and Caroline Thomas (Boy Babe), in the Pleasure Gardens Theatre in Folkestone (1950), and in Maureen's pleasure garden in Barnet (2007) at the annual SMOGS reunion.
12 October 2008
Jennifer Bateman's gorgeous cottage in Sholden, near Deal, was the scene of one of the happiest reunions for many years. Almost everyone who booked came, and quite a few more besides. We ended up with 41, and it included some new faces who had not been to our Reunions before, including a lovely bunch from Oz. Thank you, Jennifer, for the free-flowing tea and delicious sandwiches, scones, buns and cakes.
Those attending the 2008 reunion: Jamilah Ahmad, Ozzie Azmoudeh, Marigold Bassett, Jennifer Bateman, Anne Blaxland, Margaret Browne, Sandra Browne, Averil Champion, Jill Chapman, Delia Collett, Mary Cope, Isobel Drew, Naomi Dyson Rooke *, Norma Feldwick, Susan Franks, Goli Ganjei, Margaret Harrison, Colin and Gwyneth Hasson, Margaret Hollis, Sonia Joyce, Nicola Morling, Pat Norris, Maureen O'Sullivan, Julia Parker-Jones, Susan Peck, Shirley Pierson, Zan Port, Bridget Ratcliffe, Jenny Ratcliffe, Sherrian Rewell, Diana Salter, Elizabeth Shinkfield, Wendy Smith, Edna Stocker, Caroline Thomas, Pat Underwood, Margaret Weir, Joy Woodland, Wendy Woolliams and Eileen Wright.
* We are sad to tell you that Naomi died suddenly on 30 October, just days after this happy reunion meeting.
Wendy Smith sent us a lovely post-Reunion message: "I was musing on the way home and suddenly realised what a lovely group of people I had just left. A complete stranger walking in would soon realise that there must be something very special to bind them all together. And there is, not only St Margaret's, but those of you who keep the memories alive. Thank you."
2009 - a special guest and special atmosphere. Maureen's lovely home in Barnet was the venue for a very special reunion, because we had made contact with James Ross, son of Dudley and Janet Hasson (Ross is Janet's second married name), who was researching his background on the Internet and found the SMOGS website. He was clearly thrilled to bits to talk to us about our memories, and to browse through Maureen's collection of SMOGS albums, magazines and other memorabilia.
FEEDBACK FROM THE 2009 REUNION
"I felt it was one of the best SMOGS meetings I have attended, with a lovely atmosphere." (Doreen Stone)
"Maureen, what a lovely kind, happy person you are to have run the Old Girls for so long. A huge thankyou to you and Caroline for all your hard work. We're so lucky to have you both." (Jenny Radcliffe)
"I always leave with my happy memories reinforced." (Gillian Chesterman)
"I had an idea whilst driving home. Having experienced the warmth and happy memories, I thought it would be wonderful if we could recall and write down memories of our friends. This could be shared by their children. We did this in a way for James and I saw the comfort and happiness that he derived from us all from our memories of his father and grandmother." (Marylyn Grange)
These are the Girls who attended the 2009 reunion: Vanessa Barrett, Marigold Bassett, Jennifer Bateman, Claire Brown, Gillian Chesterman, Norma Feldwick, Jennifer Grange, Jenifer Hooper, Sonia Hughes, Sonia Joyce, Janet Lean, Anne Martin, Anne Morling, Maureen O'Sullivan, Ruth Page, Jenny Radcliffe, Janine Romieu (Junior French Mistress), Doreen Stone, Caroline Thomas, Brenda Williams, Vida Farhad. And of course, our special guest, whom we appointed Honorary Old Girl -- James Ross, the Principal's youngest son. We had hoped to see Jane Merrow, but she did not come, which disappointed us.
1995 REUNION IN SHOLDEN, DEAL Jennifer Bateman hosted the tea party again, and Caroline took a video of the event, which you can view with a running commentary alongside to tell you who is who. Watch the video!
We had a very happy time at Jennifer's cottage in Sholden, near Deal, on Sunday 3 October. Dudley's son James Ross came, and this time brought his mum Janet Morris. We were delighted to welcome some reunion first-timers. Zan Port and her classmates had already celebrated their 70th birthdays*, but SMOGS presented them with another cake today, enjoyed by all. Go to the Reunion photo album at the top of this page to see the pictures.
The 30 girls who came were:
Carolyn Anderson, Marigold Bassett, Jennifer Bateman, Elizabeth Briscoe-Smith, Jill Chapman, Alison Clarke, Delia Collett, Vida Farhad, Margaret Harrison, Barbara Hodgson, Sonia Joyce, Janet Morris, Pat Norris, Maureen O'Sullivan, Shirley Pierson, Zan Port, Sally Pounds, Honorary Old Girl James Ross, Diana Salter, Susan Shepherd, Diana Salter, Susan Shepherd, Edna Stocker, Audrey Taylor, Caroline Thomas, Pat Underwood, Margaret Weir, Marilyn Wood, Joy Woodland and Eileen Wright.
* And on this subject, Jennifer Bateman read out her adaptation of short text about school reunions. Go to our Reunions page on this website and scroll down to 'A group of ladies....'. The volume of our laughter made her cottage's ancient ceiling beams creak.
Another April reunion at Marylyn's in London. Watch the video via the box at the top left of this page.
VISIT TO KEW GARDENS, 18 MAY 2003
Marilyn Wood invited us to Kew Gardens, where her husband, who worked there, kindly took us on a tour of the gardens and the Herbarium. It was a privelege to see some of Darwin's specimens. Watch the video!
SMOGS' 50TH BIRTHDAY -- 2003
The Society celebrated its half century with a lunch party at the Burlington Hotel in Folkestone on 21 Sep 2003. Watch the video!
and James Ross
2011 REUNION IN HORLEY, SUSSEX
54 Girls attended: Marigold Bassett, Jennifer Bateman, Miranda Baugh, Ann Blaxland, Lyndsay Boyce, Susan Bristow, Jean Bristow, Elvira Brown, Sandra Browne, Jillian Burridge, Caroline Cable, Gillian Chesterman, Lesley Day, Peta Dearing, Vida Farhad, Norma Feldwick, Susan Franks, Diane Gillegin, Margaret Harrison, Elizabeth Harrison, Christine Hemingsley, Wendy James, Penny Jeggo, Sonia Joyce, Mary Lock, Marolyn Lucas, Anne Martin, Vivienne Moncrieff, Susan Morwood, Andria Mount, Jane Newman, Pat Norris, Maureen O'Sullivan, Elizabeth Ogden, Maureen Raffety, Ailsa Ritchie, Susan Rogers, Julie Roome, Claire Ross, Suzanne Ross, Honorary Old Girl James Ross, Jillian Scragg, Rachel Scragg, Tina Shaw, Susan Silvester, Lydia Stanners, Carolyn Stevenson, Caroline Thomas, Louise Thomas, Pat Underwood, Maralyn Waite, Jocelyn Worts, Eileen Wright, Caroline Young.
CHAIRMAN MAUREEN WRITES:
Many of you may know that I started SMOGS when I left St Margaret's at the age of 18 and I am now 76 - nearly 60 years. We have never missed having a meeting every year even when we were down to ten girls as everyone was busy getting married and having babies.
This year I felt I must write to tell you about our meeting, which was held in Horley (Sussex) at the lovely home of Maureen Henderson (nee Rafferty, class of 1964) and her husband. Over the years we have mostly met at my house or at Jennifer Bateman's charming cottage near Deal. Marylyn Grange has also entertained us, as has Geraldine Richmond. My deepest thanks to all these for their unfailing support and generosity, and particularly to Jennifer who has held this for us for many, many years. I put a tentative note in my last letter to ask for a volunteer for this year's meeting, and was thrilled when Maureen offered us her home.
I felt I wanted to write to everyone as this year we had the most SMOGS Girls we have had for many years -- 54. Jean Bristow, who lives in Canada, organised her year as she was coming to England. Girls came from Australia, New Zealand and, of course, Canada. There is a list on this website page with the names of all who attended.
We arrived at Maureen's from 2 p.m. onwards and when I left at 6 p.m. there were still many girls chatting and sharing all their news. I think one could say we chatted the day away. Maureen, her husband Chris and their daughter-in-law Debbie worked tirelessly all day keeping us fed and watered. They had even hired a small marquee - it was all perfect. Many thanks to all three.
Maureen Olley (nee O'Sullivan), SMOGS Chairman
REUNION 1998: In April 1998 we met at Marylyn Grange's house in Notting Hill, London. This was the time when we were meeting twice a year, in Spring and Autumn. Watch the video!
Class of 1959: L-R Wendy James, Susan Bristow, Rachel Scragg, Diane Gillegin, Miranda Baugh, Caroline Thomas, Elizabeth Harrison.
2012 ANNUAL REUNION
Our Hostess this year was Susan Rogers, at her beautiful new home in north London. With the help of her sisters Mary and Diana she laid on a super tea for us. The sitting room had Maureen's school archives laid out for browsing through -- a big attraction especially for those who had not been to a reunion before or for a long time. But at teatime the enormous kitchen area was buzzing with chatter and photography. We all had a super time, and are so grateful to the three Rogers girls for making us so welcome. Here on the left is Susan and her husband. The 30 Old Girls attending were: Vanessa Barrett, Marigold Bassett, Lindsay Boyce, Norma Feldwich, Susan Franks, Sonia Joyce, Barbara Judges, Angela King, Anne Martin, Harriet Mount, Andria Mount, Pat Norris, Maureen O'Sullivan, Elizabeth Ogden, Jenny Radcliffe, Diana Rogers, Mary Jane Rogers, Susan Rogers, Claire Ross, James Ross (Dudley's son and Honorary Old Girl), Elizabeth Shinkfield, Susan Silvester, Susan Stagg (Ling), Lydia Stanners, Carolyn Stevenson, Caroline Thomas, Pat Underwood, Rosemary Voisin, Marilyn Waite, Jocelyn Worts.
"What a lovely reunion. Just superb: everything! Thanks to all who worked to achieve such a warm, welcoming atmosphere in which we could all relax and meet people we had not seen since 1965. I am still thinking about it. Well done and thanks." Julie Roome
"Thank you for all your hard work and preparations which made Sunday such a happy occasion. We are all so lucky to have made such long-lasting friendships from school days. Well done, and we all appreciate the web-site." Elizabeth Shinkfield
"Thanks for organising the lovely lunch at the Hotel Imperial. It was most enjoyable and amazing to meet four girls from my year whom I hadn't seen since school days." Helen Parsons
"Thank you so, so much for giving us all such a happy and memorable day. I didn't want it to end, and to have ten from our form was terrific." Moya Rouse.
"Thank you, Caroline and Maureen, once again for organising such an amazing get together at the Hythe Imperial.Once again the years rolled back ,and it was particularly good to see five friends who I hadn't seen since schooldays." Rosalind Pembroke.
Honorary Old 'Girls' Colin Hasson and James Ross (né Hasson)
2013 REUNION -
CELEBRATING 60 YEARS OF SMOGS
It is quite extraordinary that SMOGS has been going for six decades. Maureen O'Sullivan founded it when she left the School in 1953, and it has grown from strength to strength, with an extra spurt in recent years with modern telecommunications and the website. You can imagine how gratified she was that there were nearly 100 of us at the Mercure Imperial Hotel in Hythe on Sunday 8 September to celebrate the occasion with a buffet lunch party.
Marigold Bassett was on reception ticking off the names, the smart new name labels had been laid out by Caroline Thomas in alphabetical order, the tables were decorated with navy and white balloons in the School's colours, and the buffet lunch of roast chicken or cold meats and salad, profiteroles and gateaux was delicious. Maureen O'Sullivan and her team of organisers (minus much-missed Pat Norris who was not well) were delighted with the arrangements provided by the hotel, and were thrilled beyond words to see everyone renewing their old friendships, hugging, laughing, chatting and taking photos and videos from start to finish. A photographer from the Folkestone Herald took a group photo. It was quite a challenge to fit so many people into the picture, all talking non-stop, and without the School's advantages of tables, chairs and forms from the gym to stand or sit on. He went away with details of our website and no doubt a sense of relief that he survived the ordeal.
Dudley's two sons Colin Hasson and James Ross were there, and Colin made a most gracious speech of thanks, adding that his parents, Winifred and Dudley, and the De la Mares would have been so proud that we continued to remember the School with such affection. Rosemary Voisin spoke, as the oldest Old Girl present (her O-level year was 1948). Maureen said how happy she was to see everyone enjoying themselves and thanked her team, and was glad she did not have to worry about computers. She has the idea that Caroline spends hours on her PC working for SMOGS, so Caroline jumped up to reassure Maureen with these words: "The quality of modern digital computer technology is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: it blesseth her that gives and them that take." She might have gone on to say: "To be computerised, or not to be: that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the spam, screen lockouts and computer crashes, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by not having a computer, end them?"
Chairman Maureen and Secretary/Webmistress Caroline were touched and honoured to be each presented with a basket of flowers and a gift voucher.
Folkestone Herald, 3 Oct 2013.
As usual, the press get facts wrong and misquoted Jennifer's telephone interview.
Geraldine Richmond did not like the Herald's report at all, and her letter telling them so was published. She pointed out that we were pupils, not students, that the school was founded in 1890, not 1860, that Mr Hasson was Principal, not Headmaster. She deplored the fact that there was no mention of our undefeated cricket teams or annual pantomime, and gave her verdict of grade D to the reporter's effort.
Sun 21 September was such a happy afternoon for the 39 of us at the Imperial Hotel in Hythe. O-level years 1957 and 1966 win the joint prize for numbers attending, with six each, largely because someone in their class contacted their mates and persuaded them to come. Any of you can do that -- you all have the Directory and annual Updates.
Gerry Richmond wrote: "I just wanted to thank you personally for organizing together with Maureen et al yet another memorable afternoon. It is always exciting to anticipate who may turn up and to catch up on all the news over the last 5/6 decades. I thought your short films were excellent and look forward to visiting your website to enjoy again.It never ceases to amaze me how, after the school closed in 67, we still have a thriving society of "Old Girls", thanks entirely to yourself and Maureen.I remember my Father saying back in the late 60's that it would inevitably peter out as there was no longer a school to support the "Old Girls Society" How wrong he was. Once again thanks for your tireless efforts in maintaining this wonderful institution, and I look forward to meeting you all again in 2015."
Sally Ivory wrote: " I felt a little apprehensive going at first as I wondered if I would know anyone but I recognised lots of faces and everyone was so pleasant and friendly. I really enjoyed the afternoon."
The two films Gerry mentions lasted 10-minute each, the first being the 2013 lunch party in Hythe celebrating 60 years of SMOGS, and the second being the Centenary lunch at Ward's in Earl's Avenue in 1990. You can view them on this website by clicking on the little box above. Both were edited by Vida Farhad, who unfortunately was too unwell to come, but we are all so grateful to her and her son for spending so much time and skill on the project.
25 attended the tea-party on 11 October at Maureen Raffety's in Horley, Surrey:
Marigold Bassett, Jennifer Bateman, Elizabeth Briscoe-Smith, Jean Bristow, Lydia Dunn, Piers Flashman, Susan Franks, Jenifer Hooper, Sonia Hughes, Vivienne Moncrieff, Anne Morling, Elizabeth Norman, Maureen O'Sullivan, Ruth Page, Susan Pearson-Wood, Sarah Phillips, Maureen Raffety, James Ross (Dudley's son), Rachel Scragg, Carolyn Stevenson, Doreen Stone, Caroline Thomas, Pat Underwood, Marilyn Wood, Eileen Wright.
From Anne Morling (1958):"Dear Caroline, Just to say a very big "thank you" for all your organisation in bringing us all together yesterday. It was great fun catching up with so many, it is such a privilege for us to be able to do it, but if it wasn't for you and Maureen it would be totally impossible. You are fantastic in keeping us all in line and we are VERY grateful for giving us these opportunities with all your hard work. I am now writing a note to Maureen Rafferty - what a fantastic tea she laid on for us and so kind to host us all."
From Jean bristow (1964): "I think it was the best I have attended. I really enjoyed the smaller group than usual as it gave all the various "years" a chance to chat more closely with one another than we normally do, and it was fun to hear about the school memories from people who were in the Senior School while I was still a Junior. Funny how age gaps shrink the older we get!"
Secretary/Webmistress Caroline Thomas and Chairman Maureen O'Sullivan, 2015
To Jennifer's in Sholden, Deal again on 9 October. Only 19 people came, even though there are lots of Girls in Kent. Dudley's son James took Maureen's archives to store and to bring to reunions. It's easier to talk to people with small numbers, but we really do like to see more faces, especially those who have not been to a recent reunion, or indeed any. It was a very happy afternoon. See the photos via the box at the top of this page. Those who came: Marigold Bassett, Jennifer Bateman, Penny Cooke, Piers Flashman, Susan Franks, Margaret Harrison, Johanna Lack, Gillian Lucas, Maureen O'Sullivan, Jenny Radcliffe, Geraldine Richmond, James Ross, Diana Salter, Audrey Taylor, Caroline Thomas, Pat Underwood and Wendy Woolliams.
Twelve Old Girls attended the teaparty at Maureen's house in Barnet on 23 September: Honorary Old Girl James Ross (Dudley's younger son), Jennifer Bateman, Pat Norris, Vida Farhad, Marigold Bassett, Pat Underwood, Susan Collett, Caroline Thomas, Norma Feldwick, Angela King, Verena Amory and our generous hostess Maureen O'Sullivan.
2018 --- a new venue, and 47 Old Girls!
A quick survey by email revealed that lots of you would like to move the reunion to the spring, and that London is the easiest place to get to. So Caroline booked a large room for afternoon tea at the Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria, sent out invitations by email and post, and collected the money from the 50 people wanting to come. On Saturday 14 April we spent a happy afternoon together, and it seemed a popular venue, so we may well go there again one day. Those attending (by O-level year) were:
1948: Wendy Woolliams
1950: Marigold Bassett
1951: Jennifer Bateman, Vida Farhad, Pat Norris, Maureen O'Sullivan
1953: Sonia Joyce
1955: Pat Underwood
1957: Alison Clarke, Margaret Hollis
1959: Susan Bristow, Susan Collett, Parry Ebrahimzadeh, Jane Fulcher, Anne Martin, Rachel Scragg, Caroline Thomas
1960: Elizabeth Anderson, Azar Azmoudeh, Geraldine Bellamy, Christine Heminsgley, Nicola Morling, Jenny Radcliffe, Moya Rouse
1962: June Hollis, Rosalind Pembroke, Lynn Perry, Sally Peters, Joan Williams
1963: Margaret Blunt, Norma Feldwick, Gillian Hayward, Susan Jardine, Angela King, Gillian Lucas
1964: Gillian Chesterman, Jillian Scragg
1966: Elizabeth Ogden, Fiona Phythian, Claire Ross, Susan Silvester
1967: Marilyn Wood
1969: Sally Blaxland, Tina Kingston, Diana Walter, Helen Woodbridge
- - - and James Ross (Dudley Hasson's younger son)