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NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 26 July 2012

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1956-1963

I went back to Founders Day this year after a gap of over twenty five years, the time I have been in Wiltshire after leaving Welwyn Garden City.  I have meant to before but I was a little put off by the last time I went when all the emphasis then was on the Friends of the School (parents etc) and where I did not see any old fellow OEs or masters I had known.  In the church service there was only one OE a lot older than me who had also been school captain, Alan Spence.  This was beside it clashing with our local Chute Fete on the same day.  This year was different.  There was an OE reception with food and drink in the school hall and I enjoyed talking with many OEs there about the old days even though most were older than me.  The Friends of the School Fete was still there but the old style cricket match School v OES was revived on the Third Field at the back.

My wife and I were welcomed at the church by one of the Assistant Heads, David Ryan, who showed us to the guest section for OE attendees.  There were several OEs there as well as other guests such as parents and OE parents but there is space for more. We enjoyed the same traditional hymns as in my schooldays but also the additions such as the choral works by a very large school and special school choir.  The teachers were there in abundance including many lady teachers now.  There seemed a lot more teachers altogether than my day but I stand to be corrected if wrong.

David Ryan kindly also spoke with us back in the school hall after the address to the school by the headmaster.  We asked many questions about the changes since my day, which were answered in great detail.  There is also a school museum with items from the older days, which may be shown to visitors accompanied by a prefect.  Prefects and a school captain still continue at least.  A visit next year on the third Saturday in June is recommended to other OEs after notifying the headmaster's secretary at the school, if attending the church.  There are a lot of pupils of different ethnic background to what we had in my day.  Apparently many travel from far away in London by several means of transport to attend.


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