THEY WERE HAPPY DAYS

THREE centuries of education in Thorne were celebrated at a reunion which brought together old school friends from decades past in the town's newest place of learning.

Trinity Academy, which opened three weeks ago, hosted a celebration to mark the 300th anniversary of the Brooke's Trust and the 75th anniversary of Thorne Grammar School.

Guests came from Australia, America and around the corner to renew acquaintances, to meet up with classmates and to share memories of their old school dating back as far as the 1930s.

The current generation of students, from Year Seven and the Sixth Form at Trinity Academy, performed a guard of honour for the rededication by the Venerable Bernard Holdridge of the war memorial, which was moved from the grammar school to the academy.

The students also acted as the guests' hosts for the afternoon, taking them on guided tours of the academy.

Heather Lyon (nee Overton), who was a pupil at the grammar school from 1943-1951 and later taught PE there, travelled from her home in Canada.

"I came back specially for the reunion. When I heard about it and thought 'I've got to go."

Other former pupils who travelled from around the globe to attend included Barbara Rothwell (nee Timmins) and John Skelton from the US, Margaret Morrin (nee Barron) from New Zealand and Matt Blackham from Australia.

Some old boys and girls took along souvenirs of their time at the grammar school - Les Watson unearthed his old rugby shirt, Eddie Cooper found his old school cap and Mavis Butterworth (Stanley) found her blazer was still a perfect fit.

At the event, which began in the academy's lecture theatre, 360 guests sang the hymn Lord, Behold us with Thy Blessing, with which students began each new term at the grammar school.

Former deputy headteacher James Lawson, 90, gave a history of education in Thorne and Moorends beginning in 1705 when William Brooke agreed to provide a school room where ten poor boys would be taught for free in addition to fee-paying pupils.

In the 1860s, headmaster John Constable introduced the school uniform, a house system and out of school activities, traditions which the academy follows today.

By the 1920s, mining dramatically increased the local population. Headmaster JE Shipley Turner "built up an outstandingly good school with a record to be envied", said Mr Lawson, who has written a book recording the history of education in Thorne.

The reunion, which took three years to organise through a website managed by Keith Williams, who also launched the Thorne Grammar School Alumni Fund, which will be used to provide an annual award and prizes across all disciplines for Trinity Academy students.

An award was presented by Sir Graham Hall (a pupil of 1954-59 - now chief executive of Yorkshire Electricity Group plc and inaugural chairman of Yorkshire Forward) to Victoria Gibbons, who achieved the school's best AS level results thiis summer.

Mr Hall said: "This is a vital moment in time for this school, for us as past pupils and for those who are yet to enjoy it, linking our history and future."

After the speeches, all the guests were served dinner in the academy's main hall.

Principal Ian Brew said: "The academy is new and modern but we consider ourselves as part of a proud tradition stretching back 300 years in Thorne. We are delighted to host the the reunion and anniversary celebrations which were a wonderful joining together of the past and present."

• James Lawson will donate proceeds from the sale of his book, Teacher's Tales, to the TGS Alumni Fund. Copies can be obtained from http://groups.msn.com/thornegrammarschool