School reunion marks end of an era

A Garston school which opened in 1955 will close its doors in just over two weeks time and re-open as a one of Hertfordshire’s first academies in September.

Francis Combe School in Horseshoe Lane will celebrate 54 years by hosting a reunion for former pupils and staff on Friday July 17.

Among the many stars that have attended the school are actor Bradley Walsh and former Arsenal player Kelly Smith.

Ex-pupil and former England cricketer Mark Ilott will be joining hundreds of people at the reunion to celebrate the school’s achievements.

Mark, 38, said: "Francis Combe supported my cricket career. The teachers never held me back.

"The reunion is going to be fantastic. We'll be able to see how much hair everyone has lost and how much weight people have gained! Everyone will be there. It's going to be a fab night."

A school band will provide live music for the evening and an exhibition of past photos, films of leavers’ dinners, events and productions will be on display.

There will also be a last opportunity for visitors to walk and reminisce through corridors of past, as new ones will be put up from September 2009.

Anthony Taylor, who began teaching at the school in 1976, said: “When I started teaching at Francis Combe School 33 long years ago I never imagined I would still be here now at the age of 59. I often ask myself what it is that kept me from moving on, and many reasons come to mind.

“Francis Combe is a school with a beating heart where children are inspired and developed while feeling valued and safe.”

The new academy will be a non-selective school, serving more than 1,000 11-16 year olds and up to 300 Sixth Formers. It will be sponsored by West Herts College and the University of Hertfordshire, and specialize in English, art and media.

Deputy Headteacher Deborah Warwick-Wilson said: “We are continuing to see the school evolve and be a place which motivates and inspires all learners and we are looking forward to becoming an academy in September.”

Tickets are still available for the reunion. For more information contact the school directly on 01923 672964.

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