Talking about my generation

Over the years the Guardian’s nostalgia has carried a number of Heckmondwike Grammar School class photos, and as we have recently been focussing on the 1970s, reader Richard Lea decided to send a couple of his own from that decade.

Friday, 1st March 2013, 3:05 pm
The class of 1970 at Heckmondwike Grammar.

The black and white photo depicts the HGS Class of 1970, form 1A.

Richard recalled: “On the back row from the left are John R Wood, John Berry, Andrew Bolt, Steven Wood, Marc Henderson (ok, it’s really ‘Mark’, but he was a T Rex fan!), Philip Meer, John Scott, RVL (looking apprehensive, as well he might), Ian Brooke, Martyn Harsley, Barry R Clarke.

“The middle row are Angela Gale, ?, Susan Horsman, ?, Stephen Tiffany, Christopher Sturgeon, ?, Elizabeth Roebuck, Christine Byram, Jill Holdershaw and on the front are Marion Kirk, Linda Milner, Yvonne Scaife, Claire Smith, ?, Miss Binns, Julie Longworth, Sally Halmshaw, Karen Styles, Catherine Netherwood, ?.

The Upper Sixth at Heckmondwike Grammar in 1976.

“Everyone looks much happier on the colour photo (6th Upper Science, September 1976), presumably because they know they will all be leaving shortly!”

On the back row, from the left are Andrew Bolt, John Wood, Paul Hartwell, Martyn Harsley, Ian Brooke, RVL, Gary Nalson, Mike Todd. Middle row, Joyce Storey, Angela Gale, Gordon Teale, Elizabeth Roebuck, Philip Stanley, Jill Holdershaw, Christine Byram. Front: Joanna Shaw, Yvonne Scaife, Gillian Rayner, Susan Horsman, Mr Mellors, Janet Burnell, ?, ?, Linda Milner.

Richard still has fond memories of his classmates.

“Chris Sturgeon was a gentle giant who got a lot of stick for being a devout Jehovah’s Witness,” he recalled.

“Paul Hartwell had a gift for spontaneous one-liners, many of which I still remember. The best was when our A-level physics teacher, Tony Couch, was talking about the fact that the man-made transuranic elements tend to be named after famous scientists – mendelevium, einsteinium and so on – Paul (sotto voce): ‘Frankensteinium’!

“John Wood was a science and classic rock aficionado who once bought a pair of tickets for a Be-Bop Deluxe gig in Bradford and then discovered the Sensational Alex Harvey Band was playing in Leeds the same night. Obviously he couldn’t be in two places at the same time (although with a physics and geology degree he may now be working on it), so he and his girlfriend attended the SAHB gig and they passed the Be-Bop tickets on to myself and a friend – the kindest thing anyone did for me during my time at HGS.” So where are they now? “John Wood is now a geologist in the petrochemical industry and lives in Houston, Texas. Martyn Harsley also ended up in Houston and lives less than a mile from John – small world!” said Richard.

“Gordon Teale and John Berry joined the police (not the group – the Force), while John Scott went into the fire service. Barry R Clarke is now an internationally respected Oxford maths lecturer, and remains one of my best friends to this day.

“I’m now a computer expert working in the charitable sector, and loving every minute of it. But Chris Sturgeon went the furthest of any of us ... In fact he went to Australia, which is as far as you can possibly get from HGS without leaving the Earth altogether.

“Also in our year were Gary Briggs, who went on to become a professional footballer for Oxford United, and Steve ‘Spud’ Taylor, who fronted a band called Beware The Dog in the early 1980s.”