A FORMER Puddletown school pupil has retraced her steps as part of her old school’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Fifty years ago, Jenny Dabbs was the lucky teenager chosen to present a bouquet of red roses to Princess Margaret at the opening of Puddletown Modern School.

Half a century later, Jenny came back to the school, now known as St Mary’s Middle School, to share her memories of the event and receive her own surprise bouquet.

At the time of the school’s opening, Jenny was only one of nine fifth form pupils at the school.

Staff at the school were keen to find Jenny to make her a part of the anniversary celebrations.

One of the event’s organisers, who wished to remain nameless, said: “She found out through a pupil of the school.

“We knew she was around because there are quite a large number of ex-pupils that still live in the area. Someone had said she was still around.

“She met with four pupils from the school and she talked about what her school life was like. They asked her questions and she asked them questions.

“She spent a long time walking around the school noticing how much bigger it was.”

Noting the school’s computers, Jenny said: “We had none of this – just blackboard and chalk. But we did have a teacher who came from Weymouth to teach us shorthand and typing on big Olympic typewriters.”

The highlight of Jenny’s visit was a surprise screening of a film taken on the day of the school’s opening, a film she had never seen before.

She said: “It never did get shown on TV. It’s lovely to see it now.”

On top of this visit, the school also welcomed back many of its other former pupils to explore the site and enjoy a barbecue.

As part of a special presentation last week (03/07), each year group were tasked to put on a performance related to each decade the school had been open.

This week (beginning 06/07) a time capsule will be buried on site including items students believe represent the year 2015. Instructions will be set so that it isn’t opened again for another 50 years.

Mike Hilborne, acting headmaster, said: “It really is a community school and a good point (in time) for reflection.

“It’s been really, really positive. We have had people who have met up with people from their time at school. We’ve had people who have come in and looked at the school differently.

“They have had a chance to see the changes have gone on since their time here.”


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