50th Anniversary Celebrations

In 1965 the school moved from the old Parish Hall on Church Street to its new site on Kepple Lane. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the school on this site and we  celebrated this anniversary with a day of special events on Friday 19th June.

 On the 19th June we  welcomed former pupils to visit and see the work produced by our current classes, to watch the unveiling of our new sculptures and to enjoy  performances from the children in a huge marquee in the school playground . We held a picnic for our current pupils and our new starters for September 2015, at lunchtime with barbecue food and fruit smoothies made with a teacher powered smoothie bike!

After school, there were stalls and activities including one provided by Garstang Rotary Club who are also celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. The event culminated in performances by the children and a disco in the marquee.Our music teacher Mrs Marion Gaughan ,created a school song especially for the event. The video below shows the children rehearsing in the marquee on the morning of the event. Below that are some of the 600+ photos taken during rehearsals and the event in 3 photo stories.

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to and came along to June 19th's anniversary celebrations. It was lovely to see so many people in school enjoying themselves and reminiscing.  The children’s performances went very well and the school and the grounds looked wonderful with the new sculptures unveiled. To those of you who had other commitments and were unable to make it on the day, we would still be happy to show you around if you would like to contact us to arrange a convenient date. 

It was a very busy day for staff and children but we all enjoyed it immensely and hope that you did too.The commemorative notebooks and bags are still available to buy at the school office if anyone would like a permanent reminder of the day.

 Before the event our Year 5 class had been looking at what life was like in 1965 in Garstang and beyond and  produced some great work some of which is pictured below. The school is very proud of its family links, with several children whose parents also attended the school, and even members of staff who were pupils here.

One of the children who buried the time capsule back in 1965 has been in touch with the school and sent us the newspaper articles from the Lancashire Evening Post and the Garstang Courier covering the event. Anne Bridge, or Anne Mason as she is now, is now a secondary school teacher living in Peterborough. She came to the celebrations in June and helped us by unveiling the new sculptures. Pictured below, Anne and fellow pupil Keith Pye bury the time capsule.

Anne also sent us this photo of her brother Andrew's class a couple of years later, in 1967 (??). He is third from the left on the middle row. The picture also shows Mr Grange, the head teacher and Miss Lewis the class teacher.

We  also heard from the other pupil who helped lay the time capsule, Keith Pye. Now living in Cheshire, Mr Pye has sent us the following three pictures, one of him and Anne laying the time capsule and then after the 50th celebration, which both Anne and he attended, he sent us this photo of himself and Anne recreating their original poses 50 years on!  The last one isof a group of children outside Elmhurst (next to Garstang Community Academy). Some of the older children from St Thomas' were taught at Elmhurst before the new school was built, as there wasn't room in the old school. These children were the first to wear a St Thomas' school uniform, which was optional when it was first introduced in about 1963. Keith is on the far right of the kneeling row. Keith joined Anne as our guests of honour, unveling the sculptures in the school grounds on 19th June.

Other former pupils have been getting in touch and sharing their memories from their school days:

Doreen Lyon

A former pupil at the old school building, Doreen emigrated as an adult and has been in touch from Australia:

" I came to have a look at the old school last year. What a sad and sorry place it looks! And so small!! I remember the playground was coal dust or something and we used to play ‘house’ by scratching out the rooms in the dirt! Some of the games we played were; farmer's in his den, the good ship sails on the alley alley oh and skipping with long ropes. Teachers included Miss Muncaster and Mr Austin and a lady who told me to paint my horse purple! I remember the infant room and the smell of chalk and ink and learning to count with cowrie shells and dollies and books – loved the books. Mr Austin had a ring with a big stone which he used to punctuate his observations on the back of my head! Pay Attention ! I think I may have been one of the last students to actually walk in crocodile from the school up to the old grammar school (now the Art Society) where we were actually taught laundry using flat irons, mangles and dolly tubs!!

I travelled to school from Castle Farm on my little blue bike whatever the weather. I remember school dinners being horrible and being allowed to go to my Aunt Janet’s place across the road for my lunch and sometimes buying a meat and potato pie from a shop next to my Uncle George Fowler’s butcher shop!

My friends were Joan, Shirley, Anna and Frieda and I had a crush on the policeman’s son John!

I left to go to Lancaster grammar and then to Blackpool Arts School, married a student from Winmarleigh College and emigrated  to Australia with him and our two girls in 1973. The picture is us, Ben, Fiona, Kate & Me on the central coast at Christmas 2014"

Elaine Cook (nee Cross)

Elaine was one of the first pupils at the new school in 1965. She was thinking that she would go up to "the big school " at  Elmhurst (next to Garstang Academy and now houses) and was quite disappointed to be staying with the younger children in the new building! She contributed to the  1965 time capsule which is buried in the school entrance.  Elaine's family has a long history with the school, her dad Reg Cross was a pupil at the old building, her mum Nancy was caretaker at the current site for thirty years and as an adult Elaine was also a dinner lady here for 20 years. Her sons Alan and Graham both came to St Thomas' and Alan's daughters are now pupils here. In 1965 Elaine was the Rose Queen and is pictured below with her retinue! She is also on the school photos with the rest of her class from 1965  and her class teacher Miss West   ( Elaine is front row, far left). Does anyone recognise any of the other children?

Kerry Murphy (nee Dagger)

Kerry's mum was one of the original pupils in 1965 and her gran was a dinner lady. Kerry started in Reception in September 1984.  Her daughter is now in Year 5 and her son in Year 1 .She tells us "things were a little different back then. My head teacher was called Mr Heaton. We started school at 9am and had assembly every morning. We didn't have carpets in our classroom. We had wooden desks and chairs and we had huge chalkboards that the teacher would write on.

The only homework we got was raeding, spelling and times tables.

My favourite class was class 2 (we called it infant 3). My teacher was called Mrs Braithwaite and she was a very kind lady. We had a huge dressing up box in her classroom which we would play with on a Friday afternoon. In the summer we would roll down the big hill and make nests from all the cut grass. I also enjoyed a school trip to Tower Wood when I was in Year 6 (we called it Junior 4).

At the end of the day the infants would finish at 3pm and the juniors would finish at 3.30pm. Our parents didn't wait for us on the yard. They would wait at the main gate at the front of school. I really enjoyed my time at Garstang St Thomas'. "

Simon & Sarah-Jane Heath (now Hambleton)

The pictures below shows brother and sister Simon and Sarah-Jane Heath (centre picture), in their school photo from 1978 alongside more up to date pictures (Simon and his wife Rachel on the left and Sarah - Jane and her husband, another Simon on the right). Both Simon and Sarah-Jane are now doctors. Sarah-Jane's son is now a  pupil at the school. Sarah-Jane's husband Simon generously gave up his time all day on Friday 19th to photograph the whole event. His photos will be on the website soon.

Lee Baker

Mr Baker, our PE coach and TA, was once a pupil at this school. Can you spot him on the picture below? (3rd from left on the back row). While looking through files for his school photo we also found a letter his dad wrote in 1997! Reading the letter (extract below), it could almost have been written by our Mr Baker now - showing how proud he is of our teams and how well they do! Its lovely that we can see he is carrying on a family tradition; hopefully in a few years his own children will be adding a third generation of Baker family St Thomas' footballers!

"I thought I would write you a few words on behalf of Mr Thompson and myself to let you know how the football went at the Catterall Gala. The Saint Thomas' team was represented by Lee B, Robert, John, Neil, Ryan, Sarah, Lee K and Christopher.

The contest was done on a league basis with the top two teams playing in the final. The teams were St Thomas', Kirkland, Garstang 11s, Moss Lane and Claughton. All the teams played each other and St Thomas' won every one of their games. So the final was between St Thomas' and Garstang 11s. It was 2-0 at half time to us but Garstang pulled it back to 2-2 at full time. At extra time it was still 2-2 but St Thomas' won the game on penalties with the last shot.

Thank you for letting John's father and myself be in charge we really enjoyed ourselves. Every one of the 8 team members played at sometime during the competition and were all a credit to the school with good sportsmanship and handshakes after every match. Lee B even made a speech at the presentation thanking the gala committee for inviting the school etc."

The Armstrong Family

The Armstrong family, who have two children in the school now have kindly raided their family photo albums and records to provide us with photos from the 60s, 70s and 80s. They have also brought us two examples of 1960s school reports and a fabulous, Garstang St Thomas' school cap. Mrs Joanne Armstrong, nee Topping has even provided us with a full class list for the 1987 picture (far right). They are from back left, Jeffrey Rawcliff, Philip Kendal, Philip Elishaw, Neil Smith, James Gibson, Nigel Campbell, Richard Daniels, Alan Holmes, Mark Harty, Peter Watson, John-Eric Back, Graham Moore, Robert Willcock, Peter Haslam, Carrie Backer, Karley Matthews, Jayne Armistead, Lorraine Gee, Lynn Green, Andrew Coleran, Lucy Jones, Joanne Topping, Claire Alston, Hayley Dodd, Susan Danson, Helen Herbert, Clare Metcalf, Carrie Bevan, Kathy Taylor, Sarah Polton.

Mrs Procter Interview by Olivia & Annabel Year 6

Year Six pupils Olivia and Annabel interviewed former head teacher Mrs Angela Procter about her time at Garstang St Thomas'. Mrs Procter was head from 2000-2005 and is now on the board of governors.Some of the questions can be heard by clicking on the link below, or you can read a synopsis of the questions further down the page.


Our biggest class has 31 children in it, how many children were in your classes?

It varied, the smallest class only had 16 children in it and the largest class had more than 30 children.

Usually school starts at 8.50am and finishes at 3pm (for infants) and 3.10pm (for juniors), has that always been the same?

It was 8.55am for register and the whistle went at 8.50am.

When you were here was sports day different to what it is now?

The first year it was but all the other years it was the same and relaxed but we've always had parents come to watch.

If you had the opportunity to be a headteacher again would you take it?

I would if I was younger as it is a hard job for me to take on again.

We are planning to change the school uniform, was the uniform any different when you were head?

No, it was exactly the same but  it is very good to update the uniform.

Why did you want to be a head teacher at St Thomas'?

I wanted to be a head teacher because when I came to look round here I was shown round by a Year 6 girl and a Year 6 boy and I was really impressed.

If you hadn't been a head teacher what would you have been and why?

I wanted to be a head teacher when I was little so I don't know what I else I would pick because I was dreaming of doing this job.

Are there any decisions you made for the school that you regret?

I was pleased when we built the children's centre but I don't regret anything. I was also pleased when we got a new roof, new floor, windows and doors.

Do you remember any of the trophies that we have now?

I remember the trophies for football and athletics.

Are there any teachers that were here when you were head? If so who?

When I arrived there was Mrs Stewart, Mrs Dugdale, Mrs Reynolds, Mrs Pearson, Mrs Burke &  Mrs Hayton. I helped appoint Mrs Bosson, Mrs Gaughan, Mrs Wilson, Miss Alston, Mr Marle, Mrs Westwood, Mrs Hart and Mr Baker.

Interview with Mr Neville Heaton by Joe & Oliver Year 6

Interview with Mr Neville Heaton by Joe & Oliver in Year 6

Mr Heaton was Head teacher at St Thomas’ before Mrs Procter and Mr Vickers. His favourite play performed by the children was called “Jerusalem Joy”.

The school uniform is still the same as it was when he was head teacher (– for the time being only! September will see a change to our uniform).

His best moment was when he was appointed.

There were no gardens but he planted wild flowers in the wetland area.

On sports day, the children played against other schools and there were no parent-teacher races.

The children went to Tower Wood for the first time when Mr Heaton was head teacher and were the first Garstang school to do so.

Mr Heaton said he had never dreamed of being a head teacher and that his family were bakers in Lancaster. He came to Garstang because a job here was advertised and he liked the community. When he was head he had 265 pupils one year (before Community Primary opened).

Two of his most memorable moments were when a small fire broke out in the Year 3/4 cloakroom and he put it out with a fire extinguisher but the fire brigade still had to come and when a boy (not a pupil at our school!) broke in to the school through one of the skylights on the roof but then couldn’t get out again as the classroom doors were all locked. His friends had to go and tell his dad that his son was stuck in the school!

They went on school trips by coach, like we do now but when they went to Butlins the driver tagged along!