MSG 2018 Golden Reunion Newsletter (Oct. 2018) 

Welcome to the fourth newsletter for the 2018 Reunion .

The Reunion

Well the MSG 2018 Reunion finally happened. After 3 years of preparations and concern whether we would be thwarted yet again in the last few weeks with another venue fire as in the 2008 Reunion, when the then Kings Head caught fire and everything was switched to the Masonic Hall in Darlington in the last three weeks, all proved to be unfounded.

Some of us made the journey to Darlington on the Thursday the 27th of September and booked into the Mercure Darlington Kings Hotel which had been refurbished after the fire of 2008, and made preparations for the Reunion Working Party meeting on the Friday morning at 11 am in the hotel bar. This was to review and check on last minute arrangements. After the meeting, over 170 welcome and registration envelopes were stuffed with name badges,  commemorative pens and a welcome sheet whilst others brought up to the ballroom the display boards and memorabilia items, photos, albums and ballroom decorations ready for the Saturday morning.

At 3 pm. ex-students started to arrive for the first event which was the Friday afternoon tea, coffee and biscuits session in the ballroom at 3 pm. Registration and mug and coaster selling began in earnest so that there wouldn't be too much to do on the Saturday when everyone would be arriving. About 25 arrived for this first meeting and greeting and the name badges and commemorative pens in the college colours were revealed. As it was MacMillan Charity Day, the hotel chef provided mouth-watering cakes to purchase with a donation box. This was on top of our tea, coffee and biscuits.

By 5 pm everyone started to disperse in order to prepare for the Friday evening drinks session in the ballroom. The Working Party and some friends went off to one of the several Darlington alleyways to an Indian restaurant for a meal before returning to meet and greet the attendees for the evening rendezvous in the hotel. Over 50 attended this session with the ballroom set out with round tables. Again attendees were registered in with their name badges and pens. It was an enjoyable evening with myself meeting up with Tom Jackson whom I hadn't seen for 46 years and a surprise, as he was supposed to be coming the following day. Tom and I were in digs together in our second year in Middleton-One-Row.

The following morning was busy with helpers led by Sue in the ballroom from 9 am, blowing up balloons, sticking up 50th bunting and Pat Cook climbing ladders held by Geoff Berriman and myself, to attach the MSG banners. Pat and John were also busy in the adjoining room setting out the memorabilia displays, photos and albums.The final touches were made with table decorations and the star sprinkles on the table cloths. By 2 pm all was ready for the big reception with 162 attending and Kenny Wilson playing superb live music on his electric guitar. I must point out that the volunteers for the evening's Open Mic session had been practising in the morning during the decorating. 

The afternoon went extremely well with Kevin Mahon setting up a Skype session with Roland Evans who could not attend and various folk going into another bar area to converse with him. He seemed in good sorts and energetically kept up conversations with quite a number of people for well over half an hour. Kenny kept playing as people rekindled old acquaintances and also visited the memorabilia room to scan the many photos. As the afternoon progressed people started to leave at about 5 pm to get ready for the evening meal and disco. The hotel staff came in to reassemble the tables and set out the cutlery and wine glasses.

At 7 pm people gathered for the evening and by 8 pm started queuing for the delicious buffet of Cottage Pie with Cheddar cheese, Chicken A La King and Vegetable Tagine. This was followed by Sticky Toffee Pudding, Eton Mess and Chocolate Torte. As the food finished and I had given a short welcome speech, the volunteers Kevin Mahon, Dave Pass, Josette Growden (Knowles), Fionna Campbell, Kenny Wilson, Antoine Bowes, Gerald Twomey and Geoff Spooner got ready for the Open Mic session. All played and sang with great gusto and had rapturous applause. The disco then sprang into full volume and the floor was packed with very fit 60-70 year olds. The House of the Rising Sun emptied the floor but Rod Stewart and Maggie May brought everyone back again.  By the end of the evening many were asking for another reunion but that is left for the future.

The following morning after MSG folk had packed the breakfast room, over 60 of us arrived at the old college site organised once again by Andrew Henry. What was evident was how the site had changed since 2008. The blocks around the old football and hockey pitch outside the students union had been demolished. We, still in our groups managed to access most of the site and were able to see that the old lecture hall for year lectures on Wednesdays, was still there. At the end we made our way back to the hotel where about 30 of us enjoyed a delicious Sunday lunch before dispersing.

The Reunion I would say was a great success although some people had problems with hotel rooms being double-booked and having being sent to the Premier Inn and other hostels. These incidents unfortunately were beyond our control as a Working Party.

When will the next Reunion be? Well the younger ex-students may want to organise a Diamond one but undoubtedly there will be less of us available even if we came on mobility scooters.

Finally a huge thank you to all the members of the Working Party, Pat, John, Sue, Gretta, Kevin and Andrew and the hotel staff, particularly Kelly Holland the Events Manager who helped us all with the hotel details.

On behalf of the Working Party may I thank you all for giving the Reunion such huge support and without you it would not have happened.

Kind regards

Mike Cooke

In Fond Memory

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ken Fairless a popular History lecturer, in 2018. Ken worked at MSG fron 1970 to 1979. s Our sincere condolences go out to his family.

We also hear that Rosemary Baker a very popular lecturer in education passed away on 18th May 2018 this year. Rosemary attended both the 2006 and 2008 MSG Reunions and will be sadly missed. Our thoughts go out to all her family and friends. 

Also Robert Thornhill History & Art 1968-72 BEd. died in September 2018 with his family and friends at his side. Our thoughts are with them at this time.

John Beeston English, has sadly passed away on 4th November 2018. Our thoughts go out to his family.

On behalf of the Working Party, may I wish you a very happy 2018/2019.

Mike Cooke


It is with deep sadness that we list below the names of fellow students and members of staff who have passed away since the college closed in 1979.

Students Year  Intake  1968-71 - Alan Ashley RE (2004), Barry Brogden Physics (2002), Joyce Gotts (1980), Ernest Harrison Physics (1979), Nadine Peacock Music (2007), Doreen Pearson History, Barbara Stone (McCollum) English (2007), Francis Warminger English (2000), Roger Whiteley RE, Jeannie Stubbs RE (Oct 2011), Jackie Parker (was Conway) Geog (Dec 2012), Patricia Ann Stevens (became Stinson) (1999), Anne Mullender Drama (2014), Jane McCarthy Drama (nee Worts) (12th Jan 2016) Robert Guy Thornhill BEd in History & Art (September 2018)

1969-72 - Clive Ackery Drama (1991), Marjorie Bates PE (2008), Peter Casey Drama (2014), Richie Close Music (1990), Terence Leese History (1976), Michael Roberts Biology (2010), Mervyn Whitaker Biology (Dec 2015).

1970-73 - Adrian Caddy Drama, Bernard Johnson Drama, Mary Kerr History (2005), Christopher Mears Art, Alan Parker Art, Marie Stebbing Art, Gerry Sayer PE (Nov 2015), John Verity English (2014), Carol M Fuller nee Suttling, Maths (April 2017), John Beeston, English (Nov 4th 2018)

1971-74 - Liz Offen English (2013), Derek Milton Hist & Geog (March 2010), Christopher Morgan RE ( April 20 2010), Stephen Parsloe Art (Dec 2004), David Radcliffe PE (July 2010), Valerie Roddam English (2005), Wanda Tabala Geog (Sept 2006), John Williams English (2013), Les Rutter Art (2013), Eric Drake History (7 Dec 2015).

1972-75 - Sean McManus (subject?), Christopher Watts Biology, Norma Pendington (nee Sandford) (subject?) 

1973-76 - Margaret Checkley Biology (2011), Shirley Robson History (2015) , Brian Richardson History (studied until 1977), died 2016 

1974-77 - Joan Ganderton Geog (1980), Thomas Grey/Gray PE (2003), Phillip Butterworth Art ( 9th March 2014).

1975-78 - Stephen Bennett Geog, Mike Hook PE (2004), 1975-79 -June Kemel, (nee Tiffin) (Sum 2017)

1976-79 - Val Barnes RSS (2000's), John Freeman PE (1980's)

MSG Teaching Staff - 

Gordon Ashley Education, Ray Baxter Education (April 2008), Edward L Black (Principal) (2005), Dennis Coggins History, Pauline Dalton History, Barbara Fossey Geog, PC Hall and Charles Fox (c. 2012) both Physical Sciences, Bob Hardisty Head of PE (1986 aged 65), Ken Gorman Art (2014), Dr James Harper Biology (2006), Olive Hastings PE (2008), Ken Hawkesworth Drama, Howard Jones History, David Marno Drama, Jillian Pedlar PE, John Rhoden French, R Spencer Education (1970's), Paul Turner Maths, Philip Venitt Drama (2004), Rev. Dr John Wall (Head of RE) (Nov 2012), John Watson Drama, Paul Hastings (Head of History and Husband of Olive) (2016), Geoff Austwick (Head of Maths and later Deputy Principal - 1979 (Oct 2015), John Wickersham (PE) 75-79 (Dec. 2015), Ken Fairless History (2018), Rosemary Baker - Education (18th May 2018)

Administration & Ancillary Staff -

Mary Birdsall, Domestic Assistant, Helen Robbins, Assistant Domestic Supervisor, Lynn Robson Receptionist, Derek Severn, Senior Administration Officer (March 2012), Eric Tinkler, Porter, Amy Waite, Senior Administration Officer.