Report Peter Barnett
A trip back in time unlocked magical memories for a group of adult visitors to Chilton Primary School in Ramsgate.
The men and women relived an important part of their childhood at the school that was their home from home from the mid-1970s when it opened.
As they entered the reception area sounds, sights and smells from their past flooded back as they were transported back more than 40 years. Many were moved to tears.
They were amazed to find that the school still retained parts of their past – the wall bars in the hall, a framed tapestry depicting part of nearby Pegwell with the former hoverport site, and the school piano.
As they toured corridors and classrooms the group recalled names of former pupils and teachers and swapped stories of their Chilton life.
Karl Troop, the ‘elder statesman’ of the friends, who hold regular get-togethers, saw the visit from a slightly different perspective. He was a Chilton teacher from 1976 to 1988 and then became the school’s bursar from 1989 to 2000.
He said: “I have enjoyed a long association with Chilton. It is a lovely school and it continues to make excellent progress. It is such a friendly place to be.
“I saw great new teaching methods. It felt so organised and efficient. Kate (Head of School Kate Law) and colleagues made us very welcome, we felt like royalty and the children were so polite.”
The welcoming and caring atmosphere is something that all the visitors remarked upon, as well as the way the school has upgraded and expanded, with so many resources available to help learning.
Sarah Curtis was joined by her sister Liza and their mum Valerie on the walk down memory lane. She said: “It’s hard to find the words to express what I saw and felt today. A huge warmth, love and calm was evident the minute we crossed the threshold of our wonderful school.
“It was truly inspirational to see the massive investment in the lives of small people. A place where the children and their futures come first. We were loved and our talents were nurtured – 40 years on I can see that is still the driving force.”
Her sister Liza added: “The Chilton children a platform on which to develop and achieve their personal best. The leadership and collaboration is at the forefront – everyone is cared for. It was an amazing experience.”
Their mum Valerie added: “The staff and children made us so welcome – the school has a very happy atmosphere and caring feel about it.”
Scott Fleming took along a decorated stone that he recently found at a Margate bowling alley where he plays regularly. It reads ‘Chilton School is the best’.
He added: “I loved my years at Chilton – wonderful teachers, fab out of school events.”
Stuart Atchison said the visit “affected me quite a bit emotionally and bought back a lot of memories. It was great to share the experience with my friends. Today’s school is very different with lots of classes and technology.”
Donna Ellerington was at Chilton from 1981 and currently has her daughter Savannah at the school. She said: “It was lovely seeing the school through Mr Troop’s eyes – he was my teacher in the fourth year. It is an amazing place and I am very lucky and proud my daughter is a pupil here.”
Paula Collins said: “There are so many memories her. I was amazed to see how large the school has got. There are lots of wonderful visuals and aesthetics.”
Russ Pullen described the visit as exciting and emotional and added: “That so many of us are still such great friends more than forty years on is a huge indication of what a wonderful school Chilton was and is today. Fantastic times and a sound basis in academic and personal development.”
Head of School Kate Law said: “It was a real treasure to see Chilton through their eyes as they explored their old school. It was our privilege to welcome them and we hope to see them again soon.”
Chilton Primary is part of the Viking Academy Trust with Upton Junior School, Broadstairs, and Ramsgate Arts Primary.