Association gives chance to meet old school friends

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SCHOOL days are said to be the best days or your life - that may not be true for everyone - but they are certainly memorable.

They are a time not only for learning, but for growing up, and for forging friendships.

Some of these friendships will endure over the years, while others will fall by the wayside as people move on with their lives.

But that doesn’t mean those old school friends are forgotten, and that is where organisations such as the March Grammar and Neale-Wade Former Students Association comes in.

The association, which was founded in 1919 as the March Grammar School Old Boys Association, holds an annual reunion dinner, which gives old school friends an opportunity to meet up.

The meal, which is held around Easter time, is attended by a hard-core of around 50 former pupils from both March Grammar School and the Neale-Wade Community College.

Former Neale-Wade pupils were allowed to join when the association voted in 2007 to change its name to encompass the college. The idea was to encourage the younger generation to attend in a bid to ensure the association’s future.

Membership is free - although members do have to pay for the annual meal.

The dinner is a time for talking over old times and catching up with the present and of course meeting up with those old school friends.

The Annual General Meeting of the Association is held on the same evening as the Annual Reunion Dinner, and any member of the Association can attend and vote. Each year, a former student or master is invited to become President of the Association, and his Presidency is approved at this Meeting.

For many years, the dinner was held in the gymnasium of the Grammar School, which is now the Community Education Centre in Station Road, March.

Unfortunately, owing to circumstances beyond the Association’s control (catering and health regulations), it is no longer possible to hold dinners at this venue, and they are now held in the hall at the Neale-Wade Community College in Wimblington Road.

The Association is a registered charity, except for the financial arrangements for the annual dinner; these are separate and not eligible for charity status.

In 1994/95, the Committee decided that they would like to mark the founding of the Grammar School in 1696 and launched the Tercentary Appeal. The funds raised during the Appeal were subsequently transferred to a registered charitable trust, which is run by a board of Trustees.

The Trust administers the granting of bursaries each year to enable present Neale-Wade students to pursue a project or acquire equipment/expertise to further their chosen career. In 2009, the Trust granted bursaries totalling £500, and propose the grant of further bursaries in 2011.

This year’s dinner is on April 1 and anyone who would like to attend should contact the association’s secretary, Michael Wilding on 01733-202071 or email: michael@mwilding.plus.com.

It doesn’t matter how long ago or how recently you left school, you will be welcomed by the existing members, who have the motto ‘the more the merrier’.