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WISBECH: Evacuees return to Grammar School

Unveiling of commemoration plaques at the Wisbech Grammar School
John Robinson and Harry Spinks

Unveiling of commemoration plaques at the Wisbech Grammar School John Robinson and Harry Spinks

This year’s Remembrance event at Wisbech Grammar School was particularly poignant for two men who were evacuated to Wisbech during World War II.

Harry Spinks and John Robinson were teenagers when they were among 252 pupils and 26 staff sent from the Stationer’s Company School in Hornsey, London.

Billeted in the Fenland town with families and organisations, such as the Salvation Army, the children were taught at the Grammar School, which was then on South Brink.

The pensioners were at the Grammar School today (Friday) to see a commemorative plaque put up in the school in memory of the evacuees.

Headteacher Nicholas Hammond said: “As Remembrance becomes a national preoccupation, it is great we’ve got the opportunity to connect with these gentlemen, who can tell us what is was like for them.”

“I have pleasant memories of Wisbech,” Mr Spinks (88) said. He spent a year in the town from 1939. “They tried to keep things as normal as possible for us.”

Mr Robinson (87) spent three school years at the Grammar, from 1939 to 1942. Ironically, he said he missed the countryside while living in Wisbech as he lived near parks and woodland in London and here, everything was cultivated.

He added: “Cycling was an experience. Instead of hills, we had head winds. We cycled everywhere.”

Coincidentally, Mr Robinson’s wife Celia attended the Wisbech High School for Girls, which joined with the Grammar in 1970. They met when Mr Robinson was billeted with a family member and he joked they “shared a double cheese ration”.

Mrs Robinson said many features in the school were still the same.

John and Jan Dockerty also visited Wisbech Grammar School today to see a plaque erected in memory of their son.

Major Christopher Dockerty, a former Grammar School pupil, died on June 2, 1994 in a Chinook helicopter crash in Northern Ireland.

The couple said they were “very touched” by the gesture and it was a “very proud moment” to think that the school is remembering him in this way.

Major Dockerty had a very promising career in the Army after transferring from the Navy and his father said he was “destined for much higher achievements” before his life was cut short at the age of 32.

Mrs Dockerty added that their son was very influenced by the school and much of what he achieved was a result of his education.

 

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