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Cockermouth Post Article May 2015 – Schooldays revisited

As well as preparing for our summer exhibition in August, the Heritage Group is planning a day in June when people can relive their Cockermouth school-days. We plan to have a large photographic display relating to schools in Cockermouth, including the old All Saints’ School (now the Kirkgate Centre), Fairfield School, Cockermouth Grammar School, Derwent School, St Joseph’s School, and possibly others, space permitting. The display from Cockermouth Grammar School will include framed sports team photographs, rescued at the time of the school’s closure, and many photographic albums compiled by the late and much-loved Marjorie Southgate, a teacher (along with her husband Jock) at the Grammar School for many years. The purpose of this special day is to bring people together in a community event, during which we hope that many people will be willing to share memories of their schooldays, whether this be via jottings on ‘post-it’ notes, naming friends on photographs, writing down accounts, or perhaps agreeing to talk to a member of the group at a later date in their own homes about their schooldays.

The date for this event, ‘Schooldays Revisited’, will be at the Kirkgate Centre on Saturday, 13th June and will run from 10 – 4 (no admission charge). Refreshments will be provided in the form of tea and coffee, as well as biscuits and cake, so people can reminisce to their hearts’ content. Please tell all your friends about this event and encourage them to come along.

This year also marks the 20th birthday of the opening of the Kirkgate Centre, and our summer exhibition will celebrate this by featuring All Saints’ School in more detail, alongside our planned WWI display and other topics. We discovered that All Saints’ School had a distinguished former pupil who made her mark during the WWI period in a rather special way. Florence Williams, born in 1897 and living in Herbert’s Court (a courtyard to the west of the Allerdale Court Hotel), attended All Saints’ School, where her headmaster was Mr Postgate. Florence’s father Robert, a sergeant in the Border Regiment, was posted to Dublin, meaning a move for the whole family to Ireland. April 1916 saw the Easter Rising, when Irish rebels fought against soldiers. With great presence of mind Florence, under constant fire, managed to rescue several soldiers and drag them into her parents’ home. Additionally, she worked throughout the rebellion, bringing bread, medical supplies and bandages for the wounded men from the Adelaide Hospital, despite being shot at. For her bravery she was awarded the Military Medal, one of only two civilians ever to have received this award. She collected her medal from Buckingham Palace on 3rd March 1917.

Gloria Edwards

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