Alumni Mass and Open House at Crackley Hall set to celebrate past and present
Crackley Hall celebrated its past and present with a special event for former pupils of the school, as well as of its predecessor St Joseph’s Covent, on Saturday 17 September 2016.
The occasion marked the first time former pupils have been invited to see the new development of the school comprising a purpose-built hall and additional teaching spaces. The event, which ran from 10.30am to 1.00pm, was open to all former staff and pupils of Crackley Hall over the age of 18 as well as those former pupils and staff of St Joseph’s Convent.
The proceedings started with Mass in Crackley’s new hall at 10.30am, celebrated by Father Kevin Hooper of St Frances of Assisi in Kenilworth, followed by refreshments and the chance to see the school as it now is, whilst of course catching up with old friends.
Crackley Hall School has a rich history and a tradition starting with the Sisters of Mercy acquiring the site on the Coventry Road from Lord Kenilworth in 1945. The school relocated to Kenilworth from Stoneleigh Abbey to where, at the invitation of Lady Leigh, it had evacuated from Coventry to avoid bombing during the Second World War. In 2001, St Joseph’s was adopted into the Princethorpe Foundation, becoming Crackley Hall in 2004. Today the school is thriving with nearly 300 pupils from age 2 to 11 years old, including Little Crackers Nursery.
“As we look to the future, it is also important to remember our heritage and the debt that is owed to the Sisters of Mercy in establishing a school at Crackley Hall,” commented Mr Robert Duigan, Headmaster at Crackley Hall School.
“This event was a chance to gather together our wider community which included former pupils from both St Joseph’s Convent and the early years of Crackley Hall School. We were delighted that so many former pupils and staff were able to join us and share their happy memories of school days.”
The name Crackley Hall School came into existence in 2004 following the merger with Princethorpe College in 2001, prior to that it was called St Joseph’s School and before that St Joseph’s Convent School.
The Past Pupils had a very successful reunion in 2015 to celebrate the existence of a school on the Crackley Hall site for 70 years.
70th Anniversary Celebrations Deemed A Great Success!
From the serene solemnity of the celebratory mass at St Francis of Assisi Church on Friday morning to the fun-filled whole school celebrations of Friday afternoon and the fabulously well-attended Open House on Saturday, everyone seemed to agree that the St Joseph’s and Crackley Hall 70th Anniversary Celebrations were a great success!
Some 200 past St Joseph’s and Crackley Hall teachers and pupils from across the generations came together over the course of two days to celebrate their working and school lives in a wonderfully friendly and good humoured atmosphere. Pupils from every stage of the school’s history from the war years to the present day were represented including token male pupils such as John Symonds who attended the school when it was at Stoneleigh Abbey in the early 40s and Sean Johnson who was at St Joseph’s in the 70s and 80s. Ann Crossley who started at the school on the day it opened at Crackley Hall in 1945 was also there to join in the fun.
Some guests had definitely kept St Joseph’s and Crackley Hall in the family with generations attending, for instance Grandmother Jean Summers, who attended the school when it was at Stoneleigh Abbey in the late 30s and 40s, her daughter Georgina Edwards who attended St Joseph’s in the 70s and 80s and her grandchildren twins Martha and Lucas Summers who currently attend Crackley Hall in Junior 1!
Guests on the cool Saturday morning were greeted by skilled individual musical performances from current pupils and the exuberant delivery of the Crackley Choral Group. Welcoming words from Headmaster, Robert Duigan, reassured the assembled throng that the ethos of their old school was truly alive and well and being nurtured by the latest generation of staff and pupils.
Former Headteachers, Sr Philomena Bowers, Lesley Cox and Jane Le Poidevin who attended the celebrations along with the Mayor of Kenilworth, John Cooke, were recognised, and former Headteacher Heather Harris, sadly now departed, was fondly remembered.
With the formalities over and the sun beginning to shine, visitors were invited to explore the site and grounds of their ‘alma mater’. The school’s hall and former Chapel was transformed into a ‘pop up’ tea room serving delicious tea, coffee and cake. Long forgotten artefacts and photographs from the archive were put on display to rekindle memories. Current pupils swapped experiences with past pupils and former teachers were praised for being the inspiration behind chosen careers paths and lifelong passions.
The morning flew by in a flurry of excited chatter and it was soon time for the guests to make their way onwards to their own lunchtime gatherings in and around Kenilworth.
Our sincere thanks go to all the current staff, pupils and parents who contributed to the celebrations and to all the past pupils and teachers who attended and made the events such a success. We do hope you enjoyed your walk down memory lane and look forward to seeing you again in 2020 for the 75th Anniversary!
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