Ex-Pupils Memories

Anne McGregor (nee Crips)

Hello, Anne McGregor nee Cripps here!
I came upon this website having decided nostalgically to checkout my first experience at school.
Well, I am extremely old! I joined St John’s in 1957, when I was five years old. I vividly remember my teacher Miss Stock. She was very young, just out of College. From memory my other infant teachers were Miss Young & Miss Tamkin. I wasn’t too keen on the latter….

In the juniors we had Miss Webster (scary) Mr Williams & finally Mr Adams. My very important job in the last year was to be in charge of the bell!! I scuttled out of the classroom into the corridor every afternoon to ring the bell to give five minutes notice of going home.

Miss Read was our wonderful HeadMistress. She was a ‘one off’. Unfailingly kind but strict also. Lunchtime was a nightmare for me. Our dinners were prepared on site & in those days we were forced to eat all manner of ghastly offerings. To this day I would not be able to force down semolina pudding or tapioca. Irish Stew appeared to be lumps of gristle, enough said. St Luke’s school shared our canteen & arrived by bus each day at about 1pm. More often than not I was still sat staring at a plate of food which would just not go down.

I left St John’s in 1963. For the last couple of years the school was raising money to build a small swimming pool. The target was achieved in that year. The whole school took part in a concert, including singing, dancing & reciting poems learned by heart. This raised the final amount. 10 years later my eldest son, Gary Johnson, learnt to swim in that pool.
Some names from the era were: Barbara Ford, Alison Leyland, Sarah Fisher, Gary Huhn, Nigel Hayter & Nicholas Wright.

I went on to Bournemouth School for Girls & worked in a local bank. Later I became an Insurance Team Leader at Frizzells, now Liverpool Victoria. Lastly I worked at Broadstone Middle School as a Learning Support Assistant. My years at St John’s were very happy & despite the semolina I have nothing but good memories!

(August 2021)

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Frankie Bush-Walker

Hi, my name is Frankie Bush-Walker. I attended MSJ from 1995-2002, during my time there I made some friends for life. I have since moved away from Bournemouth to sunny Cornwall. I live here with my fiancee and 2 year old daughter. I had a few jobs after leaving school but I have found my stride now in the entertainment business. I am currently the entertainment manager for John Fowler holidays. Based in Perranporth and spend my days off surfing down Fistral beach in Newquay. I’m trying to think of my different teachers throughout the years. Reception – Mrs Wells. Year 1 – Mrs Bence. Year 2 -Mrs Littler, Year 3 – Miss Antell, Year 4 – Miss Hurley. Year 5 – Miss Fairs, Year 6 – Mr Wallace. Mr Waller was head teacher and Mr Shute was still around. I see that Mrs Laing is still a Teaching Asst, I was in the same class as her daughter and Mrs Marshall is still there as well, I was good friends with her son Glen. If anybody is reading this and remembers me drop me a line frankiebushwalker@gmail.com and if anybody has any old pics from our time there feel free to email me them.

(May 2015)

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Richard Weeks

I am a former pupil at your school. I was born in Bournemouth in 1965 and lived in Moordown. I was only at your school from September 1970 until March 1971. I moved with my family to Newport, Gwent in South Wales and I have been there eversince.

The Headmistress, was Miss Read. I was taught by Mrs Miller and Miss Stock. I can remember a nursery nurse, but I cannot recall her name at all. The only pupils I can remember, are Lyndsey Blake, Sally-Anne Francis, Linda Holloway, Robert Lines and Spencer House. These were class companions.

In Wales, since leaving school, I have been in the catering trade, a van driver a postman and a painter and decorator. I still have relations in Bournemouth, and have been back 41 times in the past 40 years. I would be interested to hear from any of those 5 class friends.

Yours Sincerely Richard Weeks (October 2011)

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Martin Hayler

I was a pupil here back in 64-71 I think.  Miss Read was the Headmistress and Mr N Windell and Mr Shute were there too, but Miss Webster  was an inspiration as a swimming teacher and I was there when the swimming pool was built too!! Let me know if you have a record of my time there.
Some pupils names I remember: Fiona Grant, Helen Ross, Neil Best, Antony Fry, Kevin James, Leanne Venner, not sure!
Martin Hayler
Regards Martin & Lyn Hayler Bulloved British Bulldogs http://www.freewebs.com/bulloved/index.htm


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Joel Hender

I went to St John’s in 1999 when Mr Waller was headmaster. I am now studying Physics, Biology, Maths and Psychology as A level in Wales in the hope to go on and study medicine at university in London. I remember St John’s well and have only good memories, I now do competative cycling over the nation. I moved to Wales in 2007 to live with my Mum. I am living in Carmarthenshire (west Wales) and am fed up with the constant rain. Unfortunately I only stay in contact with few of my friends from MSJ.
Thanks Ex Pupil Joel

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Rachel Illsley (nee Rachel Bolton)

I was looking on the internet out of general curiosity and came across your school website.

During 1964 – 1969 I was a pupil at the school, when Miss Read was Headmistress. I have many happy memories of St John’s and my childhood ‘funny’ stories I still tell my children (now 28, 26 & 16) who pretend not ever having heard them before!

I was particularly interested in music at the school and was a proud member of Miss Maddren’s recorder group and choir which all members were given a white round badge with a treble clef on it.

If any of the teacher’s are still around, they will probably remember me, my name was Rachel Bolton and our family was renowned for being of a ‘foster’ family. I was adopted at the age of 9 and can well remember being allowed not to wear school uniform on my return from the Bournemouth Court after being officially adopted. My mother and father fostered many children, many of who became pupils of St John’s over the years.

I am now a mother of three, have one grandchild and am an insurance broker by trade. I went on from the recorder to playing the flute at the age of 13 at Ferndown Upper /school and now play semi-professionally at wedding ceremonies.

The names on your ex pupils list, Jonathan Still and Paul Fail I remember well, Jonathan more so because of his musical talent.

Should you ever need an ex-pupil to give a presentation at the school of past years I would be very happy to do so and include some of my hilarious memories with the current teachers and pupils.

Kind Regards and fond memories,

Rachel Illsley (July 2009)

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Nicola McCluskey(now Quigley)

I recently went onto the St John’s Website and read some of the past pupils letters.I was a pupil from 1968-1973, Miss Read was my Headmistress and my last teacher was Mr Shute, he was my favourite teacher and to this day I still remember him. I was wondering if he has retired? I presume he has.

When I left St Johns in ’73 we went to live in Rhodesia(as it was known then) Zimbabwe now, I went to a Convent there.We left there after 5 years as my Father had a contract for work in Malawi. I went to the local school there but my parents decided to move me to a boarding school in South Africa, I finished my schooling in a place called Victoria Girls’ High school in Grahamstown in South Africa, I finished with all my qualifications. I then went into Hairdressing and qualified in that with distinctions, I was hairdressing for many years and then when I met my husband I had my first daughter, we then decided to move to Ireland where I had my other daughter. We are presently living in Ireland. I am now working in our daughters primary school, I am a supervisory assistant to two special needs children. A very rewarding job.
I have always remembered St Johns with a smile, I enjoyed my time there and Mr Shute  played a big part in where I am today, he was probably the teacher that has made the most impact on me and I thank him for that.
Ex Pupil
Nicola McCluskey(now Quigley) (July 2009)

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Africa Mason

Africa goes to Portugal on Monday to represent GB at the Modern Pentathlon European Championships (she is currently ranked No. 3 in UK in youth B)

There is an event website at www.fppm.pt/eventos Africa is also a member of ‘Team Wiggle’ – sponsored by the Portsmouth based online bike specialists – she has a blog of her events at http://www.wiggleblog.com/category/team-wiggle/africa-mason/ She is also competing in the Biathle World Series at Weymouth on Saturday (last year she won silver medal in this series of races and was 5th in the World Champs.) She hopes to be selected for this years World Champs – in Monaco in September later in the summer.

(June 2009)

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Hello there, I’m Jonathan Still, I was a pupil at St John’s between 1964-1971.

I went on to Bournemouth School, then to the School of Slavonic & East European Studies at the University of London, did research in linguistics in Zagreb, Croatia, and then decided to change career and work as a musician. I’ve worked for over 20 years as a pianist in ballet companies and schools, and am now Music Development Manager & Lecturer in Music Studies at the Royal Academy of Dance in London where I’ve worked for the last 10 years.
I was prompted to write this because I’m currently doing an MA in Music Education at the Institute of Education in London, and as in the middle of writing an essay about the psychology of music, I had to listen to a certain piano sonata by Beethoven (Op 49 No. 2 in G major) – the minute it started, I found myself back in assembly aged 5 (I guess) listening to Miss Maddren playing the same piece. Then I remembered another piece she played (Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words Op 30 No. 3 in E major).  Not only can I remember every note of the pieces, but how she played, and where I was standing, and whether I liked the piece or not (I always thought the Beethoven piece was a bit unimaginative – not her fault, but Beethoven’s – and I still think so!).
Now I’m older, I realise how valuable and irreplacable such early experiences are, and am grateful that however much Miss Maddren might have disliked having to play piano solos in front of the whole school at 9.00 in the morning, I feel richer for the privilege, and still remember it fondly over forty years later: it was probably one of the most formative musical experiences of my school years.  Some other memories: we had a supply teacher in the second form (I think she was Miss Bone, or got married and became Mrs Bone) who I adored, and someone in the local chemist lent me some money so I could by her a Bronnley lemon soap for christmas.  Mr Shute confiscated my furry rubber spider and NEVER gave it back! Miss Webster frightened me, Mr Holland even more, and Miss Read I was totally terrified of. Doing ‘Singing Together’ over the radio cultivated a dislike of the song ‘Linden Lea’ which I’ve never really got over, and Leeson House made me dislike fossils and Purbeck marble. It still amazes me that we did French in Mr Parker’s year, which gave me a lifelong confidence in languages (and I still remember ‘Minou Vison est vedette de cinéma’ from the audiovisual book we used – not that that’s ever been useful). I was there when the swimming pool was built, and I often think that was the most brilliant resource for a school in a seaside town: it’s given me a lifelong love of swimming.
I now work with teachers and young children a lot in the field of dance, and maybe it’s the richness of those early experiences at St John’s which make me passionate about early years education, especially in the arts and sports, and recognise the value of informal learning (like listening to Miss Maddren in assembly). I wish the school many happy and successful years ahead.
Best wishes,
Jonathan Still (June 2009)

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Jessica May

Hello There to who-ever maybe reading this. Due to the unexpected weather conditions I decided to check out my old schools website, I came across the part where I can email back to tell you a few things about where I am today.   Nearly Year 10! Wow … nearly over 3 years now. Gosh I miss St John’s.   I remember me being in 6D  and Mr Wallace being my maths teacher (You did a good job Sir)   I’m at Avonbourne school and have returned to Moordown St John’s on one occasion to help out with year 2’s.   I’m sure a lot has changed – new teachers and hopefully some of my old teachers.   I would LOVE to return for another visit at some point in the near future.   I would also love to speak about where I am at the moment. I’m about to pick my options and I’m looking forward to speaking more to any old teachers who would like to know.
Please return an e-mail. I would love to hear from anyone. And I would Love to return for another visit if I am welcome. x   Thanks for your time reading this.   Return to 
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Would Love to hear from the best school ever 🙂

(February 2009)

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Charlie Fyfe

Hello there, my names Charles Fyfe, better known as Charlie.
I attended St.Johns from 1998-2003, I left the school originally to live in Malta out in the medditeranean, to be pefectly frank I hated it there, and have since moved back to the UK in 2006, I will soon be entering my final year of school.
If anyone remembers me from way back then, they’ll know I was a HUGE Video Game fan, sporting various items of Nintendo and Sega merchandise to school, this has dominated me over the years, and now after 5 years of studying games design, i’m confident in my career path of games designer, and am in the midst of creating various projects which will hopefully assist me in my college applications.
In the yearly talent show, I performed a magic act, which seemed to gain a fair bit of praise, which is probably what a lot of people would’ve remembered me by, seeing as I left soon after.
I remember a few teachers..
Mr Littlewood Mr Wallace Mrs Steel (who left) and lastly Mrs Marshall
If any of em remember me, please get in touch 🙂

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James White (DOB 21.11.1976)

I was a pupil at St Johns back in the 80’s. I remember my old teacher: Mrs Oathem, Miss Stock, Mrs Dobson, Miss Maddren, and who could forget the legendary Mr Shute!. I left in 1988 (could have been 89’), moving to Winton Boys (Coronation Avenue) for my secondary education. Since leaving I have attended Bournemouth & Poole College, completing courses in design & graphic communications.

After finishing my further education, I have worked at various commercial printers within the local area and have progressed to the role of senior manager at my current employers. I am also married with a 1 year old son and now live in Ringwood. I will always have fond memories of St Johns and visiting Lyme Regis even now brings a smile to my face. Would love to come back and visit the school at some point, to see what has changed since I left.

James White
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Hello I am Paul Browning

I started at St John’s in 1977. I am now living in Australia with my wife of 12 years and two sons. I did an apprenticeship as an Antique restorer which I worked at for about 10 years, I have now retrained in horticulture landscape. I went to school with Becci Fry! how funny.

all the best
“Be Content With What You Have And May You Find Serenity and Tranquillity In A World That You May Not Understand.”

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My name is Paul Fail. It’s strange reading about St. John’s after all these years. I was at  the school from 64 to 69 when the legendary Miss Read was still at  the helm. I moved to Dover for my secondary education to return to  Bournemouth for 6 years. Since then many things have changed but the  main event was moving to Germany to settle down.
I’ve been involved with ESA for 20 years and doesn’t time fly! I met  my wife here, another quirk of fate because her hometown is Newcastle where my grandfather originally came from! My two sons are more German than English which is again another twist in fate as my great grandparents were more than likely German too!
Anyhow, should any pupils want to know about the world of spacecraft and space operations, just drop me a line. My email address  is
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Thanks for opening the website.
(1st January 2008)

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My name is Debbie Butcher (nee Tucker) I was at the school from 1965 – 1970 when Miss Read was headmistress.

I went on to Bournemouth School for Girls and then went to work in the Midland Bank for 7 years. After getting married I moved to Fareham as my husband was in the Navy but after having 2 children we moved back to Bournemouth so that they too could attend Moordown St John’s. Christopher is now 23 and Sarah is 21. Chris is currently in his final year at Portsmouth University and Sarah is backpacking her way around Australia!

I have worked at this school for 17 years, starting as a 1-1 teaching assistant, and for the last 10 years as the ICT technician. I also work in the evenings teaching computers for Bournemouth and Poole College.

(21st December 2007)

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My name is Sharon Whitmarsh

Many moons ago I was at St Johns school 1976-1982.

So, what have I done since:

Well I went on to Glenmoor and got my CSE’s and then went on to college were I studied child care, which let me go and work in the  USA and Germany as a nanny.

On my return to England I have worked in Nurserys etc, at present I’m a teacher assistant at St Johns, but on maternity leave.

In my personal life I have 2 children Josh aged 11 who also went to St John’s  and Elenor who is 5 months.

We have moved to Lyndhurst which is a lovely village set in the New Forest where I live with my partner Kevin and Josh attends Hounsdown School .

I still keep In touch with Vanessa Clark nee Roper who I met while at St John’s .

Sharon Whitmarsh (26th November 2007)

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Hi Moordown,

James Curtis here, I left in 2006, I now go to Ferndown Middle School and although i enjoy my new school, sometimes I miss being at Moordown. How are you all and how are all of the  teachers? I’m now in year 8-getting old. There are quite a few people in my school that used to go to Moordown. I would like to come back some time to see how you are all doing. I hope I’ll see you some time and I hope all goes well at Moordown and at your future schools (a special hello to Mrs Lidster who probably won’t remember me!).

Have fun, James

P.S.- I still do mounted games and rode in the England team at the European Championships in May this year. (24th November 2007)

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I’m Savannah Winstanley. I was going back to the old schools website for old time’s sake and saw your link “ex pupils” I am replying to that.

I went to Moordown only 2 years ago, I was in the 5th year with Miss Antell. Now I moved to Florida in the United States and miss my hometown very much 🙂

My new school isn’t unlike Moordown except of course it’s secondary or middle as they call it over here. It’s Grace Lutheran school and I live in a town called Winter Haven . Hope all is well at good ole Moordown.

Savannah (21st July 2007)

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Hello I’m Becci Watling nee Fry .

I started at MSJ in 1977 ish!! I’m 35 now and a mother of four young children the oldest of whom is in Reception at MSJ. My second child is due to start in September.

Prior to becoming a mummy I worked full time as a Deputy Sister on Ward 5 at Bournemouth Hospital.

I am Married to an ex-pupil also, Robert Watling he is working for Southern Gas Networks. He had a couple of tries at travelling the world, but never seemed to get that far due to some misfortune or other!

Thanks for the interest! (5th June 2007)

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