FORMER Narooma Area School student David Birmingham finally made it back to his old school last week after missing the big 100th Narooma Public School anniversary celebrations back in 1989.
Mr Birmingham who now lives in Miami Beach, Florida said he received an invite to the anniversary in the mail but was not able to travel all the way back to Australia at that time.
But when his neighbour and friend in Florida recently invited him to join him on a trip he was going on to visit a friend in Sydney, he jumped at the chance to come along and revisit his old childhood haunts including what is now Narooma Public School.
Mr Birmingham arrived in Narooma last week with his friend Carsten Willert from Miami and Carsten’s friend Ingrid Hendry from Sydney.
The three of them also visited Canberra were he moved with his family after leaving Narooma.
On hand during the visit at Narooma Public School to explain a bit of the school’s history was teacher librarian Lynn Constable, who recounted what a great celebration the 125th anniversary was lasting week and featuring the town’s first fireworks show.
Mrs Constable showed the visitors the original school house building that was moved to the school’s current location from the old school location at The Pines on the Princes Highway on the southern end of town.
The building where Mr Birmingham attended school from the age of 12 to 15 was in bad need of repair back in the 1980s and thankfully as part of the 100-year celebration the Narooma Lions Club decided to raise the funds to do the repairs.
It now still bears the name the “Centenary School House”.
While Mr Birmingham’s visit last week was sparked by the 100th anniversary, in an amazing coincidence the Narooma News was also last week contacted by the organisers of the 125th anniversary coming up later this year.
Persons interested in helping to organise celebrations for Narooma Public School’s 125th anniversary are kindly invited to a “chat” at Narooma Golf Club on April 9 at 7pm, and enquiries should be made to Sylvia Gauslaa on 4476 2761.
Mrs Constable said the centenary committee including Bob Bennett back in 1989 used the old handwritten school records to contact former students such as Mr Birmingham and invite them back for the celebration.
But unfortunately these records, both the originals and photocopied version, have since gone missing after people borrowed them to organise school reunions.
She made a desperate plea for anyone who has these important historic records to return them even anonymously leaving them on the front door step.
Mr Birmingham’s family immigrated to Australia from England and they moved to Narooma when his father worked on the local road crew. Many Narooma old timers would probably remember his uncle Ambrose who stayed in Narooma up until his death in the 1990s.
David and his family moved to Canberra in the early 1950s and he went onto to become an artist specialising in oil painting and dividing his time between Europe and America.
He was born in London, England in 1937 and at age seven won first prize for illustrating a poem. Since then art was to be his primary passion in life.
In 1948 he won another prize for a winter scene in a local art show.
In 1959 he attended art classes at East Sydney Technical College, and it was during this latest visit that he realised that some of these class mates also went to become some of the country’s most esteemed artists including John Olsen and Jeffrey Smart.
In the 1960s he moved to northern Australia and later New Zealand’s Lake District, where, supporting himself with a variety of jobs, he continued to paint and draw his surroundings.
In 1967 he moved back to England, attended the Royal College of Art in Brighton and a year later moved to Paris to study at the Academie Charpentier and later privately in the south of France.
In 1971 he moved to Miami Beach, enrolled at the Art Institute of Miami, later accepting a teaching position.
In 1990 he revisited the south of France after a 17-year absence and worked there in the summer months thereafter while enjoying winters in Miami Beach.
Mr Birmingham would love to hear from anyone still around who was at the school in the late 1940s and early 1950s with him and they can contact him in America via his email at email@example.com