The bell tolls for Narooma Public School’s 125th anniversary

IT’S just one month to go until the long-awaited Narooma Public School 125th Anniversary Reunion takes place.

March 21 to 23 is set to be an amazing weekend highlighted by a cocktail evening on the Saturday, March 22 at the Narooma Golf Club.

Stories from the past are getting around town as people cast their memories back to their days of youth.

Local ex-student Merrick Willcocks recalled a story about the school bell at the end of World War II. On the day that word was expected broadcasting the end of war, the public address system was set up in the “big room” (the 4th 5th and 6th class room).

Headmaster Frank Nichelsen assembled the children to wait for the announcement. Once word came through the children were allowed into the playground and the bell tolled for hours!

At a later date Merrick’s daughter, Susan was appointed the “bell ringer” for the year when she was in 6th class. She was extremely excited and couldn’t wait to get home to tell her mum and dad.

Another interesting story from Ailsa Finn (nee Healey) is that during the war the children dug a trench on the western boundary of the playground, from Kookaburra Gully (where the amphitheatre now is) down to the cricket nets (on the northern end of the playground).

The Amphitheatre in Kookaburra Gully was built for the Centenary in 1989. The pavers were sold for $5 to ex-students and current students and their names were etched into the paver by Bob Bennett one of the driving forces behind the centenary.

The Amphitheatre was used as the assembly hall for some 20 years after the Centenary - weather permitting - as the old assembly hall was not large enough to hold all the school students.

The new school hall has taken over the assembly days but the amphitheatre is still used on occasions such as book week when the children dress up and parade their favourite book characters.

Bob Bennett was a student at the school during the 1950s and was the general assistant at the school in the 1980s. He and his wife, Trish built and ran the Narooma Squash Courts in Hopkins Place, in the late 1970s.

His passion for the school was so contagious that the driveway into the school was name Bob Bennett Drive.

Bob is on the committee for the 125th anniversary, however ill health has made it difficult for him to participate as he would like. The Committee and all his friends wish him all the best.

Raffle tickets are selling well and all proceeds will go to the school. Geoff and Wally will be selling tickets on Thursday outside the newsagents, Jan and Sylvia on Saturday outside IGA, so come on up and have a chat, buy a ticket or three.

Many thanks to our generous local businesses for their donations including National Parks and Wildlife Service, Narooma Charters, Big 4 Narooma, Island View Beach Resort, Amaroon Holiday Apartments, Mitre 10, Betta Electrical, Auto Spares, South Coast Outdoor Products, Narooma Palms and Gaye Spears.

Have a look at our website www.naroomapublicschoolreunion.com or see us on Facebook.

We can also be contacted NPS 125th Anniversary, PO Box 291 Narooma or phone Sylvia on 4476 2761.

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