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Karen Trafford

From Karen Trafford

Dear Children of Cardinal Newman School,

As you are celebrating your 50th anniversary I am writing to share my memories of Cardinal Newman School.

Recently, I happened to bump into some of the current Cardinal Newman Year 3’s and 4’s (not literally!) at a badminton sports event at Surrey Sports’ Park. I was taking a team from the school that I teach at. I got talking to your teachers and found out about the 5oth celebrations.

Although I am a teacher and a deputy head now when I was a little girl I started school at Cardinal Newman’s in the late 1960’s. My parents think I probably started in September 1967.

There was a game I remember playing out in the playground as five year olds. A hawthorn hedge bordered the playground and had very sharp thorns on it. We used to play hospitals and used the thorns from the hedge as needles to give our friends injections! (Not something I would recommend you try.)

My best friend at school at Cardinal Newman’s was Bernadette Walsh. She came from an Irish family and lived across the road from me. She had a big brother Peter and an older cousin called Angela who looked out for us.

A train could be seen from the field. In fact when I am on a train from Farnham to Waterloo I always look out for Cardinal Newman’s which you can see from the train window if you know where to look.

There was a whole school Christmas production I clearly remember. I was cast as a gypsy dancer but then they decided they needed more exotic dancers so they changed my role to a Hula Hula Hawaiian dancer. We wore colourful grass skirts. I much preferred the new role. On the night of the performance we had to go to a lady who worked in the office, I think she was the secretary. We called her Mrs. Jelly but I am not sure if that was her real name. She was a lovely smiling person. She had the job of attaching our grass skirts with safety pins. We then had to parade around the hall with all the parents in it. It was dark and I think candle lit. We were all singing the Christmas Carol “The Little Drummer Boy” with the chorus Pa romp pa pom pom as we marched around the hall.

Being chosen for the District Sports is another memory. I had been chosen to sprint. I was petrified getting on the bus with all the older children. I was still only in the infants. (They must have had district sports for younger children in those days) I remember this huge place with what seemed like hundreds of people and lots of noise. My parents tell me I did well in my race, not that I can remember.

I do however, remember the floods of 1968. We lived in Rodney Road in Walton- Upon -Thames. My father was a policeman and we lived in the police house just down the road from the hospital. We had to move all our furniture upstairs in case of flooding. In the end the flood reached the road next to ours but not our road. However, it did reach school. I remember we had to be evacuated. Can you imagine that? Sometimes I used to catch a bus home from school but the buses arrived early. The emergency door of the bus was at the back. As little Reception and Year 1 children we had to be lifted by the adults onto the bus. I can clearly remember the commotion; it was scary and exciting at the same time.

We then had to go to school at St. Stephen’s School in Hersham because of the flood damage to Cardinal Newman School. I remember my little brother Christopher joining me there. From my memories it was a much older school with high ceilings. We also had to cross the road to the field area. I remember some older girls being mean to my little brother in that field and I remember sticking up for him.

The above photos are of my brother and me at the Cardinal Newman school fete. My mum sewed me a costume from crepe paper. I was a character from a nursery rhyme called the Queen of Hearts. My dad made my brother a robot outfit out of boxes and silver foil. My brother won 1st Prize. I had to do with highly commended!  If you look at the photos carefully you can see the school building in the background.

My family was called Smith. My mum looked after my four brothers and me whilst my dad worked as a policeman in Walton –On –Thames. My name is Karen and my brother who attended school with me was called Christopher. We had bright red hair like my mum.

We moved house when I was a junior as my father got a posting to be a policeman in a village called Frensham in Surrey.

As you can see I didn’t really remember much about the lessons we were taught. I do remember reading Janet and John Books and High on the Hill. I remember using colourful Cuisenaire Rods for maths. (No Numicon blocks and base ten rods in those days!) We could bring in things like conkers and acorns for the nature table. Sadly, I seem to remember the major events and playing in the playground more than the lessons I was taught. It was a happy time and we had no SATs to stress about.

I am now a deputy head teacher at a big Catholic primary school in Farnham. My brother Christopher lives out in the Caribbean on the British Virgin Islands. He originally went out there to manage Richard Branson’s Necker Island but now has his own company selling property and small islands. We have three younger brothers. All of us our married and have eleven children between us. We were given a very good start in life at Cardinal Newman’s.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. Karen Trafford