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Maggie Cassidy (nee Munt)

From Magie Cassidy (nee Munt)

As Margaret Mant I started at Cardinal Newman on the day it opened in January 1966.  I was in the top year at the time, Junior 2.  I think the reasoning was that it was not worth disrupting children who only had a year or two to go at their current school.  I had previously attended Bell Farm Infants and Junior school.

Moving to Cardinal Newman meant that rather than the two minute walk from my house in Robinsway to Bell Farm, I now had to negotiate a much longer walk to school!  I usually crossed the Hersham Road via the Bell Farm crossing lady, walked through Rydens Grove and down Molesey Road to the Coronation playing fields.  There was a gate at the end of the Cardinal Newman sports field (next to the railway line) which I went through to enter the school’s grounds.  Going through that gate traumatised me!  I had a big fear that passing trains would derail and roll down the slope at me!  I would watch out for trains and run to the gate, run through it and then run towards the school until I was happy that I would be safe if a train derailed!

Junior 2’s teacher was Mrs MacDonald.  Here is a picture of Junior 2 in 1967, it’s quite useful that I wrote down all the names at the time.
















This is me in the original uniform:

Girls wore the school badge on the front of their tunic.  It depicts a Cardinal’s hat.

I can’t believe my hair cut – what was my mum thinking!

My best friend throughout most of my time was Mary McNally.  This is apparent from the diary that we had to write every morning when we first got into class.  If I wasn’t talking about why I could or could not play with Mary, I would write about my hamster instead!  Incidentally, I still love hamsters and currently have a long haired one called Oswald!






Here are a couple of extracts from one of my diaries.  Sorry about the writing being a bit faint, they were written in pencil.  The first is about my hamster escaping.  She must have been found because I mention her again later in the diary!  The next two entries are about Mary, the first says that I can’t play with Mary because I had to go to the dentist, the second says that I am allowed to play with her.  Those who ever came to my house will recognise the lady saying “yes” in the picture as my mum, the likeness is uncanny!





As all schools we had sports day each summer.  Here are two of my certificates:

First in the Sack Race!  It’s probably the only first place I ever got in any sport, so don’t knock it!

(Incidentally, I may not have achieved much on the sports field, but I was very proud of the fact that I was the tallest in the class!)





Third in “throwing the ball” – I was obviously robbed.

You will see that Mr O’ Malley, the head teacher, signed each certificate, which brings back another memory.  Who remembers Mr O’Malley’s slipper?  Pupils were threatened with it if they misbehaved.  I think only the boys, though.  Going to the school hall you’d pass Mr O’Malley’s office and you’d sometimes see worried looking boys sitting outside, waiting for…the slipper!

To this day I don’t know if the slipper was a fictitious threat or whether this otherwise kind, mild mannered man actually walloped offenders.  It’s such an alien concept now.

Another picture of me to illustrate another aspect of life at Cardinal Newman in the mid-sixties:

Periodically we all got on a coach and went to the Walton swimming baths for swimming lessons.  We were awarded a different colour button badge depending on our swimming ability.  Here I am proudly sporting my purple badge!  I am not sure if purple was the highest level or if the rumours of a higher ranking, white badge are true.

I believe that this is the certificate that I was awarded together with the purple badge.

Again, signed by Mr O’Malley.













Each year there was a school trip. In 1967 we went to Holland and Belgium.  Here is a picture from that from that trip, taken at a model village in Holland.

I think that the girl on the right may be Shirley Black.

My main memory of that trip is when we were in Bruges.  I was horrified when Mrs MacDonald’s husband (who was also with us on the trip) got out his bagpipes and started playing in the main square!

The following year we went to Holland, Belgium and France.  In France we visited the beach at Dunkirk, unfortunately the significance of the beach was lost on me.  I’ve since been back and now appreciate the enormity of what happened there during the war.  Here are three pictures from that trip:



I’m the tall one in the middle picture.  The girl wearing a beret is Michelle smith.  The girl with long hair in the left hand picture is Patricia Collins, with her sister, Angela, cuddling up to her.

My class left Cardinal Newman soon after these pictures were taken, but not before taking the 11+ exam.  We didn’t actually know we were taking it! Not because we were a bit dim, but because we were protected from the pressure of the exam by our teacher, Mrs MacDonald.  We had a test every Friday leading up to the 11+ exams and when we took the first 11+ paper we just assumed it was our weekly test.  The only difference was that a couple of boys who would walk around the class looking at everybody’s answers were made to sit at their desks and do the exam in silence for a change!  The significance eluded me at the time.  With all the talk these days of the unfair pressure on kids when taking SATs, maybe Mrs MacDonald’s approach should be adopted.  I was ill for the second 11+ paper and so I had to take it on my own, literally!  A teacher was supposed to be present in the room with me, but Mrs MacDonald realised that because my extreme shyness I would be mortified.  So, I did the exam in an office on my own…or so I thought!  Whilst doing the exam a teacher was the other side of a window behind me!

Anyway, I passed and went to St John Bosco Grammar school in Chertsey, together with Michelle Smith and Jennifer Kirwan from my class.  Whilst there I decided to be an astronaut.  It never happened.  Instead I am a software tester working on the Metropolitan Police’s crime reporting system. 

I hope that some of my rather long report on my days at Cardinal Newman are of interest to pupils, parents and teachers past and present.

Have a great celebration,

Maggie Cassidy