Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hurrah for 'Alma Mater by the Tyne'!!

Yesterday (21st October 2011) we celebrated Founder's Day of St Cuthbert's Grammar School - now St Cuthbert's High School - in Newcastle upon Tyne. Due to Half Term holidays the day was celebrated 1 week early.

It was in 1881 that Bishop Chadwick founded this school for boys of the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle. Several moves later - including to the country during WWII - the school settled on Denton Bank. During my years at the school - 1949-1954 - we had boys from as far north as Alnwick, as far south as Darlington, as far west as Hexham and as far east as Tynemouth & South Shields.

My  Headmaster was Canon (later Monsignor) JJ Cunningham whose office was situated at the top of the '13 steps' on the right & immediately opposite the chapel. In which order did one visit them? The Head Prefect - in charge of discipline - was Fr Gerard (Ged) Crumbley. It was quite a shock to come from our (mainly) avuncular parish clergy to these cassocked figures who were now among the teaching staff. Fr Ged left to go to parish work & arrived at my home parish of St Michael's in Newcastle where his brother, Fr Raymond, was already a curate. What a change!

Following Fr Ged we had the (in)famous Fr (later Canon & Headmaster) Cassidy. Who can ever forget his saying through tightly clenched teeth "Every time I open my mouth some fool speaks."

Whilst every day at St Cuthbert's was not a bed of roses I can say with honesty that my schooldays were happy, that - although no star pupil -, I had a good education and that my Faith was strengthened, my sense of discipline was formed and I was readied for adult life.

To quote the school song:

"Come then boys come rally round her
Let our hearts with hers entwine
Come and laud her to the echo
Alma Mater by the Tyne"