This post is an indulgence - it will mean very little to most and something to a handful of people who may never read this blog. If any old Runnymedians do happen, by some miracle of cyberspace, to read this post, please don't leave without leaving a comment!. Not all of us can make it to the school reunions so this will be in lieu of....
Even today as I look back on my school years I cannot really identify why Runnymede College Madrid was so special to me. Was it myth or reality? Memory is a strange thing - sometimes memories are evoked by the atmospheric feeling of a certain time of year - others by hearing a song from the past. About once or twice a year memories, so fragmented now, of Runnymede and the people I was with there, come back to haunt me. Distant voices like echoes returning to me through the passage of time. It was a time for friendships and heartache, it was a time of learning and a time of growth, physically, emotionally and culturally.
In September 1970 I moved from Germany to Spain. I was excited about the prospect of going to the new school in Madrid - had my parents stayed in Germany I would have been sent to Boarding School in England. Enrolment in Runnymede therefore was somewhat of a reprieve for me. I was totally besotted with horses in those days - this new School offered horseriding as an extra curricular activity. The other enticement was that it was a Secondary School - because of the differences in school years between Europe and Australia I had repeated Year 6 and was the oldest in my school in Germany - I was looking forward to not being older than everybody else.
Runnymede was located in El Viso, Calle del Arga 9 &13. The photograph above of us all was taken in the grounds of No. 13 in the spring of 1971. At that time, the School consisted of two semidetached houses - No. 13 was the Junior School, No 9 was the Office and Senior School. The science lab and library were located in the basement of No. 13. There was a basketball court at the back of No 13 also. No 11 (in the middle) was a residential house for people with disabilities. We were given a three course meal every day which was served in the dining room of No 9.
I was in lower 3A and Upper3A in my 20 months at Runnymede - our classrooms were converted from what must have originally been bedrooms and living rooms in the houses (and most gracious houses they must have been). On Mondays we would combine with Upper3A for sport at the General Moscardo Gymnasium. Mr Arthur Powell was the Headmaster and he was ably assisted by Mrs Powell - they both hold special places in my memory as they were exceptionally kind to me.
Our lessons were based on the British School curriculum - we had many students from all over the world - particularly from the US. Many of the students were bilingual and could switch from English to Spanish in conversations - this is one skill I never mastered but in my older years have now decided I am determined to do. Saturday mornings were the times we went horse riding - one of the highlights of my week. I initially started at El Trebol and as we became more competent we were moved over to Somosaguas where the horses and facilities were better . A particular memory I have is the “singing” on the horse riding bus - the Mendozas used to bring a battery operated record player so that we could listen to music on the way home - the Beatles were just breaking up in those days - “Let it Be’ was a favourite; George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” and the seemingly never ending “Chirpie Chirpie Cheep Cheep” ......! Then there was the ice skating on Friday nights.
Of lessons - there was Spanish every morning (beginners to fluent speakers); Miss Savage was our form teacher (Lower 3A); Mr Ashworth (Upper 3A); Mr Glyn Jones taught us English and Geography; Mr Ballard, History, Mr Millican, Latin and Art, Mr Owens was the sport teacher and coach for the basketball team. Mr Nelson was our music teacher and also responsible for organising two musical productions - “Trial by Jury” and “Oliver” in my time at the school.
We were a tight knit little community - most of us strangers in a different land. So many have moved on to live in other parts of the world - friends lost over time and distance. The school has moved out to la Moraleja - Manolo (who I used to play with) is now the Headmaster. It is apparently a thriving school that has tripled in size since 1971. It offers education from Pre-school to Year 13 and I am reminded constantly that time never stands still. For me however, Runnymede College will always be that little school located in El Viso, Arga 13 & 9. I will close by quoting a well known poem that is used by many schools around the world as their pledge - I felt it was very relevant to the Runnymede I remember.
"This is our school.
Let peace dwell here.
Let the rooms be full of contentment.
Let love abide here-love of one another, love of humankind, love of life itself.
Let us remember that as many hands build a house, So many hearts make a school."
May the spirit of Runnymede College Madrid continue to live on in our hearts and in our memories.
Following are some old photographs of horse riding at Somosaguas November 1971. It was an extremely cold Saturday morning.
Mr Arthur Powell giving directions to the riders.
Observing riders....I think.... from left to right...Mrs Powell, Manolo Powell, Michael Bake, Mr Arthur Powell far right.
This was me.
UPDATE 2005 - More memorabilia - Monday Sports at General Moscardo
Thank you to every person who has placed a comment in the section below. As mentioned above, my class (L111A - 1977) along with U111A (some of the 1976 school leavers) were combined for a session of gym/PE at the General Moscardo Gymnasium. I have since unearthed some ancient exercise books of mine from that era and discovered the class lists for 1970/1971 for U111A and L111A. (Apologies for spelling mistakes - they were written by 12 year olds).
Lower 3 A Boys: Stephen Ainslie, Michael Bartos, John Garcia, Jerry Gustov, Joseph Holliday, Eddie LLorca, Rossa McDermott, David Milburn. Girls: Alexandra Bake, Jane Bartos, Lorraine Brown, Cheryl Carmelitano, Annie Eder, Laurie Hanselman, Alison Law, Marley Lunshof, Aileen McKenzie, Pauline Nelson, Jenny Shaw, Claire Wilkinson.
Upper 3 A Boys: Jonathan Arnold, Michael John Bake, Luis Cisneros, Ian Purkis, Manolo Powell, Paul Rodriguez, Paul Sire. Girls: Ingrid Anderson, Christina Brown, Eva Burgoyne, Elizabeth C, Maria Eder, Sylvia Evans, Vicky Gillan, Buti Larres, Esther Marfy, Fiona McArthur, Michelle Menard, Ester Marfy, Anna Morris, Maryse Stam, Sally Webb, Jane Wilkinson.
Junior Sports Champion of the Year - Boy: Ian Purkis
Junior Sports Champion of the Year - Girl: Michele Menard