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News > OT Events & Reunions > Hillsiders from 1973 to 1977 reunite back at Tonbridge

Hillsiders from 1973 to 1977 reunite back at Tonbridge

Seven of the Hill Side 1973 intake met for their 50 year reunion on Friday 17 November.
The OTs on the Memorial Garden steps by the Chapel
The OTs on the Memorial Garden steps by the Chapel

We were all a little unsure what to expect, but nervously excited to be together again after 45 years. Unexpectedly, and with only a few months passing from the birth of the idea to us meeting, seven of the Hill Side 1973 intake met for a 50 year reunion in Tonbridge on Friday 17 November.

The factual account of the day will record a leisurely lunch at Verdigris on the High Street, a School tour guided by the current HS Head and Deputy Head of House, then tea, reminiscence and a house tour back at Hillside.

Rob O’Neill, Tim Wilson, Hugh Smethurst, Dave Wright, Paul Booer, Martin Hennock, Quentin Parsons

The emotional account is much fuller and more complex. Whilst all of us had retained some contact to a greater or lesser extent with one or two others of the group and the School more generally, we had not communicated, or been together as a body, since December 1977 when the year group started to leave Tonbridge. As one of us commented at first it was a bit surprising to see how we had all aged (one never really recognises one’s own ageing process!) but it only took a very short time to start recognising and remembering mannerisms, expressions, characteristic body stances which opened the way to seeing each other as the same boys who had shared those formative years together at Tonbridge. It was truly glorious to indulge those memories, to remember the simplicity of the friendships and the warmth and comfort that comes from shared experiences. It was remarkable to see how much of School life was still imprinted on our memories, and also to see in some cases how much was forgotten (and indeed that recollections of certain events may vary!).

We had many laughs throughout the day. The strength of the connection we felt and the simple pleasure we took in each other’s company amazed us all.  It was a truly joyful day and, acknowledging that if we wait another 50 years the attendance level would likely be much reduced, we are planning to meet again next year.

With sincere thanks to Tara Biddle for helping us get back in contact, to Wendy Challis (HS Matron) and Patrick North (HS Housemaster) for their hospitality and time back at the house, to the various masters we met and talked with during our tour and to Toby and Tom for guiding us round the School.

Rob O'Neill 
(HS 73-77)


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