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Shropshire class of '54 reunited after 60 years apart

South Shropshire | News | Published:

Six decades ago they were college chums in Shropshire just starting out in a farming industry still recovering from war-time rationing.  

In the 60 years since they last saw each others' faces the whole industry changed – but for the Harper Adams class of 1954 some things were still the same.

Six former students of the agricultural college near Newport came from across the UK to meet up at Ludlow Food Centre for an anniversary reunion – and some of them had not seen each other since graduation.

Organiser Maggie Teague, 78, who still lives in Shropshire, in the village of Munslow near Craven Arms, said: "Most of us haven't seen each other for 60 years. It's lovely because we all kept our spirits and our humour. We're a very jolly lot, we always were."

She said only 20 of the class of 31 were still around, and only six could make it down on the day – but it wouldn't be the last reunion.

"We're hoping for another reunion next year, but at hopefully at Harper Adams itself," she said.

She said all of them had studied the national diploma in poultry husbandry, as well as agriculture, and all had gone into the poultry industry, although they had dispersed across the country.

The industry had completely changed during their lifetime, she said.

The Harper Adams class of 1954. Some of the former students from the university have met up for a 60-year reunion.

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Don Walls, the oldest of the group at 84, agreed. He said: "Chicken became everyday food at a very economical price, due to modern methods.

"One thing that has happened is that when we started everything was free range – that is not a new thing. Over the years the methods became more intensive, but that is frowned upon now and free range is the order of the day again.

"We have seen that complete cycle and we've worked through it all," he said.

Anne Stubbs, 79, had travelled all the way from Northumberland to be there.

"It's quite amazing to be back together again really. This lady even recognised me!" she said pointing to Betty Law, 81, who had come from North Yorkshire with her husband David, 78.

Mr and Mrs Law met at Harper Adams where they were college sweethearts, marring four years later in 1958. She said a lot was very different. She said: "Of course things have changed, they're bound to have done. But it's only when you get talking that you realise it is not just about what you look like – people's characters are still the same."

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