Huntingdon school friends reunite 80 years after last lessons together

Elizabeth Atkinson and Pip Harrison.

Elizabeth Atkinson and Pip Harrison. - Credit: Archant

Having left Huntingdon Grammar School in the 1930s, Pip Harrison and Elizabeth Atkinson are most likely to be the oldest surviving pupils, ending a search that was sparked by the school’s forthcoming 450th anniversary.

The Old Huntingdonians’ Association (OHA) is planning a series of events to mark next year’s milestone, and decided to embark on a hunt to find the oldest surviving former students.

The search led to Mr Harrison and Mrs Atkinson, who was known at school as Betty Softly, and they were reunited last month at Mrs Atkinson’s 99th birthday celebrations.

The pair were friends in the school sixth form in 1932/3. Mr Harrison left school in 1933 and Mrs Atkinson left a year later.

Both went on to have careers in teaching. Mrs Atkinson has been living in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, but has just moved to Germany to be nearer her daughter. Mr Harrison still lives in Huntingdonshire and often attends OHA events at Hinchingbrooke House.

Former head of Hinchingbrooke School and President of the OHA, Peter Downes, said: “It was wonderful to see these two old friends and former pupils together again at Elizabeth’s 99th birthday party a couple of weeks ago. They were in good spirits and still very bright and ‘on the ball’.”

As part of the anniversary celebrations, the OHA will be publishing a new history of the way Huntingdon Grammar School, originally based in the High Street at the Cromwell Museum building, evolved to become Hinchingbrooke School – further details will be available soon.