On Friday 1st March Sylvia Deakin (nee Sidwell) paid a visit to Etone College. Sylvia is an ex-pupil of what was formerly Nuneaton High School for Girls, and came back to visit her old school on her 85th birthday, 67 years after she left to begin University life in Sheffield.
Sylvia had attended the preparatory school on the same site, after she and her family were evacuated to Nuneaton from Coventry, following a lucky escape during the Blitz, when an unexploded bomb landed in the street outside their home in Beresford Avenue.
When the 11 Plus was introduced in 1944 she passed the exam in 1945 and became a pupil of the High School. She remained a pupil until the Sixth Form when she left to go to University in Sheffield in 1952. Following her graduation in 1955 she returned to the school as a teacher.
Sylvia was delighted with her visit and surprised to see and recognise so much of her old school still being used from the dining room, which used to be the school hall where she played piano for assembly, to the Headteacher’s house at the top of the drive and the current Headteacher’s office which used to be a study room where they would sit by a large open fire.
She remembers many of the teachers were women whose husbands or ‘sweethearts’ had died in either the 1st or 2nd World War. Every Friday, one teacher would get the girls to kick their legs and sing along to ‘All the Nice Girls love a Sailor’. She loved school and felt it was her duty to work hard because she wanted to say thank you to her parents Thomas and Hilda.
She married Marcus Deakin in 1955, at Salem Baptist Chapel in Longford, Coventry. They had four children and ran a small-holding in Inkberrow, Worcestershire for many years, where she still lives. She continued to teach until she retired in 1992.
Sylvia thoroughly enjoyed her visit to Etone College, along with her daughter Jane and son-in-law Philip, and was well looked after by Mrs Emery. It was a trip down memory lane and a real birthday treat.
Mrs Emery said ‘it was a pleasure to tour the school with Sylvia and her family and to hear the many stories of the goings on at Nuneaton High School for Girls all those years ago as well as hearing first hand, how the school had changed over the years’