Event Reports

January 2019 Meeting

Our January meeting was a talk entitled “a School Girl’s War” by our speaker Mary Smith who was
an ex headmistress of Maidstone Grammar School for Girls. Mary started her talk by explaining that,
in 2013 on the school site, they found the entrance to a WWII air raid shelter. They employed a
contractor to remove the concrete and debris that was blocking the shelter and found the structure
completely intact. Once they had found this structure, they furnished it with authentic 1940’s
objects and invited groups of primary school children to take lessons in the shelter to teach them
about school life during the war. Just after the unearthing of the shelter, Mary also made another
wonderful discovery in the archive cupboard at the school. The Art teacher at the school during the
war years, Helen Keen, had documented the lives of the school pupils and staff in a collection of
paintings and sketches in a book entitled ‘Maidstone Grammar School for Girls War Diary 1939 –
1946’. The paintings included many ones of the staff and pupils having lessons in the shelter and also
of the general preparations and adaptions the school made to keep everyone safe. Mary was very
excited by this find and decided to put together a book using Helen Keen’s paintings, other archives
and also the first hand memories of 53 of the old girls who’s experiences and lives had been
animated in the pictures and photographs. When the book was published, the school held a tea
party for all the old girls who had contributed to it, and some of the more able bodied ex pupils even
visited the shelters for a memorial photograph. A school building that they had not stepped inside
for 75 years! The talk was a wonderful and extremely interesting way to start our new year and
many of the members purchased the book afterwards.

Christmas Party 2018

Our December meeting was our Christmas party and also the final event in celebration of our Centenary
year.  Almost 80 of our members enjoyed a sit-down three-course meal with a delicious Christmas
menu, finished off with coffee, mints and mince pies.  The whole evening was organised, with great
attention to detail, by the Social Committee who worked very hard to ensure an entertaining, festive
and fun evening was had by everyone.  Some of the highlights of the evening (apart from the delicious
food) was a pass the parcel for grownups, charades, Christmas themed quizzes, a Christmas hat
competition and a very funny game to transform a member into a reindeer using balloons and tights. 
The evening was rounded off with members enjoying singing Christmas Carols and a vote of thanks from
our President, Chris Henbest who thanked members for a very wonderful evening and a fitting
conclusion to an enjoyable and rewarding Centenary year.

September 2018 meeting.

Our meeting in September was a bit different from the usual format.  It was a member's evening which included a choirmaster from The Tuneless Choir who came to lead the members in an evening of song. Once we were warmed up, Sheena the choir leader, asked us to "Sing like no one was listening" and to relax and enjoy the music.  Then Sheena guided us through some old favourites including "Save all your Kisses for Me", "The Tide is High", "Bring me Sunshine" and an old favourite guaranteed to get everyone singing, "Delilah".  Some members were enjoying themselves so much that they felt compelled to add some dance moves to enhance the occasion.  A wonderful and uplifting evening enjoyed by everyone!