LOVE them or hate them, schooldays are one of the most formative experiences of our lives and a trio of former Sharples High School pupils are planning to commemorate that fact.

Colin Smith, Lyn Blears and Kevin Cavanagh were among the very first cohort of the newly-formed school in 1974 and they are hoping to reunite with classmates who, like them, left the school in 1979.

A planned reunion for the Class of 1979 is due to take place at Astley Bridge Bowling Club on October 5 and the organisers are hoping it will be attended by as many former pupils from the original cohort as possible.

“It’s going to be great to catch up with people we haven’t seen for 40 years and find out how their lives panned out,” said Mr Smith.

Miss Blears added: “We are extending an invitation to original members of staff too.”

“After we’ve covered the expenses, any money raised will be going to Bolton Hospice,” said Mr Cavanagh.

The three were speaking at the entrance to the Hill Cot Road school and were a bit trepidatious about entering for the first time in 40 years to discuss the plan with current headteacher Ann Webster.

“It feels like the first day of school all over again,” laughed Mr Smith. “I’m half expecting a teacher to come out and tell us off for being late.”

He has fond memories of the school.

“It gave me a good all-round education and a really good base for life.

“My favourite teacher was Miss Neath, the English teacher. She pushed me and got me to do my O levels which I probably wouldn’t have got otherwise.”

In the intervening 40 years Mr Smith has had a varied career ranging from the army, joinery and engineering, but he still has vivid memories of his schooldays.

“I got the cane for fighting. I got it once which was enough for me. It sorted me out and did me good, “ said Mr Smith, whose journey to and from school involved getting two buses from his home in Tonge Moor.

Mr Cavanagh agrees that one caning was enough for him, too. He received it for fighting with his younger brother.

The progressive nature of the school was something that especially appealed to him and he cites home Economics as his favourite subject at school, which was taught by Mrs Bradley.

“Maths was fun too, but not for the right reasons. The teacher couldn’t control us so we got up to all sorts.”

Manchester Tart for dinner and being on the school swimming squad are among his fondest memories, but he also remembers an incident that illustrated how pride comes before a fall.

“I got a brand new bike and rode into school showing it off, but I fell off and everyone laughed at me,” said Mr Cavanagh.

He went on to become a commercial tyre-fitter and worked his way up to become regional manager for Pirelli before moving into business management.

“I loved every minute of school,” said Miss Blears. “It gave me a good standing in life and a good work ethic.

“Mr Gent who taught technical drawing was my favourite teacher. He was great, a real ‘modern’ teacher who was jolly and really supported us.

Miss Blears herself was equally popular and was her class representative.

The original cohort of 200 pupils had the unusual experience of inhabiting a school designed for 1,000. But they did not actually move into the new building until their second year. They spent their first year being taught in a building on Great Moor Street while building of the new school was completed.

When they finally moved into the new £1 million school, the first headteacher, Frank Kenyon, said: “It takes away the oppressive atmosphere normally associated with schools without giving way to a firm sense of orderliness.”

If you are one of the school’s first intake and are interested in attending the reunion, please get in contact with the organisers by emailing You can use the same email to send old school photographs.