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Reunion Chapel Service

Saturday 4th September 2010

Paul Hayler et al

The Chapel looked wonderful for the 50th Anniversary of its dedication. Priory school has clearly looked after it well. The cork floor was shining, the original chairs looked as good as new despite 50 years of school use, and Mr Bradshaw's portrait captured him just as we remember him. But what immediately caught the eye was the brand new set of altar drapes, brilliantly made in the original style. We owe a real debt of gratitude to Julia Langford (whose mother was Mary Worsell, school secretary in the 60s and 70s), Jean de Young, Pauline Carter and friends from the "Old Town Quilters" of Eastbourne who bravely took on the huge task of making the drapes so beautifully.

The Chapel was full for the service and the massed old boys sang like a choir, filling the chapel with voices just a little deeper but much louder than in their school days.

Ivor Wycherley had opened the service, recalling the history of the chapel from the very beginning. It started during the war when NRB was in hospital. Ivor was on leave and visited him there. Mr Bradshaw, clearly moved by the reports of old boys losing their lives in the fighting, outlined his vision of a memorial chapel and asked Ivor if he would be willing to be the treasurer for the ensuing appeal.

Michael Norgrove Then Michael Norgrove read "On looking at an Old School Photograph". This nostalgic poem lead to the reading of the names of the 55 old boys whose deaths in the 2nd world war moved Neville Bradshaw to plan our chapel as a memorial to them. As John Davey and Brian Honess named them there were so many Sussex surnames we all recognised from our school days. It was a real shock to realise just how many from our school had died in a war in which the casualties were reputed to have been relatively light by the standards of earlier wars. There were so many names and such a high proportion from the RAF.

Jonathan Wadman "Abide with Me" was followed by Jonathan Wadman reading the words that had been first used by his grandfather, Neville Bradshaw at the dedication service in 1960. The words end, "This building is designed and built not for a day, not for a year, but for a thousand years. Those we commemorate will rest in the hearts of men. And many a boy in the quiet of this Chapel, will achieve an awareness of Christ and will learn the great lesson of giving. And for all those who have learnt and practised it the trumpet will sound on the other side."

Bishop Benn This theme was followed up by the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, The Bishop of Lewes in his address to the Old Boys. He spoke of the gift day at his church when an unknown woman gave her most precious gift. Wrapped in paper, in the church offering, was an engagement ring. On the paper was written "I give my most precious gift to the one who gave everything for me". The jeweller who bought the ring was so moved by that note that he started attending church too. The Bishop tied the theme of sacrifice, past and present, into his sermon in a way that tugged at the emotions and linked together all those who sacrifice so much for the things that are most important to them.

Seamstresses Martyn Relf introduced Julia Langford of the Eastbourne Quilters. She was very honest in admitting that the task had stretched them to their limit and that they felt very relieved to have finished it on time. Each of the Martlets was designed and sewn by a different member of the group, but they all match so perfectly - Mr Bradshaw would have been delighted to see the detailed workmanship involved. Pictured here (from left to right) are Julia Langford, Pauline Carter and Jean de Young.

The service ended with "Floreat Lewesia" and "Guide me O thou Great Redeemer", which gave us the chance to sing out loud again, accompanied by David Cotton on the organ. As the congregation left there was £1203.50p in the offering baskets to help maintain the chapel until we meet at our next reunion - possibly in 2013 ?

Further photographs taken on the day

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