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News > 35 Years of Co-education > Co-Education Memories from Alastair Meek, OH 1967-77

Co-Education Memories from Alastair Meek, OH 1967-77

Alastair met his future wife in the Sixth Form Common Room at Hymers College in the late 1970s

When I started at Hymers College, Mr Gillah was Head of the Junior School (OH Staff 1954-75) and Mr Roach the Senior School (OH Staff 1951-71). There was no talk of girls. This was a school where you played rugger and cricket and joined the Combined Cadet Force.

So in 1975, when Mr John ‘Jake’ Ashurst was Headmaster (OH Staff 1971-83), I joined the Sixth Form. This entitled us to go in the Sixth Form Common Room. But arriving there, we found the small room in the corner was suddenly out of bounds to boys and was to be the domain of two girls – Véronique Bouchet, OH 1975-77 and Jackie Sprinz, OH 1975-77. The only other girls we had come across before, were those from Newland High School who always appeared in the school plays. There were always lots of boys auditioning for parts on those occasions!

But to have girls in school every day was a completely different thing all together. We were not sure what to do. Or what to say even. Social distancing had arrived long before the pandemic! After a year, they multiplied and another two arrived. One of these was Helen Parsons, OH 1976-78, who was destined to be in Neil King’s form (OH Staff 1974-2006).

One thing that Neil instilled in all his students was a lifelong love of theatre. As well as visiting theatres in places like Leeds, York, and Sheffield, there were the annual trips to London, staying at his mother-in-law’s house in Gravesend and to Stratford upon Avon. So, it was that on the 30th September 1976, after a production of Romeo and Juliet starring Ian McKellen and Francesca Annis, Helen and I began a romance of our own, deciding that co-educational schooling had a future at Hymers!

Our lives took a different route but after a chance meeting on Friends Reunited, we discovered that, just like Romeo and Juliet, we were indeed ‘star-crossed lovers’. So on the 30th September 2023 we returned to Stratford, watched a production this time of Macbeth and I asked Helen to be my wife. It could have been nowhere else!

So, I would like to thank Hymers College for welcoming girls and making me the happiest of men!

Alastair Meek, OH 1967-77

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