TEN ex-pupils of the renowned Bush Davies School of Theatre Arts – now home to Charters Village – made an emotional return to their old hunting ground.
The old school, that established an enviable national reputation for dance, closed back in 1989.
Some of the old school friends – many of whom had not seen one another since they were teenagers – had flown in from as far away as Texas in the United States to take a walk down memory lane.
“This place holds so many happy memories for us all,” said Philippa Mitchell, now 46, and one of the organisers of the get together. She lives just up the road in East Grinstead.
“It brings memories flooding back and it is wonderful to see what became an overgrown site looking so stunningly attractive and providing a lovely setting for its residents,” added Catharine Gryder (nee Lynch), who married a Texan and now lives across the Atlantic. She was in the cast of Starlight Express.
Most of the ex-pupils – many of whom went on to enjoy successful careers in dance or theatre – went to the school in the early 1980s. Some went onto the professional stage to dance in West End musicals; others taught dance or stayed in the entertainment industry.
The excitement and noise as they all reminisced with stories of their school days – either as boarders or day school pupils – reverberated around the residents’ clubhouse. They were given a tour by village manager Nigel Walter and chatted in the galleried lounge, once the school dining room, over a cup of tea.
“We were delighted to host Philippa and her old school chums and it was great to hear some of the lovely stories of their days at Bush Davies School,” said Nigel.
“It has been a wonderful day for us all to meet up and enjoy a trip back to our school days together,” added Philippa. “I’ve often driven passed the entrance and wondered what it looked like inside – now I know. It’s lovely.”