Arriving at WHS as an 11-year-old I was obviously naive and ignorant about almost everything and in particular the history and situation of Woolverstone Hall, Ipswich and anything pertaining to either. My parents did not do much research about the school, which was more difficult in the pre-Google days! I think the first time I heard of Ipswich High School was when some girls appeared the WHS production of Benjamin Britten's "Let's Make an Opera" in February 1959.
I believe that WHS Deputy-Head Leslie Johnstone along with collaboration with Head of Music Merlin Channon was mainly responsible along of course with the Ipswich High School staff for facilitating this cooperation, which developed and continued over the life of WHS - though the last decade from 1980 to 1990 is murky. There followed regular annual musical and dramatic collaborations, which were of course a huge asset to WHS - and a means of having at least some contact with those mysterious beings known as girls from whom we were otherwise sequestered.
In addition to the collaborative artistic productions at WHS there were also (at least from 1960 to 1965) regular "Musical Weekends", when several schools collaborated to present an orchestral concert at the end of a weekend of practice. I can only myself remember attending one, but at Northgate Grammar School for Girls. I never went to the old IHS during my time at WHS. Did anyone else?
The point about this is that we were very fortunate to have such a friendly school in Ipswich to collaborate with on such projects - and the same is also true for the Northgate School. From my teenage perspective, IHS always represented "la crème de la crème" in terms of education for young ladies, an impression heightened when Mr Mrs Bailey and their daughter Angela arrived at WHS in 1960.
When WHS was forced to close in 1990, how fortunate again was it that the site was taken over by IHS, who since then have always been extremely respectful of the history of Woolverstone Hall and its previous tenants. A good deal of WHS memorabilia has been carefully preserved and made available to see at IHS, and visitors to the Hall have always been welcome - mainly in the summer holidays of course. For a good many years Derek Thornbery acted as liaison between WHS OBs and IHS insofar as arranging visits was concerned, but since his sad passing visits have been done on a more individual basis. The latter have ranged from personal ones to major WHS OB reunions such as the one organised on 15th September 2001 to celebrate the the 50th anniversary of the founding of WHS.
I myself have been back several times, notably when some of us arranged some barge cruises in the early 2000s, and while not meeting any staff at the time the then caretaker and others we bumped into were extraordinarily friendly - and that made such a difference to our visits. Woolverstone Hall was our home during our formative - and for many - most dramatic days, and the attachment to the place is deep and strong. Just imagine if it had been turned into a rehab centre, a posh hotel or a remand home! For it to continue as a school has been a blessing which - to some extent at least - has assuaged the loss that most of us felt when it closed.
Collaboration with IHS continues; they recently opened a combined TWITTER site for WHS and IHS Alumni where contacts can be made and reminiscences shared. What a lovely gesture.
So, THANK YOU Ipswich High School - a truly