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Barnstaple ‘old boy’ Ivan is thought to be oldest surviving classmate

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 June 2017

Blacksell's ‘old boy’ Ivan Turner will celebrate his 90th birthday on the same day as former classmates attend the fourth full school reunion of Barnstaple Boys Secondary Modern School. Picture: Tony Freeman

Blacksell's ‘old boy’ Ivan Turner will celebrate his 90th birthday on the same day as former classmates attend the fourth full school reunion of Barnstaple Boys Secondary Modern School. Picture: Tony Freeman

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Ivan to celebrate 90th birthday on same day as annual reunion at rugby club.

Around 100 former Barnstaple Boys Secondary Modern School classmates got together for last year's reunion at Barnstaple Rugby Club. Picture: Tony Freeman Around 100 former Barnstaple Boys Secondary Modern School classmates got together for last year's reunion at Barnstaple Rugby Club. Picture: Tony Freeman

Barnstaple Boys Secondary Modern School ‘old boy’ Ivan Turner is thought to be the oldest.

Ivan will celebrate his 90th birthday on the same day he and former classmates attend the fourth full school reunion of the school at Barnstaple Rugby Club on June 24.

He attended the school – also known as Blacksell’s Academy after former headmaster John Blacksell, and later as Derby College – on its opening day in 1939 and left aged 14 to work for the gas board.

Asked about the most memorable recollection of his school days, Ivan mentioned his headmaster Phillip Heppenstall’s use of the cane, something mentioned by many of the ‘old boys’ contacted by reunion organisers.

Gerald Thorne is busy organising another reunion. Picture: Tony Freeman Gerald Thorne is busy organising another reunion. Picture: Tony Freeman

One unfortunate former pupil recalled standing in line outside the headmaster’s study to deliver a message but was caned before he could explain.

Former pupil Tony Freeman, who launched a search for the school’s oldest surviving ‘old boy’, said: “It was surprising how many of the old boys who attended the school when it started are still in North Devon.

“But former pupils now living abroad are making arrangements to travel, including Paul Harris from Los Angeles who is not letting a small thing like a current heart attack get in the way,” added Tony.

The reunion starts at 7pm and it is hoped that more than 100 former classmates will still be able to turn up for what might be the last reunion.

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