Bolton School Former Pupils

Susan Garnett (née Parry, 1952-1958)

The 2020 COVID19 pandemic prompted Old Girl Susan Garnett to share her memories of School during the 1957 flu pandemic: 

A school friend recently sent me a photocopy of a letter I had written to her in 1957 with a parcel of set work to be completed on her sick bed. No online home schooling then, but there must have been a massive postal bill. I believe there were several volunteer drivers (including the Chairman of Governors?) delivering packages to stricken Sixth Formers. I quote from my letter (in remarkably neat handwriting!):

“Dear V….
Please forgive me for depressing you by sending you work to do. We’re in a sorry state here. 125 away in the whole school [total roll c 350?] and only two in for Geography (Eileen and I – dig correct English!)”.

The letter goes on to describe the rather overactive and probably greatly exaggerated social life that poor V…. is missing. Obviously not much social distancing there. The letter ends: “Hope you recover soon – I keep forgetting to go to lessons.”

On a more practical side we surviving Sixth Formers were sent out to help in the community. I spent time at a local children’s home and thoroughly enjoyed playing with, feeding and performing all the other necessities for the babies. Another exciting venture for all was taking groups of toddlers on the bus to the local park - as long as I counted them all out and counted them back again that didn’t seem to be a problem. Another assignment was at an elderly persons' retirement home. We chatted, read letters and drank lots of tea. Park excursions tended to be more exclusive and by wheelchair. I have vivid memories of hearing of first hand experiences living with the horrors of the First World War. Most had lost close family members to the conflict and to the Spanish flu epidemic which raged throughout Europe afterwards. 

Not a hint of PPE or any disclosure and barring but that virus just wasn’t in the same league as this particularly vicious and indiscriminate one and we all seemed to be back in class to take our A levels the following year.

Susan on a School trip to the Rhineland, led by Miss Bond and Miss Faulkner

Susan on a School trip to the Rhineland, led by Miss Bond and Miss Faulkner

As Canon Chasuble in "The Importance of being Earnest"

As Canon Chasuble in "The Importance of being Earnest"