Contest winners find each other 50 years after school

From left, Russell Bridges, Chris Young, Marcella Young, Jarvis West and Alicia Phillips enjoy afternoon tea at The Grosvenor Hotel after winning the treat as part of the launch of the new Oxford Tube coaches

From left, Russell Bridges, Chris Young, Marcella Young, Jarvis West and Alicia Phillips enjoy afternoon tea at The Grosvenor Hotel after winning the treat as part of the launch of the new Oxford Tube coaches

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

TWO school friends had an unexpected reunion in London after not seeing each other for 50 years.

Alicia Phillips and Marcella Young won a competition through Stagecoach as part of its launch of the new Oxford Tube fleet.

By chance, they ended up sitting at the same table as part of winning the treat – afternoon tea at London’s Grosvenor Hotel – and quickly discovered they were former schoolmates.

The duo had been pupils at Botley Primary School, in Elms Road, Botley, between 1958 and 1964.

At that time they were, of course, known by their maiden names Alicia Adderley and Marcella Pether.

Mrs Young, who lives in Glebelands, Headington, was delighted to see her former classmate.

The 61-year-old said: “I knew that I recognised the face but when we discovered the connection, I just couldn’t believe it.”

While both remember happy times at primary school together, they went their separate ways, as Mrs Phillips headed to St Juliana’s Convent in Begbroke, which is now closed.

A mother-of-one, Mrs Phillips, who lives in Westminster Way, Botley, has fond memories of her time at primary school alongside Mrs Young.

Class sizes were much bigger back then – with 100 children split between two classes.

Mrs Phillips, also 61, said: “There was an amount of naughtiness because of the class sizes.

“I was sent out lots for giggling mainly.

“I remember my first day in Miss King’s class I had my hand rapped with a ruler.

“It’s unheard of now.

“We still had the cane too as a punishment. It was very, very rarely used but it put the fear of God in us.

“I remember being so happy there – I have such happy memories. It was a fantastic time.”

The retired Oxford City Council secretarial worker added: “Hopefully, some other classmates might get in touch with us now and then we can have a reunion.

“We had such a lovely afternoon reminiscing about old times and I enjoyed travelling to and from London.

“A big thank you to all the staff from Stagecoach who organised such a special event and the fact I met an old friend there was the icing on the cake.”

They won the trip through the #CoachWithAView competition which celebrated the launch of the new Oxford Tube coaches, which went into service last Wednesday.

Business development manager Karen Coventry said “It was nice that Oxford Tube was responsible for reuniting these two friends after all this time. All guests enjoyed their trip to London and were excited to be the first passengers on a new Oxford Tube coach.”

Stagecoach announced in March it was to replace its entire fleet of Oxford Tube coaches at a cost of more than £10m.

The coaches take passengers from the city centre into London. The service celebrated 25 years in 2012.

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