IT MAY be 50 years since they first met, but these former John Mason pupils picked up right where they left off.

Former John Mason School pupils who joined the school in 1963 returned to Abingdon for a reunion.

They gathered at the Boundary House pub in Oxford Road to share memories and pore over old pictures.

One of the organisers, Cathy French, who is now 61 and lives in Wootton, said: “It just suddenly occurred to us that it was a bit special because it was 50 years since we started at John Mason.

“Lots of us have kept in touch over the years, but we thought we ought to have a big get-together.

“It was quite a small school in those days. When we started, they had only got up to the third year and the year groups were very small, so everybody knew everyone else.”

Established as a grammar school in 1960, the school was named after 16th century intellectual, diplomat and spy Sir John Mason, who was born in Abingdon.

The Wootton Road school has since grown to have more than 900 pupils.

Lorry driver Bill Doring, who lives in East Hendred, said: “I enjoyed all the friendships but I didn’t enjoy school very much. English interested me but nothing much else did really.”

Mike Smith, who went on to work as a cartographer and now lives in Cornwall, said: “It was quite a forward thinking school. People cannot believe that in the 1960s, they were already teaching Chinese.

“There are quite a lot of us who keep in touch anyway and some of us see each other every year. It is nice to see some of the people who I haven’t met since.

“I used to live in Harwell, which at the time was out of the catchment area, but my parents didn’t want me to go to Wantage so I used to come to school by bus.

“I think it is an achievement still being in touch with each other for all these years without HAVING Facebook, emails and texts.”

Angela Edwards, 61, who now lives in Wales, said: “I enjoyed my time at John Mason. I thought we had a very good headteacher in Derrick Hurd, who introduced us to a lot of new ideas.”

“We did lots of outdoorsy things and there were always good productions being put on that we got involved in. “We are all grey now, but at least we are all grey together.”