School reunion forty years on at Sidmouth hotel

PUBLISHED: 17:30 04 June 2018

From left to right: Liz Whiston, Vivienne Bess, Lulu Guttuso, Hilary Caldwell

From left to right: Liz Whiston, Vivienne Bess, Lulu Guttuso, Hilary Caldwell

Archant

There were high jinks, memories shared of a scary headmistress and talks of an absent actress at a reunion, marking 40 years since a group of former convent pupils left school.

Leweston School, Sherborn, leavers 1978 including Kristin Scott Thomas back left.Leweston School, Sherborn, leavers 1978 including Kristin Scott Thomas back left.

The gathering which included four ex-students from the Convent of the Assumption, Sidmouth - now St John’s, all went to Leweston School in Sherborne, Dorset.

In all 15 former pupils attended the reunion at The Royal Glen Hotel, travelling from as far afield as Ireland, Austria and Italy. Hotel owners Hilary Caldwell and Vivienne Bess, who were among them, offered their hotel as the venue after a clash with the Royal Wedding meant London was going to be difficult.

One woman was unable to make it due to her flight having two abortive attempts at take off in Paris. And three others joined by Skype from Melbourne in Australia.

One former classmate who wasn’t there - she has never done reunions - was actress Kristin Scott Thomas. She won a best supporting BAFTA for her role in Four Weddings and a Funeral and most recently played Churchill’s wife Clementine in Darkest Hour which won Gary Oldman best actor award at this year’s Oscars.

Forty years on - school friends gather for a reunion in SidmouthForty years on - school friends gather for a reunion in Sidmouth

Hilary said: “It was a fantastic reunion. Everybody remembered a lot and realised we were all in the same boat at that time.

“It was lovely to have that extra time together. It meant that we could speak to everybody properly.”

The former schoolgirls had a celebration dinner at the hotel on the Friday evening and went for a Jurassic coast walk and Devon cream tea on the Saturday. One of them also went for a swim in the hotel pool while three of the old classmates went for a dip in the sea.

Hilary said: “I didn’t like the school but I think you all stick together very much in that sort of thing, so lots of good friends’ memories.

“The Mother Superior was very, very strict. She ruled with a rod of iron. The main stairs were black and you weren’t allowed to go up and down. If you got detention you had to clean them.Everybody reminisced a lot. I suppose you could say it was cathartic.”

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