APS Reunion 2021
Saturday 2nd October
Holiday Inn Hotel, Liverpool.

Liverpool seems to delight in preparing surprises for our reunions. In 2017 they closed Lime Street station. This year they prepared a metal maze and finding a way across the road from the station to the entrance of the Holiday Inn was far more difficult than it had any right to be!!
However, as I have often said in the past, I M Marsh students are nothing if not resourceful and find a way they did. They even managed the trickier journey to the Museum through the same maze – the prize being an Honorary B.Ed degree. Maybe next year we will be rewarded with a working Lime Street station, an effortless walk across to the hotel and no Covid!!

What a ‘bumper’ reunion this was to be. 120 past students had booked places – the maximum number that the room could legally hold. Coffee and delicious pastries awaited those who arrived for the day. Many had
stayed overnight and some had travelled from as far away as Switzerland, Nova Scotia and Iceland. There was clearly not enough space for ‘Linda’s shuffle’ to involve any moving around the room, so she had already allocated everyone to a group. The groups were composed of a mix of years and the task was to recall the various different experiences of their time at I M Marsh. Everyone was initially a little reluctant but as the amusing stories started, it didn’t take long for them to go into full flow. It was refreshing to have so many past students from the 70s who brought new stories to tell. Eventually some of the stories were told to the whole room accompanied by much laughter. I think we may see some of them in the Journal next Spring!

After a break for coffee and more pastries (time to diet later!!), we settled down to hear a talk from Sarah Green, a great niece of our founder, Irene Mabel Marsh. Sarah knew her as ‘Auntie Rene.’ Irene was one of a large family of six boys and four girls. At the age 18 she trained in Southport where she was introduced to the Swedish method of gymnastics. In 1900, still at the tender age of eighteen, she rented premises in Bedford Road and started to train her own students calling the premises the Liverpool Training College.
In 1919, Irene bought Barkhill and moved there with all her students. She loved gardening and soon set to work on the gardens at Barkhill. Although she never had children herself, she was very fond of her wider family and entertained them all at Barkhill at Christmas. She bought presents for her many nieces and nephews, had a playroom and a nursery furnished as well as taking them on other holidays. She bought a holiday home in Abersoch and built a small wooden house there which she called ‘The Shanty.’ Her family holidayed with her there, sometimes along with her students who slept in bell tents on land above the Shanty. Sarah remembered spending holidays there as a child and described it as terribly basic with no heating and no running water. Irene had a close friend, Kathleen Henderson (known to the family as Aunty Kathleen) a lifelong companion who inherited the shanty upon Irene’s death. Auntie Elspeth bought it from Kathleen. A few years ago, upon Elspeth’s death it was sold for £2.5million!! The Shanty was demolished, and an ultra-modern building is being developed on the site.
Sarah’s talk was enthralling. We could have listened for hours, but lunch was calling………….

We enjoyed a buffet lunch and returned at 2pm to the meeting room to hold our Annual General Meeting. Barbara opened the meeting by asking everyone to stand to remember all those members who had passed away since we last met. In view of the extended time since our last meeting, this was a disturbingly large number and included one of our committee members, Professor Pat Shenton OBE, Hon Member and Past Staff, who had died very suddenly only a few weeks before the reunion.

Before embarking on the business of the AGM there was a sudden interruption as blue shirted ladies paraded in front of us. Was this an Insulate Britain protest or an in-house cabaret? No, it was just the Year of 1968 celebrating their recently awarded honorary degree. Much clapping, laughing and camera clicking ensued. Eventually Barbara was able to restore order and we proceeded with the agenda.

Kath Simpson (Fahey1972), our Membership Secretary reported that we had gained 116 new members over the past two years and currently membership stands at 332 full members and 7 Honorary Members. She reminded us that subscriptions are due on 1st November 2021 and warned that, due to the rising costs of publishing plus postage, we will not be able to provide a Journal to anyone who has not paid subs by that date. Finally, Kath appealed for volunteers for Set Reps for years 1959,1966 & 1976.

Linda Bond (Ward 1967) our Journal Editor encouraged people to send in their news for next year’s Journal by 18th October 2021. If members could type their news on a Word document and attach to an email, this would make her work easier.

Kath Dowthwaite (1972), our Treasurer, reported that it had been a busy year with 119 new members and 100 applications for the reunion responsible for a huge influx of cheques. Renewal slips, provided in the ‘summer mailing,’ now include a BACS method of payment. If you are using this method please quote in the ‘Payment Reference’ box, your name and year of leaving college so that Kath can identify you.

Ann Walker (Hodkin 1964) our Website Coordinator, reported that during the covid lockdown, our digital presence had proved invaluable. She had emailed numerous forms, both to join APS and to book for the reunion. The additional Honorary Degree ceremony had made things even busier, and the Facebook page had been invaluable in helping members with many of the difficulties they encountered.

Officers and Committee Members were re-elected as a group to serve a further 3yr term. These are Kath Simpson (Membership Secretary), June Nash (Reunion Organiser), Prof Sheila Wigmore (Archives), Ann Walker (Website), Meg Maunder, Jackie Wright and Sylvia Ellis (Committee). Additionally, we were delighted to welcome Elizabeth Shea (nee Urwin 1977) as our new Secretary.

Professor Sheila Wigmore reported that, despite the sad death of Professor Pat Shenton OBE, she would be continuing the work to finish the book detailing the history of I M Marsh on which they had been working together.

After the meeting closed, there was time to chat with friends, take group photographs, and even drink yet another cup of coffee…..or tea! Later in the evening we enjoyed a silver service dinner which I understand concluded with some fine rendering of ‘In our Liverpool Town,’ ‘Maggie, Maggie May,’ and even ‘You’ll never walk alone’ – amongst others!!

Members of the Committee were delighted that everyone seemed to have an enjoyable day and they hope that members will join us next year when we plan to return to Liverpool, 1st October 2022. Put the date in your diaries!! Details and booking forms will be in next year’s Journal, normally published late March/early April and will be on our website www.immarshpaststudents.org.uk shortly thereafter.

If you would like to become a member of the Association, you can apply through the ‘How to Join’ section of the website. You can always reach us by filling in the ‘Contact Us’ tab on the website. We are always happy to hear your opinions and /or suggestions. Please make sure to fill in your email address carefully on any of the forms – it is our only way of reaching you!

Ann Walker (Hodkin 1964)

The Holiday Inn – City Centre
Lime Street, Liverpool