THE official closure of the Oakdale and Pontllanfraith campuses last month after the opening of the new Islwyn High School has brought back memories for many people.

The schools closed officially last year, but were known as the Pontllanfraith Islwyn campus and the Oakdale Islwyn campus until the end of June, when the sites were vacated by pupils and staff due to their move to the new school building.

With both sites now officially being vacant, many past pupils of both schools have been sharing their memories and old photographs with each other, as well as sending them in to the Campaign.

To celebrate the new school opening and the final closure of both sites, the Caerphilly Campaign has decided to put together people’s memories and photographs over the years.

Many people have been sharing their memories - including Marilyn Murphy (nee Roberts) - who was amongst the first intake of pupils to attend Oakdale Comprehensive School at the age of 12.

She said: “I was Marilyn Roberts ( nickname Maz) age 12 and I had never been inside such a big school, it took ages to get from class to class as we tried to find our way around. I loved my school days, I was a member of the school choir, John Harding was the music teacher and he wrote the school song. Every Christmas without fail he would arrange for the choir to pay a visit to Oakdale hospital so we could sing all the old songs the elderly patients enjoyed. I played instruments, joined the drama group, I captained the netball team, was red house captain and in my last year 1970-71 was immensely proud to be chosen as head girl.

“But my real passion wasn't academic it was sport, I was a pretty good all round gymnast and athlete but netball was where I excelled. I was chosen to play for Monmouthshire County and the South Wales team. Miss Tina Turner (yes that really was her name) was the PE teacher at that time, she could be firm but was always fair and she had great belief in me and encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming a PE teacher. Unfortunately you couldn't take O / A levels in Oakdale comprehensive at that time and if I wanted to go on to teacher training college I would have to have these qualifications. Unbeknown to me Miss Turner had made arrangements for me to have a transfer to Pontllanfraith grammar school so I would be able to sit the O levels.

“Realising without those qualifications I couldn't go to teacher training college she suggested that maybe I could become a physical training instructor in the armed forces. She contacted the school of physical education at RAF St Athan and arranged for me to spend a day at the camp with the trainee fitness instructors. She gave up her time, drove me there and stayed the whole time. If it wasn't for her I don't think I would have taken that path or had the life I went on to have as a corporal physical training instructor in the women’s Royal Armed Forces. I owe so much to her and I would give anything to see her again.”

Cheryl Hodges, of Oakdale, said she met her husband Mostyn Hodges at Oakdale Comprehensive School at the age of 14.

She said: “I met Mostyn there and I was 14. We are still together and will have been married for 40 years this September. Our three children also went to Oakdale Comprehensive as well.”

Along with many memories from past pupils at Oakdale Comprehensive, people from Pontllanfraith Comprehensive and Pontllanfraith Grammar Technical School. The school was officially known as a grammar school until 1976 when it became a comprehensive school.

Douglas Evans, 60, who lives in Cardiff but grew up in Oakdale, decided to set up the group so people could share their experiences at the school. He said the school gave him a lot of photos and memorabilia to use on the page.

Mr Evans said: “The page was set up by myself to preserve the memories of Pontllanfraith Grammar Technical School which existed on the site of the comprehensive school until 1975. I set it up after I heard from former classmates, Greg Murrow and Lynne Reardon (now Reed) that the building at Pontllanfraith was to be demolished once all pupils had moved to the new school. Lynne was actually a teacher at the school at the time and had access to over a thousand photos. It seemed too good an opportunity to preserve the memories.”

The group has not only let Mr Evans share old photographs but it has also reconnected him with former school friends and enabled him to set up reunions.

He said: “It was quite big thing at the age of 11 to jump on a bus and attend a school outside of my home village of Oakdale. Many of the new friends I made at the Grammar school remain friends today and I was overjoyed to meet up with so many at the recent reunions in June 2016 and January 2017.”

The Campaign is looking for more people to share their memories of living in Caerphilly during the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Why not share your old photographs and memories with us?

To send in your photos email campaign.reporter@campaignseries.co.uk with the date of the photograph, where the photograph was taken, your name and age.

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