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Babington House School Letters to Sally

Mrs Caroline Brading, St Louis, Missouri, USA

(joined Babington in 1968)

Sally,

I was at the school from 1968, when Miss Williams and Miss Manchester were the Head Mistresses.  I was 9 when I started.  I dearly remember the building;  the warm milk served in the mornings; lunch in the central front hall; Miss Minty, one of my elementary grade teachers; Iris Watts, my history teacher and dear Mr Parker who taught Latin.  I too remember Mrs Walters, and Mrs Schumaker whose commitment to PE and encouragement for my gymnastics and athletics has remained with me all my life;  I have been doing yoga regularly for in excess of 25 years!!

I clearly remember Religion classes, as the teacher was the father of one of my classmates!  I can't remember names well but remember an Abigail Dean, Christine Parkin, Ann Betambeau, Margaret Clark, Veronica ??, Wendy Davis, Ceri Pugh, etc. etc.

One of the most memorable events of my school years - was playing the Artful Dodger in the school production of Oliver.  I was asked to take the role, when the incumbent left unexpectedly.  I had to take singing lessons with the then Music Master - Mr. Dunn (he with LONG hair!!).  Once I had mastered singing in key - I was lunched into rehersals.  I loved the whole experience;  the teamwork and participation.  It was a huge success and I loved every moment - I was probably 13 or 14 the year this musical was performed.   The Home Economics classes - cooking and sewing have been a constant blessing to me as a home owner and parent.  To this day I continue to make clothes and create window treatments for my homes.  I am no gourmet cook, but certainly prefer to make a meal from scratch than buy processed food - these things were taught at school in my day!!

I remember the annual day when the whole school walked to Church in Lubbock Road and had Open Day in the afternoon.   One year the local authority had painted some of the street lights - and a number of students arrived at Christ Church with green paint on their pale blue school blazers - amazingly I wasn't one of them.  I remember encouraging classmates to play practical jokes on the teachers from time to time; nothing serious but did cause disruptions to classes sometimes - and a consequential visit to the headmistresses for discipline!

The school uniform was brown shoes, long beige socks, a knee length skirt (2" above the ground when kneeling) in winter this was navy pleated worn with a tie and shirt and cardigan and a velour hat!!!  In the summer our school blue dresses, were also worn with a tie and long socks and the hat was a boater.  Prefects wore cream boaters - everyone else navy.  I still have my tie and prefects boater.    I was in Jellicoe - the other houses were Kitchener, French and Haig at that time.

At the time I took GCE "O" levels and my Mother decided that despite good grades, I didn't have the attitude for advanced education.  At that time I did not have clear career ambitions so I went to Orpington College and did a one year Private Secretary's Certificate, since becoming a PE teacher - my passion - was no longer accessible to me.  I then worked up in London doing a variety of secretarial roles for about 4 years.  One job resulted in me taking on administrative work, and subsequently being promoted a Manager within the HR department, recruiting for an American Bank in London.  Whilst working at the organization, I watched part of the marriage celebration for Prince Charles and Diana from my office building on the Strand.  Subsequently I worked for a number of financial institutions in the City in a variety of Management roles and found my calling as a Project Manager working at County NatWest, CSFB and then Thomson Reuters.   During these years I supplemented my initial education with a series of college courses in Marketing and Project Management.  In 2002, I moved with my young family and husband to St Louis, Missouri, USA.  We have lived in the USA ever since.  I now work for a non-profit which provides residential and program services for adults with disabilities - I am the Administration Manager.     My children are 15 (daughter) and 13 (son) in High and Middle school respectively.

My parents continue to live in their home where I was raised in Chislehurst, about a 5 minute walk from your school building - and when we come to London we always walk to the School although I've never visited!   I am so pleased that the school has prospered over the years.

Thanks for bringing our memories alive!!

Best wishes,

Caroline Brading

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