​Class of ‘73 recall Academy days at moving reunion event

A ‘CLASS’ of ‘73’ reunion, which brought together former Academy students last Friday at the Angler’s Rest, proved to be incredibly moving, with 79 flocking to the venue – from as far as the US for some – to attend the nostalgia-filled event.
Gillian Ward (née Beasley) and Denise Chambers.Gillian Ward (née Beasley) and Denise Chambers.
Gillian Ward (née Beasley) and Denise Chambers.

​The school reunion had been organised by well-known Banbridge resident Alan McDowell along with a few other former students, and all involved were simply blown away by the emotion of it all.

Alan McDowell commented: “Personally, it was a very emotional experience as guests were welcomed to the event by two talented pipers playing an assortment of favourite tunes.

“Warm hugs and affectionate kisses were exchanged as we all met each other after such a long time.

Paul McCreanor, Noel McQuaid and Gary McDonald.Paul McCreanor, Noel McQuaid and Gary McDonald.
Paul McCreanor, Noel McQuaid and Gary McDonald.

“Tears of joy were in many guests’ eyes, and very quickly we were lost in conversations about days gone by.

“With all 79 guests safely arrived, we enjoyed a delicious meal served by the extremely friendly staff of the ‘Anglers’.

"I welcomed all guests and expressed huge gratitude to everybody for making the effort to be with us and rekindle old friendships and relationships.

"I also recounted a few old stories from my days at the Academy.

Jaine Minnis and party.Jaine Minnis and party.
Jaine Minnis and party.

"Andy Campbell recited Helen Steiner’s poem ‘A Golden Chain’, as an acknowledgement of the deep friendships we all share with each other.

‘He went on to surprise everybody with a poem he had personally written about the year 1973 and our memories of the Academy.

“Sadly many of our school friends are no longer with us in body, but we definitely believe they are with us in spirit.

“As a tribute to these amazing friends we displayed photos of them on a big screen, while Gary McDonald played ‘Flowers of the Forest’ on the bagpipes as the lights were lowered, and everybody got the space to remember their own memories of much loved friends and family in private.

Andy Campbell and party.Andy Campbell and party.
Andy Campbell and party.

“Josh Shannon and the band ‘Whiskey Before Breakfast’ quickly got everybody into the party mood with a host of brilliant songs and music.

“The Class of ‘73 chose the song ‘Sunshine on Leith’ by the Proclaimers as the anthem for our wee get-together, and there was much emotion as we gave this tune a bash.

“Personally, I believe this was a once-in-a lifetime event.

"It was an evening of emotion, nostalgia and connection.

Kenny Dutton, Mickey Moore, Andy Cambell.Kenny Dutton, Mickey Moore, Andy Cambell.
Kenny Dutton, Mickey Moore, Andy Cambell.

“We laughed together, we cried together, we sang together, we danced together and we hugged each other.

“I feel incredibly privileged and blessed to have been present on the night and to have rekindled old school friendships after such a long time.

"What amazed me most was the incredible bond of affection and support we still share with each other.”

A video capturing the emotion of the school reunion is available for all to view.

Just email Alan at [email protected] and he will forward the link.