I joined Bernard and Helen Valentine, Meetings and Events Executive for Shrigley Hall Hotel and Spa, as they finalised arrangements and took a look at the room where the Saturday activities will take place, which, Bernard explained, was the old kitchen, though looking much grander these days. Helen was brought up nearby, and remembers attending the College's famous garden parties as a child.
The corridors of the hotel display a collection of enlarged photos from its Salesian Missionary College days, and Helen said guests frequently ask about the school and the boys who went there. We had immediate proof of this when we were looking at an old classroom photo, and were approached by a couple who have often stayed at the hotel and wondered what life had been like in when it was a school. They were delighted to talk to Bernard and get the inside track (it sounded a bit like Hogwarts meets the Vatican!) and they were impressed by the tremendous affection the Old Boys still have for Shrigley so many years on.
When we met up with Mike and his wife, Helen, Bernard took charge of a supply of books on Shrigley written by Mike with Peter Roebuck, which will be available to buy during the reunion for £5 a copy, to help with expenses. We gathered for a group photo in the old quad, and Mike pointed out to me the wooden framework high on a wall, where the Angelus bell used to hang.
After a very pleasant lunch with Bernard's son and grandson, who had accompanied him on his mammoth one-day round trip fto Cheshire, Bernard took us on a fascinating tour of the building, pointing out what each area and room was in his schooldays, including the old boot room, where shoes were polished several times a day (though showers were only once a week!). We didn't encounter the legendary White Lady, thank the Lord, but I'm sure if she's still there, she's finding things pretty different now.
We ended our time at Shrigley with a visit to the Salesian cemetary and spent a few moments quietly in the sunshine paying our respects to the boys and Salesians buried there.
Bernard and his family in th Salesian Cemetary at Shrigley
If any Shrigley Old Boys or SDBs would like to attend the reunion and haven't yet let Bernard know, please get in touch with him as soon as you can, or email me and I'll pass your message on. It's going to be a wonderful occasion.
Find out more about the history of the Salesian Missionary College at Shrigley on the Shrigley Association site