A GROUP of women – some of whom had not seen each other for half a century – had a wonderful time turning back the clock as they reminisced at a school reunion organised by the former head girl.

Former pupils from Basingstoke High School for Girls, now known as The Costello School, met last year at the funeral of one of the last surviving teachers of their school, in Crossborough Hill.

It was here that the idea for the reunion was suggested – and then former head girl Jeannette Davies took on the task of trying to locate her former classmates.

She wrote a letter advertising the event, which appeared in The Gazette, and managed to trace 35 ex-pupils who gathered for the reunion marking 60 years since they started at the school in 1954. People came from all across the UK, and one woman, Valerie Meecham, travelled from Crete for the reunion.

Judith Blaza, one of the few former pupils to still live in Basingstoke, helped to organise a buffet lunch at The Apollo Hotel for the get-together.

The 71-year-old said: “Jeannette made contact using websites and email, and by asking people if they knew other people. She put a letter in The Gazette and managed to get hold of 35 of us. It was a really wonderful occasion.”

Judith, from Kempshott, Basingstoke, who went to work for pharmaceutical company Lilly after leaving school, added: “It was really lovely. Most of us haven’t met up in all those years. Some of us had kept in contact with certain girls, but many of us haven’t seen each other since we left. It was quite a surprise to see how many had turned out.

“It was amazing – one or two people hadn’t changed at all but some I would have walked past in the street and not known who they were.

“It’s not just a case of everyone had gone grey. Some people had changed their features, and everything about them had changed. But you soon get back into talking about old times.”

Photographs sent in from former classmates were put in a slideshow, and the group also enjoyed a celebratory cake made by The Apollo.