This month I’m continuing to add to the archive of images from Christleton Primary School, by choosing a selection of some of the celebratory occasions we shared. These are just a small sample from the archive, starting with images of the five girls from Ladakh, in Northern Kashmir, brought to the village by Mrs Gertrude Wright. Their stay co-incided with a good fall of snow in the village, something we were not used to, and it was great to share the cold conditions with them, and they were very willing subjects to photograph. An amusing incident 0ccured when we hired a small minibus to take them to the Lake District for the weekend. I stopped near Thirlmere on route to Keswick to show them one of the highest peaks in the Lakes. Ruth turned to me and said, “ Mr Cummings you said we were going to see your mountains. I can’t see them”. We were looking at snow covered Helvellyn, which stands at 950m (3,116ft). Their home town Leh, is at 3,505m (11,500ft) and their nearest big mountain is only K2 8,611m, (28,251ft), the second highest mountain in the world. You can see what she meant. What was also extraordinary about this visit, is that Derwentwater was completely frozen over, and the large waterfall behind the Derwentwater Youth Hostel where we stayed was a cascade of thick ice. I had never experienced this on any of my previous visits to the Lake District, and I don’t think it’s happened since.
This Lakes weekend was a memorable part of their stay in England, but we were so privileged to be able to share their stories, of their lives in the kingdom of Ladakh. As I have explained previously, Mrs Wright founded their little school at Shey, a village outside of the capital Leh, to accommodate children of primary age, who were refugees, coming across the mountains from Tibet. The School at that time was called St James’ School at Shey, although I think it has now expanded to become the Lamdon co-ed English medium School, a much bigger establishment. It is now run by a Himalayan Childrens Charity, with the blessing of the Dalai Lama. I have a picture of Mrs Wright meeting the Dalai Lama in Oxford, together with her good friend the late Margaret Croston, who was Chair of Governors at Christleton, and it was through her good auspices that the children came to stay in Christleton, and came to study at the Primary and High Schools.
It was really special that they were so willing to enter into life in the school and village, as can be seen from the pictures. They brought their traditional village costume and dances to our Christmas Celebrations that year, and also stayed long enough to take part in our play at Eastertime, “The Man from Galilee”. The five young ladies, Anju, Bilques, Ruth, Ruth Mary and Bimla were from different cultures, Hindi, Moslem and Christian, but integrated so well with all of us. It was one of the highlights of my teaching career, to be able to share our facilities at school with them. They were a credit to their families, and since returning to Ladakh, have become important figures in their own communities, two of the girls becoming Doctors, and another a teacher.
There are a variety of images of school life in this collection of pictures, from the float used to publicise the Christmas Fair, to celebrations of Infant Plays and Junior Assemblies. One picture shows Chairman of Governors, Geoff Clifton, speaking at an Assembly about his life working in Africa, especially about the countryside and how famine struck villages regularly because of the great heat, and lack of rainfall. Some of the other topics covered in this section are, from the Village Fun Run, in this case sponsored by the Beefeater Inn at The Trooper, a family Orienteering event held in Delamere Forest, when a class of children were staying at Foxhowl, the Cheshire County Outdoor Centre, and a Year 6 Fashion Display.
To be continued......
Ladaki Girls in Church 1987
Traditional Dance & costume from Ladakh
Year 6 with Ladaki Girls in snow
Ladaki Girls at Christleton Primary School
Easter Story The Man from Galilee
Ladaki Girls in Infant Dept.
Ladaki Girls with Mrs Wright
Gertrude Wright and the Croston Family with the Dalai Lama
Traditonal School Christmas Play
Christmas Fair Float
Christmas at the Primary School
Typical Friday Assembly
Infants on route to PlayGroup Christmas Play
Infant Christmas Production
Preparation for Christmas Play in Church
Friday Assembly on Africa with Geoff Clifton
Friday Assembly with Geoff Clifton
Christleton PrimarySchool Fun Run
Year 6 Fashion Display
Year 6 Fashion display
Delamere Forest Orienteering