THERE was recognition and delight along with puzzled looks and the odd confession as former pupils, staff and governors met to celebrate a Poole school’s 50th anniversary.

St Edward’s School in Oakdale opened as a small Roman Catholic secondary school with 200 pupils aged 12 to 15 in September 1963, and among those returning for its half-century reunion were some of its first intake.

Now with 1,100 students aged 11 to 18, many of those who met to reminisce in the original school hall were stunned at how big their small school had grown to become St Edward’s RC CE VA School.

Brian Young, 64, from Wimborne said: “I am amazed how much it has changed.” He had fond memories of his woodwork teacher John Cherowbrier, who helped him get started with a local joinery firm. “We had great encouragement from the staff.”

Studying photos from those early years, Malcolm Phillips, 63, from Broadstone said: “A lot of memories are coming up. The names are a blank but the faces are familiar.”

He recalled the delight of going to a brand new school after being taught in a little church while waiting for St Edward’s to open. “This to us was absolutely wonderful,” he said.

The first chairman of governors, Jeanne Bisgood recalled: “This was built as a two-form entry secondary modern. It was very, very small. Look at the number of staff.” There were 10.

Archives were raided to find original old documents and photos and many former pupils were tracked down by maths teacher Bernadette Cherowbrier, daughter-in-law of the original woodwork teacher.

And in a box was found the head girls cup, which brought a confession from the school’s second head girl Mary Stone (formerly Forrester), now 63, whose two sons were also educated at the school.

“I was so excited I had won this cup – I was thrilled to bits,” she said.

But taking it home to show her family she tripped over a piece of wood her father had left out to guard some new concrete.

“I was utterly bereft. He spent hours tapping and tapping and trying to get the dent out,” she said.

Headteacher Pola Bevan said: “It has been an absolutely fabulous experience to see so many past students and staff over the years enjoying each other’s company and catching up. It has been a real event.”