Back to the old haunts: Reg Hobson and his classmates of 50 years ago are paying their first visit back to King Edward's [Star 2/10/2003]

50 years on Reg and classmates of '53 are still the best of friends

IT was Coronation year. Hill and Tenzing conquered Everest. And in July 1953 Reg Hobson and 29 pals left the sixth form at Sheffield's King Edward VII School.

"We'll meet up again once every year," they promised themselves, as many do but seldom keep it up.

But the Class of '53 have kept their pledge for half a century, meeting up once a year for all that time. Tomorrow 13 of them will be taken around the school by head teacher Michael Lewis.

Like organiser Reg, aged 68, from Fulwood, most have not set foot in the school since the day they left. "Although I must have passed it a thousand times," he chuckles.

Reg has arranged a full programme of events for the unofficial old boys - despite time and distance taking its toll they have kept going long after the official association, the Old Edwardians, wound up. "We didn't need Friends Reunited," he says.

He gives most of the credit to former old boy Gethin Robinson, brother of BBC Radio Sheffield's Rony, who organised the previous 49 reunions and kept people together. Sadly, Gethin died in January, but had kept meticulous records so Reg has been able to take over the reins.

"Only three are still in Sheffield. They are coming from exotic places such as Norwich, although we once contacted some in Hawaii who politely declined the invitation!

"We do have someone coming this year who has spent the last 40 years in America."

The Class of '53 will spend a lot of time reminiscing. "We were just such good friends. We always find something interesting to talk about.

"A lot of people say they will meet up again after they have left school, but it's amazing we have kept going for 50 years."

He will be be taking his old pals for a trip on Supertram and a stroll around Chatsworth, as well as visiting the school.

And what was the Class of '53 like? "We were very well behaved," says Reg. "I'm hoping we can do this for another 50 years."

[Star 2/10/2003]