Plenty to celebrate at Blakebrook

Page MP Janelle Saffin and long-time Blakebrook resident Doug Lock look through a copy of the Blakebrook Public School centenary book launched at the school last Thursday.

A triple-whammy celebration for historic Blakebrook Public School last Thursday drew a few former students back to their old haunt, including octogenarian Doug Lock.

Around 50 people, including Page MP Janelle Saffin, Lismore mayor Merv King and former students joined the 70 current students and three teachers at the rural school for the official opening of its library extension, the dedication of its centenary time capsule and the launch of its centenary book, followed by a morning tea.

Eighty-nine-year-old Mr Lock, who has lived most of his life in the Blakebrook area and started at the school in 1925, said he enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on his time at the school and its vital place in the wider community. He said he had some very fond memories of his time there.

I never had much interest in school and when I was nine this thing (pointing to his leg) got crook on me and 10 years later I lost the thing, the oldest ex-pupil there said, explaining how he lost his leg to osteomyelitis. I was 19 and by then I was more interested in farming, but I later took up a job in saddlery, eventually spending 25 years running a saddlery business in Lismore.

He said the schools 150-page centenary book Blakebrook Public School Centenary 1907-2007 100 years of Public Education brought memories flooding back.

Mr Lock also showed time had not affected his sense of humour either, telling Ms Saffin when she asked him how he was going, that he was currently batching, as his wife of 58 years, Joyce, had been placed in a nursing home.

Earlier, Ms Saffin unveiled a plaque with school captains Sophie Curran and Lochie Perren to mark the opening of the school library extension, funded by a federal $63,000 Investing In Our Schools grant.

In a magnanimous gesture, Ms Saffin praised her predecessor Ian Causley for having done the leg work for the library grant.

She also pointed out it was a nice personal touch to be welcomed on arrival at the school by teacher/librarian Dianne McInnes, who she went to teachers college with a long time ago.

Southern Cross University post-graduate teacher and historian Dr Robert Smith, who launched the book, said it was a work the rural school should be very proud of.

As a school teacher himself for 20 years, Dr Smith said he was an avid reader of school histories because it told him a lot about the community and gave him a sense of its history.

The book was a source of reference, amusement and reflection and it was rare in its dealing of the past and present of the school community.

He said that with technology such as Mp3s, young people today were much better placed to record their own social history and told the young students they could go to grandpa or grandma to tell them more about their families.

Flipping through the books pages, Dr Smith said he could, among many items of interest, see the changes in technology affecting the school and wider community and the tradition of war service.

Principal Sherry Fletcher said the time capsule would be re-opened in 25 years and she had made a date for all the kids to be here for the occasion.

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