Comedian and alumna Jane Hill recites opening lines of Merchant of Venice at school reunion

Comedian and alumna Jane Hill recites opening lines of Merchant of Venice at school reunion

13 September 2022

Up to sixty years since they had left Portsmouth High School, alumnae from the Classes of 1962, 72, 82, 92 and 2002 returned for lunch and tours of the senior and prep schools last weekend. The day was hosted by Headmistress, Mrs Jane Prescott, with tours led by the current sixth form.

The alumnae rekindled old friendships and reminisced about the times they had spent at school. They made the journey to return as far afield as the United States and Canada.

Jane Hill, from the Class of 1982, now a lecturer in journalism at Plymouth Marjon University, a writer and comedian, found herself on the front of the stage reciting the opening lines of The Merchant of Venice which she had performed in 1981.

‘I just found myself on the stage,’ she said. ‘And the words came tumbling back.’

Sally Hubbard from the Class of 1972 remembers a note that went out to parents which said:

‘Skirts should be more than 4” above the knee,’ rather than ‘skirts should be no more than 4” above the knee.’

‘It caused such hilarity with us all,’ she said. ‘I’ve never forgotten it.’

‘There was no speaking to boys in school uniform,’ she continued. ‘So I used to stand outside the school gates and quickly change. Within two terms of leaving school, aged 19, I was married. And we are now coming up to our 50th wedding anniversary.’

One of the sixth formers, Ilmi, who took the alumnae on tours of the school, said:

‘It was such a wonderful day. It was so endearing to see the ladies in the old parts of the school that they recognised and telling their stories. Some of them recounted hiding in the PE cupboard to avoid the Headmistress. Others knew exactly where the Headmistress’ office was as had spent ‘too much time’ in there.

‘The school has made huge strides in the variety of subjects and facilities on offer since 1972 and deserves to continue to be a great success. I was most impressed,’ said Helen Jupe from the Class of 1972.

‘It was great to catch up with so many people – it brought back a lot of happy memories,’ said Anna Jardine from the Class of 1982. ‘The sixth form seemed slightly bemused when we were telling them about the first computer the school had, which arrived when I was in Year 10 and needed a whole room to accommodate it.’

Mrs Jane Prescott, Headmistress of Portsmouth High School, added:

‘Once again it is wonderful to have our alumnae return to school. As they told us, the ethos of the school remains the same today; to educate and inform but have lots of fun on that journey too. They bring with them a host of memories and stories and have rekindled friendships.’

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