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The Old Collegiate Girls’ Guild

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By Barrie Hesse (Roberts, 1965) 

When I read about the plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the OCGG, I thought about my mother, Lynn Roberts (McWilliams, 1941) who spent seven years at Collegiate (two of those in the Junior School). While there she formed a group of friends and those friendships have lasted entire lifetimes with two of that original group still alive and kicking more than 70 years later. The Gang comprised Lynn, Margie Ainslie (Mapham), Joyce Keal (Clark), Pamela Burgess (Scott-Adkins), Frances Chubb (Pringle) and Ann Marais (Hirst). Sadly only Lynn and Margie are left of the gang of six but they are still in touch.

Along with a long list of relations, I too went to Collegiate, and Mom and I were both in St Georges house and both slept on those famous concrete balconies with the flapping canvas blinds to keep us—most of the time - from  the elements. Lynn and Margie were prefects and so were promoted to a section with just two beds, just as I was able to move to a two bed room with Binci Clark (Stewart) 1965 when we became prefects.

Mom and I both played in the 1st hockey team (25 years apart) although her team went on to win the 1st League Cup as well. She was selected for the Eastern Province team in Std. 9, but the war intervened and the provincial competition was cancelled. I note that her friends, Anne Hirst and Frankie Pringle were also in that team.

One of my mother’s favourite Collegiate experiences was hearing the smallest girls singing “Be like a Butterfly” in the Feather Market Hall. Since then she has liked all things butterfly.

To me, these friendships are what Collegiate is all about. We make life long friendships that see us through good times and bad. How lucky is that!

Vintage photographs of The Gang poignantly illustrate these enduring friendships against the backdrop of changing seasons and fashions… in Barrie’s captions:


2. The Gang—at Joyce’s Aunt’s cottage at Schoenmakerskop. Unbelievably for that day and age their parents allowed them to have a holiday ON THEIR OWN at Skoenies.


1. This photograph makes me smile because it could be a group of any Collegiate girls, whatever year it was. The sense of wonderful camaraderie springs out at you!




I wonder if those trusting parents knew about the ‘Talent Camp’ - a group of handsome young men who were camping at Gibbons Pool? The person standing in the front row is Lynn’s younger sister, Dorothy McWilliams (1943). She was allowed to join the gang on this occasion! When I enquired about any hanky panky that might have gone on I was decisively told “Only good clean fun.”

3. The group of boys camping at Gibbons Pool. Back row: Peter MacIntosh, Harland Bell, Robert McWilliams. Front row: Colin Stewart, holding the flower of Peace. Although Lynn can no longer remember why but the boys had annoyed the girls and so the flower was a peace offering. Good to know Collegiate girls don’t put up with any nonsense. You want to play with us, you behave properly!! (Right)


4. The Collegiate’s 1940 production of Lady Precious Stream, written by Hsiung with Lynn and Peggie practising their roles. The story concerned the Prime Minister Wang Yun his wife Madam Wang and his three daughters. The production allowed for colourful Oriental costumes and a large cast. A perfect play for a school production, I would think.


5. At one of their reunions. This one at Lynn and Llewellyn Roberts’ home on Baddaford, Fort Beaufort. It wasn’t an exclusively Collegiate gathering as sometimes the husbands were welcome to join them, especially as some had come a long way! You can bet there were a few renditions of “Girls of the College” on this evening. They all knew the words off by heart and were quite used to the tradition of singing the school song.



6. Another gathering, this time on holiday at Margie’s home on the farm, Glen Gregor, Bedford. When Margie married she simply moved to Glen Gregor from the family farm, Spring Grove. (Above Right) Back row: Frankie Pringle, Lynn Roberts, Joyce Keal, Margie Ainslie. Front row: Pam Burgess, Ann Hirst. I love to compare this photograph with the one at Schoenmakerskop and see the passing of years.


collegiate port elizabeth - evergreen friendships

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