Many happy memories for Kingswood scholars
Published on: 01 Apr 2015
Former pupils of Kingswood Grammar School are proving that school days really are the best days of your life. The school’s Old Scholars’ Association has more than 1,000 members across the globe and many of them meet regularly to share memories and discuss their carefree childhoods. Downend Voice delves into the association’s history and finds out how it continues to go from strength to strength
CAN you remember Kingswood Grammar School? The single storey wooden building in Brook Road, Warmley started life in 1921 as Kingswood Secondary School. It became a mixed grammar school six years later before morphing into Kingsfield School, a comprehensive, in 1967.
During an arson attack in August 1976, the main building was completely destroyed. Out of its ashes rose Kingsfield School, rebuilt as a modern two-storey building in 1977. Thirty four years later - in 2011 - it was to change again to King’s Oak Academy, its name testament to the giant oak tree in the grounds of the original secondary school.
And things are still changing and moving forward today. A new primary school is currently being built on a site opposite the academy which, when finished in September 2015, will enable education from the ages of four to 18 to be available on the Brook Road site.
Since 1921, thousands upon thousands of pupils - including scientist Colin Pillinger - have poured through the school’s gates, some perhaps a little more enthusiastically than others.
Keeping past students up to date with news is the job of former pupil Mike Bendrey, of Downend. As editor of KOSA News (Kingswood Old Scholars’ Association News), Mike produces a 28-page newsletter twice a year, in the spring and autumn.
KOSA News was first published in 1992 when an appeal and a cash collection at a school reunion enabled an eight-page edition to be produced. This inaugural edition went to around 200 former pupils but as membership is now up to 1,100, the production and distribution is a much more time consuming - and costly - affair.
The A5 newsletter is made up of news, photographs, anecdotes and memories of life at school. Copies are distributed throughout the UK but many are also sent to members in France, Spain, Australia Canada, New Zealand, the USA and South Africa.
Mike said: “One of the major aims of KOSA is to reunite old friends from school days and many stories of happy reunions as a result of KOSA’s activities have been submitted for publication.”
Two reunion lunches are arranged annually at Lincombe Barn in Downend to which all are invited. The newsletters are published to coincide with these soirées.
“One long-standing KOSA member lives in Denver, Colorado and has attended every lunchtime reunion for over 20 years,” said Mike.
“Indeed, members regularly attend from all over the UK and beyond.”
Uniquely, KOSA does not charge a membership subscription even though each edition costs more than £1,000 to print and distribute world-wide. Instead, members are invited to make an annual donation of £10 towards production costs.
“No one is struck off the distribution list for non-payment!” Mike said.
KOSA welcomes new members so if you attended any of the schools and would like to join and receive the newsletter, email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0117 956 5689.
KOSA also has an organising committee so if you are interested in helping run the association, pop along to the next lunch and AGM at Lincombe Barn on Saturday April 11.