Read about ELIZABETH JENKINS’ visit to the School, (now called Moi Girls School, Eldoret) in September 2016.
I travelled to Kenya in September 2016 as part of a “going back” trip that included several objectives: a prime goal was to visit our old school. Upon arriving in Nairobi, we were met by our guide and, after a night’s rest, took the five-hour drive up the Rift to Eldoret. My husband and I were warmly welcomed by Headmistress Rosemary and Simon, a senior teacher. We spent four wonderful hours touring the school in the company of Simon and two senior girls, after which I met with Rosemary and Simon in the principal’s office (yes, it’s still where Miss Biddle held sway). We visited a senior math class in what was the 6th Form class room when I was there, and we talked about what we do, how the school had helped me be who I am, and how the proud I was to be an old girl of such a great school. They soaked up every word. (Note: There were 50 girls squeezed into that room; the same room where, I think, there were perhaps 20 of us at most back in the day!) The school is very crowded; there are seven classes in each of the four years and 50 girls in each of the classes. You can do the math!
Rosemary and Simon talked about successes they have had and challenges they face. There is government money for new facilities — there is one new tuition building, a glorious chapel, and a nicely landscaped main entrance — but little money for upkeep. Rosemary has to pick her battles! Government aim seems to be to expand the campus to hold as many students as possible (i.e. new buildings) but few resources to maintain those facilities. Science labs are in disrepair and the gym is now used as a storage facility.
We toured the school, walked the “gamesy,” visited my houses (there were several!) and entertained Rosemary and Simon at dinner that evening at The Boma Inn, a very nice hotel in Eldoret. where we talked more about the school. The next day, Rosemary drove out with us to Kaptagat to visit the Kaptagat Hotel where my parents would take me on half-term weekend visits when they drove up from Kampala. It was a most nostalgic few days.
I found much to be happy about and was thrilled to see so many girls receiving some of the best education available for them in Kenya. However, there are challenges that Rosemary and her staff face that I would love to be able to help with. My husband and I “adopted” an incoming student of need and committed to paying her family portion of the annual tuition throughout her four years at the school. She is now in the third term of her first year. I think this would be something the Old Girls’ Association could consider helping with. I also discovered that little is known about the colonial years at the school (New High School, the move to Eldoret, the original names of the houses, how things worked) and I was astonished to discover that there was a thirst to link the present with the past. I indicated I would be willing to put together my memories of how things were back then and, again, feel this is something the Old Girls’ Association could assist with. Please let me know you if you are interested in helping with this history.
I wore my prefect’s badge to the visit, and faculty and girls were thrilled to see that their current logo is the same “deer at the pool” symbol.
I want to emphasize, again, how welcoming Rosemary, staff, and girls are to visits from us “old girls.” I urge any of us who are planning a trip to Kenya to contact the school and engage. We can do much to help these girls. They are bright, engaged, ambitious, and most welcoming. They are the future of Kenya.
I’d welcome any feedback from any you in response to the above. My life in East Africa, and the Highlands School experience in particular, was a transforming experience for me, and I look upon those years with gratitude and an acknowledgment of privilege that I didn’t deserve but for which I am most grateful.
That’s all for now.
(Highlands 1955-1960, at NGSS and in Stanley, Churchill, and Portal Houses)
ALISON JONES (1960-61, Gordon House), writes about her life since the Highlands.
I attended Highlands Eldoret in 1960 – 1961 via St Andrews at Turi. I was in Gordon. I was put into a class to do two years schooling in one year, but I got measles and was in the San for what seemed like forever. I don’t believe I ever caught up from that!
I remember only a few of the girls from Highlands. Older girls (treated with great respect!) Bydie Kinloch and Lynne Colclough). I remember a very vivacious Jeanne Maltby, and remember Jean McAlister as I bought her school uniform off her (well – my mother did!) Also Cherry Carly (Renton) who left Highlands the same time as me to attend Charters Towers School in Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex. Cherry and I both now live in Perth, Western Australia, and have caught up a few times.
I didn’t like school in England. Actually I didn’t like England! Did not do well there. Married very young (17) and headed off to Australia in 1967 with my hubby and two babies. Loved Australia and never wanted to return to live in England. I still love Africa and visited Kenya and Uganda in 2011 with my daughter Bridget. We had a wonderful visit. My niece lives in Nairobi and we spent time with her and her family in Karen and also holidayed with them at Watamu, on the coast – and did the Serengeti and Masai Mara – of course!
I did return to “school” in 1975 – I got serious and completed a Degree in Business Studies, (correspondence for the most part) majoring in Accounting. However most of my professional life has been in the Business Analyst side of things – and I have started up and run two successful businesses. Just proving that if you don’t do it at school you can pick up later on!
I divorced my husband after 27 years of marriage- we grew apart. I had a wonderful relationship with my second husband. Very sadly Keith died (prostate cancer) in 2010.
I live in Perth, WA with my third “life partner”, David. My fabulous two daughters, Karen and Bridget also live in Perth, and I see both of them quite often. I have one grand-daughter, Megan. Megan is 18 now and just starting her Nursing career.
David and I have a little business (storing caravans and boats) which keeps us busy enough, but not full time. It’s called Toyyard (www.toyyard.com.au) – storing “big boys toys”! We live in a lovely spot only 200 metres from a calm beach, and boat ramps – and the same distance from one of the best golf courses in WA http://www.kennedybay.com.au/
We are just starting an Airbnb in our home and would welcome any Highlands people who would like to stay here. I will put details on the Highlands Website. Good rates for mates! (Bedroom, Ensuite and separate TV room)
David and I both belong to Born to Sing Choir in Perth, and organized a large contingent of us to take our Fringe Festival show to Edinburgh in August 2018. We hope some Highlands girls came to the show.
I am on Facebook, so please “friend” me if you are on Facebook. (Alison Knibbs). You will find photos and details of our Edinburgh Fringe Show.
MEMORIES AND TRADITIONS FROM THE 1950s.
Through the 1950s we regularly sang our school song “40 Years On …” at Highlands School, Eldoret. We certainly sang with gusto, big voices across the Rift Valley, but with very little understanding of the (long) words, concepts and ailments therein! All very formal and smart in our green denim dresses and grey felt hats……
“Forty Years on, when afar and asunder, parted are we who are singing today,
When we look back and forgetfully wonder what we were like in our work and our play.
Then, it may be, there will often come o’er us glimpses of notes like the catch of a song,
Visions of boyhood (?) will float them before us, echoes of dreamland will bear them along.
Chorus – follow up, follow up etc.
I wonder if you remember this song, or were one of the group of 13 girls who formed New Girls’ Secondary School, in the old hospital, Hospital Hill, Nairobi – later to become Highlands School in Eldoret? The BOMA (Nairobi High School) was declared “full” and we were the ‘overflow’ who would be educated in the old empty hospital until Eldoret was ready for us! What a happy, soft landing we thought – and long may it last. However, the next year we were summoned to Eldoret, to begin our ‘real’ education. Another adventure!
It is now more than 60 years on since our band of 13 girls sang together in Eldoret for the last time; pledges were made to ‘keep in touch’ as we dispersed across the world for new chapters in our lives. A small band of Highlands girls managed to reunite in London in the mid-1990s – and thanks to HEOGA efforts, have done so regularly ever since.
Forty Years On growing older and older, shorter in wind as in memory long,
Feeble of foot and rheumatic of shoulder,
What will it help us that once we were strong?
God give us bases to guard or beleaguer, games to play out whether earnest or fun,
Fights for the fearless, and goals for the eager, 20 and 30 and 40 Years on…. Follow up…
Miss Biddle had once asked me if I liked the song – indeed I did, but I explained that few of us understood what it was all about! The concepts of growing older and older were far from our youthful minds in Eldoret? She explained it was HARROW SCHOOL song, she had “borrowed it from them” being sure they would not mind! Finding myself living in Harrow UK in the 1990s, I wrote to the Headmaster, who sent an intriguing reply, viz:
From: The Headmaster, Harrow School, Harrow on the Hill HA13HW.
22nd February 1994.
Dear Mrs Whyte,
Thank you very much for your letter of February 20th.
I have great pleasure in enclosing a copy of the words and music of “Forty Years On” and hope it brings back happy memories for you. As someone whose first very temporary teaching post was at the European Primary Boarding School at Nakuru in 1960, I am even more delighted to think of “Forty Years On” being sung in Eldoret!
You have probably realised that it is, in fact, a football song – and Harrow Football, played only at the school and nowhere else in the world, to boot. Hence “bases” meaning goals. It is a game best played in the mud and not likely to be one that would appeal to the fairer sex!
With all good wishes,
signed N.R. BOMFORD
How times have changed – and how traditional was our Highlands School!
Sheila Whyte (Waddicar), Gordon House 1950s