Charley Memorial Primary School
Parish Church of St Patrick, Drumbeg, was packed to capacity for
a Service of Thanksgiving on Sunday 13th May to mark the closure
of Charley Memorial Primary School this summer. Using an acronym
of the word W.E.L.C.O.M.E., Miss Gwen Forsythe (Principal) and
the children of Charley Memorial gave their own special welcome
to friends, former staff, governors, past pupils and members of
the community (including some who had flown from as far away as
Canada, England and Wales). Other special guests included Col
Robin Charley who was accompanied by his wife Janet and their
daughters Catherine Charley and Elizabeth Champion and
grandchildren Rebecca and Dominic, Ms Irene Knox (Chief
Executive of the SEELB), Jeffrey Donaldson (Lagan Valley MP),
Councillor Trevor Lunn MLA (Mayor), Mrs Laureen Lunn (Mayoress)
and Councillors Allen Ewart, Basil McCrea and Jonathan Craig
were also in attendance.
Scripture readings were by Gemma Robinson (Principal Release
Teacher), Jimmy Sloan (Former Principal), Irene Knox (Chief
Executive of the SEELB), Hugh Crookshanks (Church Sexton),
Gillian Alister (Classroom Assistant) and the Mayor.
A selection of verse from a Poetry Anthology by Helena Steiner
Rice were read by Bertie Twaddell (Board of Governors
representative for 35 years), Catherine Charley (great
granddaughter of William Charley) Shirley MacWilliam
(Chairperson of the PTA), Mrs Molly Nesbitt (Drumbeg Residents'
Association), 83 year old Mrs Lily Skelton (nee Alexander)
former pupil and Suzanne Brown (St Patrick's Choir). Other items
included three poems by Colin Sloan (local poet) and
thanksgiving prayers by Alex Connor.
Mrs Mabel Quinn on piano, Alan Lewis on keyboard and Matthew
Nesbitt on guitar led the worship which was a resounding success
and truly glorified God. The hymns included 'Come On and
Celebrate', 'Lord for the years' and 'To God be the Glory'.
Olivia Crooks (past pupil now studying law at Queen's
University) sang the solo 'How Great Thou Art' which reduced
many of the congregation to tears. Marilyn Campbell presented a
recorder medley performed by 34 pupils, both past and present.
In his final thoughts, Drumbeg Rector, the Rev Raymond Devenney,
described the service as 'a sad occasion' but added: 'In a way
it is a celebration of over 100 years and more of a wonderful
era of education in the Drumbeg area'. He also pronounced the
benediction which was followed by a large group photograph and
refreshments served at the school along with a celebratory cake.
The money received from the offering will be divided equally
between the two charities supported by the school, Northern
Ireland Cancer Fund for Children and Water Aid.
Wet weather didn't dampen the spirit of celebration, which
although tinged with sadness, saw past pupils and teachers, as
well as present pupils and parents pack the school to capacity
last Friday night (15th June) for a most enjoyable BBQ. During
the evening a presentation was made to Mrs Marilyn Campbell who
is retiring after almost 17 years of dedicated service to the
school. She received a gift of wooden patio furniture and a
wooden garden seat and a large floral bouquet in recognition of
her boundless energy and professionalism.
An emotional final assembly will be held in the school this
afternoon (Friday 22nd June) at 1.00pm. All three events,
(Service of Thanksgiving, BBQ and Final Assembly) will go down
as important milestones in the history of the school, which will
officially close at the end of August. Eighteen pupils commenced
the school last September and the remaining seven pupils will
leave at the end of June.
Brief history of Charley Memorial School
In a book published in 1996 entitled
'Recollections of the Parish of Drumbeg' writer Matthew
Neill (now 89 years of age) records that the name Charley is
almost synonymous with linen. From the earliest days of the
linen industry, their factories and bleach greens were
dotted along the Lagan and its tributaries: J & W Charley &
Co. of Dunmurry, Seymour Hill, Mossvale and others. Indeed
William Charley of Seymour Hill published a book 'On Flax'
in 1862, which is still a classic. But it is as benefactors
to Drumbeg Parish for over a century that Mr Neil recalls
their philanthropy, which manifested itself in works of
practical value that remain part of our heritage today. They
were keenly interested in forwarding the cause of education
and were motivated to provide a school where a good
elementary education could be had by the children of the
Opened in1892, Charley Memorial School was endowed by
sisters Mrs Anne Jane Stevenson and Miss Emily Charley, in
memory of their brother and sister-in-law Mr & Mrs William
Charley of Seymour Hill. It was known as Drumbeg National
School until 1909.
The first Principal, Mr Robert Gurd (1892-1931), was
followed in turn by: Mr L L Connor (1931-1948), Major
Charles Robert Gray (1948-1964), Mr Thomas Magee McCutcheon
(1965-1967), Mr James Wright Patton Scott (1968-1984) and Mr
James Sloan (1984-2002). The present Principal, Miss Gwen
Forsythe, was appointed in February 2002.
The inscription on the stone panel at
Charley Memorial School reads:
CHARLEY MEMORIAL SCHOOL
ERECTED IN MEMORY OF
WILLIAM CHARLEY, D.L.
OF SEYMOUR HILL. BY HIS SISTERS
A. J. STEVENSON & EMILY CHARLEY
Stone panel at Charley Memorial School
Year 1905 approx.
Year 1920 approx: L to R: (back row) Miss
Kate Gilmore (Teacher), Alex Kerr, John Wilson, William
Wylie, Eric Foster, Sarah Cochrane, Susan Dickinson,
Hugh/Jim Ruddock, Georgina McConnell, Susan McClinton,
Thomas Kerr, Lottie McConnell, Charlotte Sayers,
Anna Kyle (Teacher), Percy McClinton and Master B Curd.
(middle row) Angus Wilson, Margaret Whiteside, Terry Cox,
Norah Cox, William Ruddock, Mary Kerr, William Forbes and
Clara Whiteside. (front row) Ena Whiteside, Eddie Sayers,
Chrissie Forbes, May Whiteside, Agnes Cochrane, Rita Wilson,
Eileen McClinton, Emma Dickinson and Charles Foster.
Year 1923 ? 1925: L to R: (back row) Master R
Curd, William Drennan, William Livingstone,
James Hamilton, William Turkington, Edward
McMaster, William Henderson, Thomas Kerr, Robert
Cowan, Angus Wilson and William Hamilton.
(middle row) Esther Hunt, Daisy Crothers, Nell
Dugan, Eileen McClinton, Molly Turkington, Jenny
Allen, Mary Kerr, Florence Oliver, Marie Craig
and Rita Wilson. (front row) John Hamilton,
William J Adams, George Maxwell, Evelyn Dugan,
Mantle Dugan, Louise Henderson, James Allen,
Harriet Allen, John McClinton, Charles Foster,
Whiteside and Sadie Cowan.
Year 1950 approx: L to R: (back
row) Jackie Clarke, Margaret/Muriel McIlroy,
Roy/Raymond Purvis, Gordon Coates/Gordon, Agnes
Gill, Maureen/Maud Rolston, Cyril Henderson, Shirley
Dugan, Betty Gibson and Jean Miller. (middle row):
Billy Shanks, missing name, Hilary Bennett',
Nice/Pauline Filers, Doreen Crowe, George Bratty,
Marian McCully, S. David Waring and Kenneth
Ferguson. (front row) Eric Miller, Ronnie Todd,
Ernest Gill, Joan Gill, Maureen Punis, Isa Moore,
missing name and Dorothy Alexander.
Year 1960 approx: L to R: (back row) 1. ? 2. ? 3. ?
4. ? Millar/Coates. 5. ? 6. ? 7. Rosemary Allen/Spindlow.
8. ? 9. ? l0. Elizabeth Drennan. Middle Row: 1. ? 2.
Elma Adams. 3. Eleanor Abbott. 4. Barbara Coleman,
5. ?Henderson 6 Dorothy Alexander, 7 Roberta Gill.
8. ? 9. Margaret Drennan (Crowe) 10. ? 11. ? (Front
Row): 1 Bertie Coleman. 2 Tommie Combs 3. Robert
Hall. 4. Eric Millar
Year 1962 - 1963
Rev Raymond Devenney (Rector of Drumbeg Parish),
Pauline McKee, Anne Pollock (supervisory
assistants), Lilian McGlade (caretaker) and Joy
Lewis (former secretary) and some of the parents and
past pupils that attended the BBQ in Charley
Memorial Primary School last Friday night.
At the BBQ in Charley Memorial Primary School
last Friday night are L to R: Ann Robinson (former
teacher), Yvonne Woods (Former teacher), June
Latimer (lollipop lady) and Stuart Dickinson (former
At the BBQ in Charley Memorial Primary School
last Friday night are L to R: (standing) Rev Raymond
Devenney (Rector of Drumbeg Parish), Col Robin
Charley, Janet Charley, Gwen Forsythe (Principal
2001-present), Jimmy Sloan (Principal 1984-2001).
(under the sign) Past acting principals - Marilyn
Campbell, Ann Robinson and James Kelly.
Col Robin Charley points out the name of his
grandfather, the late William Charley of Seymour
Hill, in whose memory the Charley Memorial School
was founded in 1892. Looking on are his wife Janet
and Gwen Forsythe (Principal). The picture was taken
at a BBQ in the school last Friday night.
Past pupils - twins Emma and Ami Thompson point
themselves out in a 2004-2005 school photo to mum
Sandra (left) and sister Alix (right).
L to R: Paul Graham, Tim Crooks, Linda Graham,
Dick Lewis and Norman Wilson pictured in a haze of
smoke as they cook the sausages and burgers at the
BBQ in Charley Memorial Primary School last Friday
Mrs Marilyn Campbell is pictured cutting a cake
last Friday night marking her retirement after
almost 17 years of dedicated service to Charley
Memorial Primary School. L to R: Col Robin Charley,
Sandra Thompson, Shirley MacWilliam, Anne Crooks,
Gwen Forsythe (Principal), Lynda Graham and Mabel
Quinn (all past and present members of the PTA).
Close up of the cake presented to Mrs Marilyn
Campbell last Friday night marking her retirement
after almost 17 years of dedicated service to
Charley Memorial Primary School depicting that it is
time for her to 'LOG OFF'.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION - PRESS RELEASE
Education Minister, Maria Eagle, has announced that Charley
Memorial Primary School, Drumbo Primary School, Hillhall Primary
School and Lambeg Primary School will close at the end of August
The Minister highlighted that the decision was made in the best
educational interests of the pupils and said: 'The decision to
close a school is never an easy one and I carefully considered
all arguments before reaching a decision. In every case,
however, my top priority is the needs of the pupils involved.
'These four schools have served the East Lisburn community
for many years and will leave a good legacy. I believe,
however, that the long-term educational interests of the
children concerned will be best served in a larger school,
where they will be able to avail of increased educational
opportunities. There are sufficient places at nearby primary
schools that can provide the children with these