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Former student Bill Hammond of Iluka is the oldest living pupil from Chatsworth Island Public School and was given the honour of cutting the cake. Mr Hammond, who celebrated his 103rd birthday the following day, was surrounded by the youngest pupils, the kindergarten class. Image: Lynne Mowbray.

Chatsworth School celebrates Sesquicentenary

Lynne Mowbray |

Saturday morning’s looming storms eventually cleared to make way for the Chatsworth Island Public School’s Sesquicentenary celebrations.

Hundreds turned out early to catch up with old friends and to watch the current students present their items which included a performance of ‘Take me Home’ as well as dance performances.

The class rooms were adorned with every type of memorabilia from past and present including hundreds of photographs which lined the walls

Chatsworth Island Public School principal Greg Speirs said the setting up of the day’s event was held off briefly, after a huge storm which hit around 9am.

“The community and my (student’s) parents all came together though and got it sorted; then we were ready to go,” Mr Speirs said.
“The sun came out and everyone’s sharing stories and reminiscing, it’s wonderful.
“It’s so important to see people come back (for this special event) and catch up with their teachers and old friends and we talked (earlier on in the speeches) about the citizens and manners and respect. The underlying thing at Chatsworth has always been about the citizens and community feel in the school and you can really see it come out today.
“It’s been a great day and I couldn’t have been happier with the way that it’s gone.
“I really need to thank everyone who has helped out to make this day such a success,” he said.
One of the former principals at Chatsworth School was Peter Bridge, who said that he came into the school as principal in 1990.
“I had big steps to fill following on from the previous principal Cyril Gooley,” Mr Bridge said.
“I was at the school for 16 years and I thoroughly enjoyed my time here.
“Although, I did upset a few people however by saying that children had to wear shoes to school.
“During my time here I established the development of the nature area out the back of the school.
“I lived in the school residence for the first two years before building my own place over towards Ashby. The building then became part of the school, as there was no staff room and the office area was very small,” he said.
Mr Bridge said that Saturday’s event brought back wonderful memories for him.
“I was standing at the back of the (school) residence earlier on and reminiscing,” Mr Bridge said.
“It’s been wonderful to see the parents, who I can remember from year’s gone by as well as ex-students.
“To see them and hear about what they’re doing in their careers and to see them with their own families; it makes you think how the time’s gone by.
One of the special guests at the event was 102-year-old Bill Hammond of Iluka who is the oldest living ex-pupil.
Bill said that he attended the school for a year in 1923 and had to walk to school from Woombah.
“I had to walk two and a half miles to school each day,” said Mr Hammond.
Mr Hammond said that he couldn’t get over how many turned up to celebrate Saturday’s event.
“It’s amazing,” Mr Hammond said.
“I never thought that there would be so many people here.
“You wouldn’t get a crowd like this in Sydney,” he said.
Mr Hammond said that he was honoured to be asked to cut the celebratory cake, surrounded by all the young pupils.
The cake cutting on Saturday however was only a practice run for Mr Hammonds 103rd birthday, which took place the following day.


Students take a bow after dancing the ‘Pride of Erin’ for family and friends.
Former student and former Maclean Shire Council mayor John Harvey, rings the school bell.
Kindy students, twins Deja and Sanne Little, 6, show off their favourite place in the school grounds – the nature area.
School principal Greg Speirs with Year 6 students, Jay Anderson, Sumira Mahoney, Molly Bennett and Carmen Simpson, burying the schools time capsule.
Hundreds gathered at the Chatsworth Island School on Saturday to celebrate the schools Sesquicentenary.
Former students and visitors to the school perused the historical collage of photos on display.
Images: Lynne Mowbray