In pictures: Jocey fondly remembers old school days in Dunchurch ahead of Homefield reunion

“I treasure many wonderful memories from my formative years spent at Homefield”

A former student at Homefield School in Dunchurch has shared her wonderful memories of her time spent there.

Jocey Applegate said her years at the school, now Bilton Grange, were filled with joy.

Speaking ahead of the reunion on March 23, Jocey said: “The school conveyed a sense of 'home' for me, a sentiment encapsulated in the school’s very name.

“My years at Homefield were filled with joy, and I treasure many wonderful memories from my formative years spent there.

“My mother, Margaret Applegate (Morgan), was a piano teacher, while my father spent a lot of time abroad in engineering, and as a result, I was enrolled and entwined with life at Homefield from an early age.”

She said Homefield fostered her love of horse riding, and during her time there, Jocey had great ambitions to become a professional show jumper.

“I have fond memories of being collected from school by our riding instructor, Betty Tozer, in her worn-out Rover,” Jocey went on.

"About eight of us would squeeze into the tiny car, doors secured by twine, and we could see through to the road beneath our feet as we drove along to our riding lessons! Betty was a wonderful teacher, and she laid the groundwork for my equestrian pursuits, leading me to clinch the Homefield Cup for riding every year.”

Music had a profound influence on Jocey during her time at Homefield.

She said: “This is most likely because of my mother’s teaching role and her friendship with my talented music teacher, Sheila Hammond. The choir was a pivotal part of my school life, and we started each day with hymns during assembly.

"Exceptional musical moments were also enjoyed at Christmas Carol Services at St Mark's Church, with the boys from Bilton Grange. Hearing those hymns immediately takes me back. A particular favourite was ‘Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light.’ I also have great memories of taking centre stage with a solo singing performance in ‘Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat’ at Rainsbrook Hall.”

The girls and boys didn’t share classes, except for science, where they utilized the labs at Bilton Grange. Shared sports facilities and lessons further forged a connection between the two schools.

She said: “A lasting memory is the joint performance of ‘Helen of Troy’ that took place in the Wild Gardens. Art Master Lester Thomas constructed a colossal horse, concealing many of the schoolboys inside, who emerged during the spectacle. Faye Lejeune gave a wonderful performance as Helen of Troy and was the only girl cast in the show.

"Many friendships formed during my years at Homefield have endured. Anna Meynell and I shared a fondness for horses and would spend many hours riding together both in and out of school. Helen Nicholson (McKinnon) and I were also very close friends, and our relationship remains strong, having worked together for many years at Bilton Grange.”

She said as with all schools, her teachers made the greatest impression on her during those years.

Jocey said: “A standout figure was Monica Summerson, who taught Geography and Latin. She became a firm friend after school, and I remained in contact with her until her passing. Her daughter, Dee, is still on the committee, and I’m in touch with her.

“Headteachers during my tenure were Miss Nancy Machin and her brother Rex Machin, succeeded by Patricia Clough. Patricia Clough was a brilliant and formidable teacher. She would stand for no nonsense. Her needlecraft lessons were particularly enjoyable. Tim Fisher then took over, and he compiled a book of prayers which I know resonated with many students.

"Tim’s father was the Archbishop of Canterbury, who crowned the Queen in her Coronation in 1952. My continued contact with Tim's wife, Claire, attests to enduring connections made through the school.

“These are just a few of the profoundly cherished memories that then propelled me into working with the 'Den' after-school club for many years at Bilton Grange and as matron in the boarding houses too. My current position on the committee is also a testament to the wonderful foundation that my time at Homefield gave me.”

She said the reunion is set to be a wonderful opportunity to reunite with many of the figures that shaped her time there.

Jacey said: “My years at Homefield were filled with joy, and I treasure many wonderful memories from my formative years spent there.

"I look forward to seeing many familiar faces at the reunion.”

The reunion takes place at Bilton Grange Pre-Prep School in Dunchurch on Saturday, March 23, from noon – 2.30pm. To find out more, visit