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News > Alumni Stories > A Family Connection to BGS

A Family Connection to BGS

3 Old Girls, 3 Generations…
26 Sep 2023
United Kingdom | United Arab Emirates
Alumni Stories

We have recently had the pleasure of speaking to former BGS parent Christine Willetts who kindly contacted the Development Office with some fascinating archive donations relating to her family who have strong family ties to BGS: Christine’s Grandmother, Mother and Daughter all attended BGS. It has been wonderful to uncover parts of the School and local history, and to learn more about the lives of these Old Girls.

Old Girl Hilda Ward née Plumbley Class of 1932

22nd August 1915 ~ 5th January 2000

Hilda was born on 22nd August 1915 at number 463 Prettywood, on the border of Bury and Heywood, to Mary and Thomas. Thomas Henry Plumbley was a cotton spinner and insurance agent. Mary was a woollen weaver.

Hilda was 11 when she won the Kay Scholarship to attend Bury Grammar Girls’ School in July 1927, when Ms Neild was the Headmistress. The Education Department at Lancashire County council awarded her a Book Allowance, Travelling Expenses and a Maintenance Allowance which they said would run concurrently with her County Junior Scholarship, Hilda must have been in receipt of this for her junior years before applying to Bury Grammar Girls’ School.

Christine added; I remember her (Hilda) telling me, that at school they had to wear gloves, a custom she continued all her life, and she had elocution lessons, my grandmother spoke very clearly and precisely.

After Bury Grammar School she attended Progress College in Bury to learn shorthand and typing and became a private secretary to the Managing Director for Transparent Paper Mill at Heap Bridge, which was a large Mill and employed many people back then, it was also close to home. Hilda married George Ward when she was 18 years old and they had three children, including my mother Anita Ward who was the second child. Hilda ran a few farms with George, keeping the books and all things administrative.

Kay Scholarship Letter July 1927 and a Letter from the Education Department.


Artefacts from Hilda’s time at Bury Grammar School.

Anita Carroll née Ward, Class of 1954

My mother Anita attended BGS from 1946 to 1952 when Ms Perigoe was Headmistress.Anita won a bursary to attend the school after passing for both Bury High School and Bury Grammar School. She enjoyed Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Games, though hated swimming. She said Physics was a mystery to all in her class, they didn't get it, even though they had the same teacher, Mrs Hyde, who taught the other sciences. Mrs Hyde was one of the few married teachers. The whole class was put in detention once for talking in Geography and their punishment when Ms Perigoe found out was extra Latin, Ms Perigoe taught Latin.

Anita left School at 16 years and 7 months old, too much disdain of the teachers who thought she should stay on at school, but she wanted to be a nurse, to which they tried to persuade her to apply to a London hospital. She found her own Nurse cadet place at Bury General Hospital and worked there until she was 18, besides volunteering for St John's Ambulance and on Saturday working on the women's geriatric ward. As a nurse cadet she worked in Paediatrics, Physiotherapy and ENT.

At 18 years old she began her RGN Registered Nurse Training, she was paid £9 a month for three years, working hard and long hours. Her mother let her have £2 a month back for bus fares, stockings and going out to dances which she loved to do at the Bury Palais.

Anita worked as a District Nurse for Lancashire County Council, then trained in Midwifery and became a Midwife in 1968/9 and worked in the district for many years and became a Nursing Officer for Midwifery in 1975 in Bury, moving on to become Assistant Director of Midwifery Services in Oldham before her retirement. 

Anita was also a JP (Justice of the peace) for 25 years, serving on the bench at Bury Magistrates Courts old (which BGS owns and is currently The Courthouse), and new, meeting Princess Anne when she opened the new courts.

She married, had three children and eight grandchildren, and was very proud when Georgia Willetts became Deputy Head Girl, and they attended the Old Girls’ Association Annual Reunion Lunch together in 2017. Anita is 87 years old and lives in Bury.   

Prizegiving in 1952 where Anita received her O Levels.

The photo shows Anita receiving one of the many prizes from Mr W Morrison Consultant Surgeon at Bury General Hospital.

Anita’s Nursing Certificates.

Georgia Willets Class of 2018

Georgia Willets with her grandmother at the Old Girls’ Association Annual Reunion in 2017 and recently taken in Dubai where she lives and works.

We chatted to Georgia about her first graduate role as Junior UI/UX Designer at Back9Solutions:

I have now been living in Dubai for over a year after graduating from the University of Leeds in July 2022, with a degree in International Business and Spanish. I have found my passion working as a UI/UX Designer, designing mainly apps for events here in the Middle East, where I get to be creative every day, which is my goal! Although I was disappointed that I couldn't find work in Spain after graduating (it was my dream to head back to Madrid having enjoyed my year abroad so very much), I actually met two Spanish girls here in Dubai, also from Madrid, and we are now living together, so I feel lucky that I'm keeping up my Spanish speaking to them at home! I would encourage any BGS student to work abroad, and to push themselves out of their comfort zone - you can learn a lot about yourself and what you want out of life!

Many of our alumni have deep rooted family ties to BGS; if you would like to feature your family story, please contact us today by email 

We look forward to hearing from you.






Bury Grammar School
Tenterden Street, Bury
Lancashire, BL9 0HN



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