ONCE upon a time, nuns stalked the corridors of St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School and cast intimidating glares at the little boys and girls to keep them in line.

While Olga Moser, the school’s former secretary of nine years, laughs at her son Jonathan’s recollection of the strict Irish nuns - elderly Sister Koska and Sister Rosario - she saw past their harsh exterior.

“Sister Koska was very kind. She’d seen a lot of suffering in Ireland so she had an innate kindness,” she empathised.

“The younger one, Sister Rosario, she was good fun. I can remember her whizzing round the back of the playground on [the school’s first male teacher] Mr Denham’s motorbike.”

Jonathan, now 55, was the first pupil to cross the threshold of the primary school when it opened in 1967.

His mum made sure of it, he said, but he had no idea of her influence there, even having a say on the school’s uniform.

He stayed for four complete years until he was nine, when he left for the same boarding school as his dad - in Leicestershire - where one of the entry requirements was Latin. Something he could not learn in Lexden.

Fifty years later the pair returned to commemorate the beginning of a new school term and a landmark anniversary.

Olga, whose family remain members of St Teresa of Lisieux church next door, said: “I’m so impressed with everything. More than impressed - I’m amazed.

“I look back on my period here as a golden age because we were so happy.

“Shortly after the school opened, we had a new church open. I’m sure they mesh together very well now, but we were both building ourselves up.

“Compared with today, the school was very Spartan almost. And when I see the children in their school uniform, I think of how informal the choice was. But here it is, still here today.

“It was very democratic. We all sat round and had a look at the colours we might choose and it was formulated over a cup of coffee and a chat.”


Jonathan manages to squeeze into one of the primary school's little chairs

The school still exudes its familiar warmth and charm that a five-year-old Jonathan remembers, but it has grown by about half, he guesses.

Plus, the infamous wooden naughty bench, has gone.

Although memories of a 45-minute stint on it provokes the same fear, it has been replaced by the medical office - a place of TLC for all the bumps and scrapes.

He said: “I was in such trepidation.

“One of the big things about what’s changed is there’s so much for the children to do. They have a whole room full of computers, and apparently iPads too.

“We had this thing called a reading laboratory. It was a big box full of cards and when you read a story all these exercises followed.

“I suppose that was our equivalent of the PC, but I remember being told it was very expensive, and we were to look after it.

“Looking round the school today, we were also very impressed with the facilities to help children going through a tough time.

“All three of my children - William, Camilla and Rosalind - came here in the Nineties. It’s a Catholic school so it was the natural choice because we were going to church and I came here, so it was nice to have that connection.

“As parents we were quite involved in the school in terms of fundraising.”

A special mass of thanks followed the anniversary with a tour of the school offered to St Teresa’s alumni.

Present headteacher Marie Kelly explained the celebrations will continue for months, with past pupils, staff and governors invited back to reminisce.


A throwback photo taken in 1967

Dad Jonathan left Colchester for Ipswich, where he lives with his wife Sarah, a former Home Farm Primary School pupil.

As an independent consultant dealing in rail freight, he has worked abroad several times, including in Geneva.

Grandmother Olga, 81, still lives in Colchester, albeit not at the old family home in Lexden.

She said: “Some of the things that stand out for me is a day we had Christmas lunch.

“Two boys took it upon themselves to run away on a great adventure with a bar of chocolate and bottle of pop.

“They were found quickly, but the headmaster wasn’t best pleased they’d chosen Christmas lunch day. They were off on an adventure to explore, that’s what they said.

“Then there was another notable nativity when Joseph went missing on stage and was found in the loo.

“In a different way, it was very a vibrant time. Everybody was full of enthusiasm and there was a lovely family atmosphere.”

This is one thing the mother and son confidently agree on.

Jonathan added: “The start of my junior year with Mr Denham was really enjoyable.

“For the first Christmas we built this huge model church out of matchsticks.

“My father smoked and I remember asking mum if she could buy 15 boxes of matches because the class were having a competition on who can bring the most.

“We took it in turns to build this church. It had a tower and a big spire and Mr Denham put a light in it so it looked quite magnificent.

“He also started reading us stories which were more interesting. Rather than teddy bears it was more Enid Blyton. I started to think stories were good fun.”