Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Shipwright Apprentices

1951 Entry Reunion Dinner 2009

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The News, Portsmouth: By Michael Powell 15 January 2009

A CLASS of shipwrights thought they would never see each other again when they parted more than 50 years ago. But thanks to The News the old friends tracked each other down and met this week for a memory-filled reunion. The Portsmouth Royal Dockyard School entry class of January 1951 found each other through The News Where are they now? section.

On Tuesday they met for a reunion dinner at the Ward Room of HMS Nelson - almost 58 years to the day they first met.

Keith Hart, 75, who lives in Plymouth, said: 'We only started three months ago but managed to contact 18 of us and hold a reunion. There was only one person we couldn't find. 'Some of them are living abroad so couldn't come today, but it has been great - some of us have not seen each other for 51 years.'

Mr Hart organised the reunion along with Bob Dowdell, 75, of Court Mead, Drayton; Peter Ellerton, 73, of Burridge, near Swanwick; and Harry 'Dusty' Miller, 74, of Suffolk. He said: 'It all started with me and Dusty being on the website Friends Reunited. 'He got in touch and asked if I was the same Keith Hart he knew from the dockyard. I said yes, then it grew from there. 'We found more of us on the internet but there were some names we could not find, so Bob got in touch with The News and found some more.'

The group spent the dinner sharing memories.

Mr Ellerton said: 'One thing I remember is all the bicycles along Unicorn Road. The road used to be full of cyclists heading to the dockyard. 'Also, I remember these lads from Bermuda who came and joined us when the Bermudan dockyard closed.'

Mr Dowdell added: 'It has been great for us to get back together and talk about those days.'

The group plans to stay in touch and meet up again in the future.