THE HADITE ‘STONE’ HAS BEEN FOUND!
Hi everyone, it was great to see you all in Las Vegas. I had so much fun being with all my old friends again and especially meeting up with Patsy Davis Grubbs, Mark Rogers, Teddie Woods, Sharon Montoya, Paul Kunberger and many more for the first time since school.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Leoma Needham 72. I was at Heyford from 8th grade until I graduated in January 1972. I never left England, apart from going on holidays all over the world. I have one son who just turned 16 going on 36. I never went to fulltime college, but worked at various jobs throughout my life and attended college at night. After having many, many jobs over the years, I have ended up working for the British police force in their Intelligence Bureau. We call it the FIB. I am to date a Criminal Researcher; I love it and hope to end my working days within the Force somewhere.
In the last Alumni Newsletter I read the front story about the ”stone”, which was created by Rick Hunter ‘68 and Mike Brown ‘69. I didn’t remember the stone, but was told where to find it by Gary Crandell ‘69. By the way, the full story of the origin of the stone can be found at http://www.uhhsstuff.net/origin.html.
I made up my mind that I would personally find that ‘stone’ and wrote to the Chief Executive of the North Oxfordshire Consortium, Keith Watson. I sent him a copy of our Alumni letter. He handed my letter over to a really lovely man, Don Todd, who has worked at the base for 28 years.
Don phoned and arranged for me to come to meet him at the base. When I got there, he insisted I see the video of Upper Heyford since it became a base. I must admit I had tears in my eyes when I watched it all by myself in the mini theatre. Not because I was alone but it brought back so many memories. Don then gave me a tour around the Museum. Well if ever any of you come back for a visit, the video and the tour are a must.
As I was looking around, there on the wall was a picture of my sister, Medora Needham Evangelista ’70, having her make-up applied by Miss Wolfe, the Home Economics teacher. There were other girls in the photo as well, one being Ellen Longtin ‘71.
Don also has every copy of the base newspaper, the Vanguard, from the day they first issued it up until the day it finished. There in the year 1972, in the month of June, I found myself on the front page, having come in 2nd in the Miss Upper Heyford Contest. I won a $25 savings bond, which I have never cashed in!
After the museum tour, Don took me up to the school in his own car, where we parked outside the two locked gates.Looking at the old tumbled down buildings, the foliage is way overgrown, covering buildings, footpaths etc. I looked over at the gym, very camouflaged by greenery and all boarded up. I pointed to the pavement where the stone was supposed to be, and Don and I began searching. I was disappointed at first glance to not see anything resembling a mosaic. I found a huge clump of ivy completely covering one part of the footpath and started to lift it to look underneath, when Don shouted to me that he had found something, I rushed over to find him scuffing aside moss and dirt with his foot……………..and there it was. The Hadite mosaic is there, still intact. Even though I must have walked over it every day between the locker room and classes for five years, I had never noticed it.
I had a discussion with Don with regard to preserving the mosaic by perhaps putting it in the museum. That wouldn’t be possible but he did say that hopefully they could stone cut it out of the concrete that it is set in and reset it outside the main museum building near the guard house.
I was over the moon to have had the privilege of being able to get the mosaic preserved on behalf of all of the Upper Heyford/Croughton High School Hadites.
Afterwards, Don and I went on a mini tour of the other areas of the campus, the gym especially. All the doors and lower windows are boarded up and the number 7 and 5 are still spray painted on the wall above the main door, wonder who could make the claim on that one! The gym is full of white sand and is where the Olympic Volley Ball Team practiced. The base was going to be the main centre of Sporting Excellence in the UK but lost the bid and it was given to another area.
The school is going to be flattened to the ground, probably in about 2 years, and the famous water tower is going to be the first thing to go soon.
I strongly recommend that if you come to the UK and want to visit the base, Don is the main man to contact for a tour etc. He knows so much history. His details are available on the Upper Heyford website, http://www.RAF-Upper-Heyford.org/Museum.html.
I did ask Don about having a reunion at the base and there is potential. He didn’t say ”no” anyway. I even suggested opening up a barracks for accommodation. It is really something that the reunion committee would have to do, by sending him more details/proposals etc.
I took photos and will be seeing him again to give him copies, as he features in some of them. I will also be sending copies to Gary Crandell, so he can post them on his website.
Take care all