We are delighted that our special guests at this year's Sports Day on Monday 3 July will be our TGS alumnae Mira and Sally who have been friends since they both started school in 1943.
Here is Mira's story
"IN HONOUR OF MY MOTHER MRS IRENE JEAN RONALD/ SUNDERLAND
I must begin my writing about my Mother IRENE JEAN with my own start in life with her. It won’t take long.
My Mother adopted me in 1935 from the National Adoption Society when I was just 4 months old. She wanted a child very much. My father to be--- was not really interested but wrote a letter to the National Adoption Society saying that he was willing for my mother to adopt a child providing it came from a good social class to match his own. My mother always had to take full financial and caring responsibilities for me.
We lived in Hildenborough Road and at the bottom of Brook Street in Tonbridge, and I walked to TGGS and home from 1943 to 1952, meeting the girls off the train from Sevenoaks at the bottom of Pembury Road in the mornings.
I was in the PREP department from the age of 8 and when I was 11 the 11+ exam started, and you had to pass that to study in the MAIN school. The MAIN school a was open to all children who could pass the 11+ exam. The PREP department closed.
Sadly, my mother died when I was still only 17 and I could never show her my love and gratitude for what she did for me because I was a teenager wrapped up in myself---as you generally are! Now TGGS have given me that chance by sharing some of my mother’s life with you and supporting you with your SPORTS DAY Celebrations You see my mother loved TGGS and was what was named THE GAMES TEACHER here in the 1920’S, for any years. She was a close friend of MISS ARNOLD who was your HEAD MISTRESS during the following years. My mother made many visits and gave sports support whenever possible.
Several years before my mother and father adopted me my mother opened her own infant school called BROOKLANDS. It was in the first house in Brook Street on the corner of the main road into town. I still have the school bell on my home fireplace. I was first allowed to ring it when I was two years old.
My Mother was a lady who that lived a life that was ahead of her time. She rode her own motorbike and drove a car. Maybe her childhood experiences in INDIA had made her strong and so kind.
My adopted Grandfather MR RONALD who was my mother’s father was a Director of BIRMINGHAM SMALL ARMS (BSA). When she was a child, she lived in a town called DUM DUM which was near CALCUTTER. That was because BSA was making a bullet named DUM DUM. The bullet exploded inside the person who was shot. It was a terrible bullet.
My Mother changed my PAMELA name and gave me the name MIRA for my life. That was because MIRA was a legend in INDIA.
In brief, she was a PRINCESS who removed her fine clothes and went into rags to pray for social change. Widows were put alive in their husbands’ graves and even alive on fires that were burning their dead husbands. Mira gained respect and she was listened to. She was placed in KRISHNERS TOMB and made a SAINT. She is worshipped and most areas in India changed those behaviours. A few, in the countryside remain the same though.
When my mother died of cancer in Pembury hospital, I was not allowed by my father to see her. That was because, at that time, it was thought that cancer was a disgrace and a shame. It had to be hidden and not discussed. It’s difficult to believe that now, but now we have so much medical research and open talk. All I can remember the telephone ringing in my home and my father telling me that my other was dead.
He stopped paying for my Webber Douglas Drama School fees in London and wanted me to stay in Tonbridge and attend a Secretarial Training. I was so very upset that I behaved in a rapid way and returned to my Hostel in London. I shared a room with six girls and cried at night. I soon got myself a job in Harrods. No more about me---this is about IRENE JEAN—my mother who adopted and loved me.
The emotional space that lies with me about losing her has never healed as it should. It would be WONDERFUL if I could help TGGS for her and in her name. I am supporting Sports Day with £500 for the next three years, and I would like to continue.
A healing indeed and it would make me content and rest in peace.
Thank you, Pippa.
Best from Mira