Claremont School & Claremont Fan Court School

Norwood, Class of 1966 Former Staff, 1986 - 2023

Cathy Bradley (Edyvean)

Cathy and her sisters Mary (Norwood, Class of 1970) and Lucy (Norwood, Class of 1973) each attended Claremont School. Cathy shares a memorable Biology lesson where Miss Ison's swarm of bees became a little unruly for herself and friends, Diana and Tish to handle:

“A warm summer’s day in 1966 is still vivid in my memory.   Our biology teacher, Miss Ison, was a keen beekeeper and on this morning one of her hives had swarmed and settled in a small tree near the present site of the Sports Hall.  There were three students in the A level Biology class – the other two were Diana S-N and Tish S – and we were tasked with retrieving this swarm.

It did not occur to us to question our brief, so armed with a ladder and a cardboard box, we faithfully followed instructions.  The plan was to capture the swarm in the cardboard box.  If we shook the branch that the bees were clustered around, they simply would fall into the box. Bingo! We were reassured to hear that they were all still full of honey and so could not sting us.  We did not need any protective clothing. There was only any cause for alarm if they had used up their supplies.

The ladder was placed against the tree.  Tish climbed to the top.  I was stationed halfway up the ladder.  Di waited at the bottom.  Tish shook the branch.  Sure enough, the main clump of bees – unexpectedly heavy – dropped into the box as predicted, but this event produced a cloud of satellite insects who did not seem to understand what they were supposed to do.  Outraged, they went on the attack.  Tish, the prime offender, got stung 16 times.  The box was passed hastily down to me (12 stings) and then to Di (6, I think).  I can’t actually remember what happened to the box of bees then, as we all took off and ran as far and as fast as we could from the area.  Someone then pulled out all the beestings for us, but that is rather hazy now:  the moment of drama was gone.

None of our parents were in the least concerned about this incident, as far as I am aware.”