Thurston Community College

Celebrating Our 50th Anniversary!

Thurston Community College is excited to be celebrating its 50th anniversary in September 2023. Thurston Upper School first opened its doors to staff and students in September 1973, since then it has thrived and grown in size. We now have 1600 students on roll over two campuses. 




50 Years of TCC in Pictures


 Your Memories in Words

My mum, Dawn Warby, is in photo 67 and photo 82 of your photo slideshow. She started at Thurston Upper School in 1973 as an assistant cook, and then when Mrs Bastin, the Head Cook retired a couple of years later my mum got the job of Head Cook. Two of the other Cooks put in for the same position at the same time, Yvonne Rutter and Jean Carter, but my mum got the job of head cook, and she stayed at the school for 25 years.

I attended Thurston from 1975 - 1978, Mrs Hond was my form tutor in Blue House (Cosford) in B9. There were 12 tutor groups in Blue House. I also recognise Mr Green, the headmaster in photos 105, 108 and 109, plus a lot of the other teachers in those photos. Great times back in the 70's. I still live just 8 miles from Thurston, and I am now Site Manager for 3 SEND schools; Priory School and Angel Hill College in Bury and Aspire at Thurston (the old primary school site). I have 3 children, one of whom is a teacher. All 3 of my children also attended Thurston Community College.

J Warby - Left in 1978
I started at Thurston Upper School in September 1973 in the Lower Sixth Form after the change to the three tier system was introduced. There was no Upper Sixth Form. The school was like a building site. Subjects were limited and classes were small. We only had seven in our A level Maths class. I have fond memories. My three children also attended TCC and my eldest granddaughter has just started this September. After leaving I trained as a nurse and then went on to train as a midwife - a job I loved. I have recently retired and still live locally.

J Burt nee Lecore - Left in 1975
Many a good moment captured at TCC. I most likely gave the teachers a few grey hairs - Mrs Walker for sure... and who doesn’t remember ‘Of Mice and Men’ taught by the hilarious Mr Wooding. I was in Blue House, Mrs Hond was Head of House. Amazing friendship group where we spent most of our breaks talking about boys and giving them all ‘code names’.  

I was previously known as Lisa Bluett, Sister to Gary Bluett. Since leaving school I become a childcare practitioner and then left to become a New born Hearing Screener and I am now soon to complete my second year of midwifery training.

L Ruffles - Left in 2002
Made some great memories at Thurston, I was not known for my academic skills but was always busy in the lighting booth, running the lights for Lindifarne and Herman's Hermits. Setting out 100's of exam desks in May for the prepping of GCSE and A level exams with the Caretakers Kevin and Robin. Hours and hours moving desks from under the auditorium to the Sports Barn.  How times have changed. Now working for Hughes as Group Stock Control and Data Protection Manager, Finally gaining a decent Maths and English Grade.

M Aston - Left in 1998

Got there in sept of 73 in the 3rd year at 13. Place was full of builders. I'd been at an all boys school in London as I'd failed my 11 plus that I hated.

Thurston had green spaces, sports hall, fantastic metalwork and woodwork rooms.... and GIRLS!
I was assessed and went into mostly top streams.... within a few weeks I was where I belonged in the case basic groups. My school in London was a learn by the numbers place and I had learned to copy, cheat or work the academics.... but know nothing!

I talked my way into the lower sixth as I argued that for somebody as articulate as me to have failed 8 'o' levels and as many case's, including English and maths was at least on some level a problem with the school.
In yellow house, I had the best time in the lowered 6th locking horns with Mr Piccardo. The school strike, Being locked out of the common room and having a sit in in the corridor.

I still failed all exams at the end of the year. Didn't know I needed glasses to read until much later.
I'm in Australia now, 2 brilliant kids, both clever and still shoe the odd horse or two. I live on the Gippsland lakes which are stunning.

A Parry (now living in Australia) - Left in 1978

My maiden name was Mitchell. I have sent a photo of the French exchange school trip 1977. My French teacher was Mrs Hardwick and Mmlle Danielle who went onto become Mrs. O’Hare. French was my favourite subject along with History. Both subjects remain a favourite and I still speak reasonable French. I remember Mrs Doran well, I was part of the Dance group she ran. We performed occasionally in assemblies. I also enjoyed tennis and played for house competitions. I was in Yellow House; Mr Simpson and Mrs Cole were House Heads. I also remember Mr Stammers (Maths), Mr Jackson (History), ‘old’ Mr Brown (English lit), Mrs Hall (English Language), Mrs Clarke (Human Biology) or they might be the other way round… I stayed onto the Lower Sixth converting some CSE’s to O levels and a crash O level Human Biology I required for SRN nursing. I went onto have a 33 year career in nursing. I first worked in Paediatrics, then Primary Care, finally as a Respiratory Nurse Specialist. I owe Mr Cowell (Careers) thanks for he convinced the nursing school that RE was an academic O level. I loved my time at TUS and look back at those early days of the school with fondness. I remember the school ‘strike’; we loved the ‘house system’ and didn’t want to go back to the ‘year system’. I always wore school uniform even in the Sixth Form! I conformed mostly; probably known as a ‘swot’ with a ‘posh’ accent in the 70’s. Made some lifelong friends while at TUS. I am now retired from nursing but busy as ever with grandchildren and a part time job in fashion retail. My daughters also attended TCC in the 2000’s. Lucie Rush (née Murray) came back to work in your Inclusion department before she went onto have her first child. I still live in Suffolk, the Waveney Valley area.

J Williams - Left in 1978

My twin sister and I absolutely loved our time at Thurston. Wonderful memories of a very special time in our lives. Our time in Sixth Form was particularly brilliant, as we were part of a fantastic group of friends. Fond memories of messing around in the auditorium on our 'frees' - playing Strike it Lucky and Whose Line is it Anyway. Getting up to all sorts of daft things. Loved all the fancy dress days- like the 1980's one. Getting involved in the student reviews performances- Louise and I became 'the jolly spiffers' and made Mr Fawcett sing our version of the 12 days of Christmas. Both me and my twin are artists. Louise was an art teacher before becoming a full-time artist. She has recently produced paintings for the front cover of this year’s FA cup semi-final and final match day programmes. I am an artist that paints for a Christmas card company. I paint snowy scenes all year! We both live in Stowmarket.

S Kulesa - Left in 1997

Some of the best days of my life, first in in the new 6th form. Mr Napier was head, I also remember Mr Cook, and Mr O’hare. If I remember, the sports field was very stony, as it was the first year. Had great days for 2 years. Spent 39 years in the financial industry, now retired and living near Kings Lynn.

C Demoore - Left in 1977

I attended Thurston from 1974-1977. My family had moved from California in the summer of 1974 as my parents decided to return to East Anglia after emigrating to the US in 1956. My younger brother and younger sister also attended Thurston during the same period. What has remained with me to this day is how welcoming and accepting all of the teachers were toward us - Mr Simpson and Mrs Cole of Blackbourne house, Mr Keeling, Mr Sear, Mr Cowell, ‘old’ Mr Brown and ‘young’ Mr Brown, Mr Lee, Mr Cook, Mr O’Hare - the list is long but their understanding of how difficult it was, particularly back then, to move to another country and culture at that age has always been appreciated. My memories are about the people - students and teachers, freezing out on the football pitch with the flint cutting your legs, walking down the main hall on our first day, first hour, and a student from our village whispering to her friends, of course loud enough for us to hear, “those are the Yanks I told you about”, and once the English reserve had broken down, and the curiosity taking hold, being asked, “I have a cousin with the last name Smith who lives in Kansas. Do you know him?” to which I answered, politely, “hmmm, I don’t think so.” Playing sports and being willing to try any sport was an ice-breaker. Rugby, cricket, field hockey (and being reminded by Mr Edwards with his Welsh lilt, “Mr Pipe, this isn’t ice hockey” after sending someone flying.) We tried every sport on offer and bridged a gap with so many students who realized we weren’t so bad after all, in fact a lot like them, but with a different accent. I think two of the most important aspects that came from Thurston are the life lessons that became clear later in life. The first being resilience and adaptability. I’ve now travelled all over the world and have always been comfortable in countries other than my own. The second is to have a willingness to be “curious and not judgmental” about people, places and experiences, particularly being on the ‘judged’ side of the equation when we first started. It is a place that provided so many memories but also very much shaped me as person. Congratulations on achieving 50 years!

E Pipe (now retired near San Diego, California) - Left in 1977

I still live locally. I remember the walkout of the pupils while I was there. I still remember lots of the old teachers, from my time including the Head of Green House Mr Siderfin. He was a disciplinarian. Got kicked out of school a couple of times... and still ended up being a prefect. These days I run my own business restoring classic cars. I’m married with three awesome kids, the eldest of which has just completed her Doctorate.

D Manning - Left in 1977

I was one of the original 6th form who arrived in early September 1973, while the school was still being finished off! This was due to an earlier national builder's strike. There was NO Upper 6th, just a Lower 6th as the pupils came from the combined Beyton Secondary and Ixworth Secondary Modern Schools. It was really interesting, although a bit of an academic stretch to go from CSE (foundation GCSE?) to A Levels. Like many of us in the initial cohorts, I didn't do well academically! I left at 18, spent 6 years in the Army (Royal Engineers), left the services, studied for an HND, then degree in Civil Engineering. I have worked on construction projects all over the world. I also became a Chartered Engineer, married with 3 sons. Still working full time in the Insurance industry as an expert advisor on global infrastructure and building projects. Live in Sussex.

C Trencher - Left in 1975

I left Thurston in 1993 and am now a Deputy Head in West London. I tell my students about Thurston and how there were no fences but nobody bunked because the only thing to do was go sit in a field! Also, that because there were almost no stairs we called it “the biggest bungalow in Suffolk”. The school may be 50 years old (and I recall some bits seemed to be built from cardboard and we were always frustrated that we never got to go in the little garden quads) but after 25 years teaching I’ve still never taught in a building as new or as fit-for-purpose as Thurston was!

C Pott - Left in 1993

I had a great time at school. I made some good friends some of whom I am still in contact with now. I will never forget sitting in the lighting booth when on the Stage Crew and getting to make a performance special.

E Travers - Left in 2000

I was forever getting in trouble for not having my shirt tucked in! I got a degree in print advertising from Ipswich and now live in the States as a freelance designer/teacher.

H Landes - Left in 1991

I trained to be a teacher at Thurston and worked there for 5 brilliant years. Thurston will always be a special place to me.

E Wozniak (Staff) - Left in 2022

I was one of the first groups of students to start at TUS. In fact the school wasn't finished so our year group (3rd years) were last to start. 5th and 6th form started and it was October before we started. Science was taught from a trolley wherever there was a spare room. I was in Thingoe house with Mrs Spraggins as Deputy Head of House. I have forgotten the house heads name. I went into teaching… 34yrs at Portslade Community College in Sussex. I retired in 2015 but still work in a school as admin assistant for the Careers Department.

J Davis - Left in 1978

I have the fondest memories of my time at TCC. I attended from 2009-2011 and I couldn’t have wished for a better high school experience! I distinctly remember how fun the lessons were at TCC. History with Mrs Wapshott, Geography with Mrs Bennett and Spanish with Mr Fisk were personal highlights! I am incredibly grateful for the teachers I had and their willingness to help me succeed. Thanks to them I passed my GCSEs, went to college, and finally went to university and got my degree. I then secured my role as an SEN Teaching Assistant in a primary school. I also made several friends at TCC, many of whom I am fortunate enough to still be in contact with today. We often reminisce about our school days, particularly the times spent having fun on the school field at lunch time. I even married a fellow former student of TCC! We started dating in the summer holidays before starting Year 11, and we got married in September 2022. We’ve been together 13 years this year! Thank you TCC for the most fun, carefree years of my life!

L Ryder - Left in 2011

My memories of TUS have to be put into context of what came before!

As ‘Eleven plus’ failures, the initial cohort of students came in from Beyton and Ixworth Secondary Schools. My year group had already completed four years of 

‘Horticulture’, where we were taught ‘double digging’, at the time a very useful technique for the family vegetable garden, and ‘Woodwork’, how to make such things as a ‘stopped housing’ joint!

Elton John was a little known warm up act for the Beach Boys at Wembley stadium, and Simon and Garfunkel had just released their classic album ‘Bridge over troubled Water’, just in time for the sixth form party!

TUS was a wonderful second chance! Our group moved from Beyton as a class of students who had been together for four years. We all knew each other well, and had a well-established routine of humour, fun and having a good time. The fact we were primarily in school to be educated, and that meant hours of study and concentration, was a concept that had passed most of us by! Playing football, being in the countryside, and parties with the girls at the weekends, was really what we lived for!

We arrived at Thurston to find a half-finished building. It was a vast, single storey, warren of corridors and half-finished rooms. The library, which was used as a dispersal point to other areas, was full of rolls of carpet, which we used to sit on while waiting. 

The canteen was similar, with all food being brought in from somewhere off site. Builders were sawing and hammering.

The Auditorium was amazing! It was complete, and with its sloping floor and flipping seats, really was state of the art. I remember the curtains were red and orange, with very futuristic ‘seventies style’ patterns.

The day started with registration. This was uniquely, a mixture of all age groups. An interesting concept, as it brought us together with people, we would otherwise have had no contact with. 

The ‘Tannoy’ was used to give out the daily announcements, including the tuck shop opening times, and the sale of pork and bean Rancheros!! 

Various school productions were always popular, and fun to be part of. ‘Merry England’ sticks in the mind, with its mediaeval costumes and fascinating re-enactment of ancient England’s customs and culture.  

We soon adapted, and the building was soon completed. Many of us took the chance to stay on and move into the very first Sixth Form and study A levels.

University was certainly not the norm at that time, but there were many Polytechnics (most that later became Universities) that offered further education and an advanced academic path.

Any school is only as good as its teachers, and the new Thurston project was blessed with many. One such, who had a very big influence on me, was Alan ‘Big Al’ Simpson. A gentle Geordie, who had made the move across from Beyton with us; he had taken on the role of Head of Blackbourne (Yellow) house. He taught Maths, not at all my subject, but he made it interesting for me. He also used his role to mentor and encourage me, and I know many others too, motivating us to believe we could make a difference and be of real value as we prepared for life after education.

I found him a few years ago, in his retirement, as I wanted to thank him for the influence and guidance he had on my life, and we had a wonderful morning sharing our memories and chatting about so much from that time.

A story that still brings a smile, was one Friday afternoon, when the then Head of Sixth Form, Ed Picardo, returned to his office, only to find it full to the ceiling with soft cushions from the Sixth Form common room! It was a joint effort, but not one of the perpetrators was around to help him return them!

My overriding emotion of time at TUS, is of enjoyment and being part of a real community, it set me up well for life!

R Balmer - First year group at TUS

Send your images and memories below!

To celebrate this milestone anniversary, there will be numerous events and celebrations throughout the Autumn term. As part of this, there will be a display of photographs from the past 50 years.  We are seeking help from ex students and staff, if you have any memories/photographs you wish to share please complete the form below.  These will form part of the displays which will be open to the public.


 TCC Turns 50 in The News

Bury Free Press