There was plenty of cause for reminiscing at St Margaret’s Bushey (Hertfordshire) recently thanks to the sterling efforts of one determined lady.
Months of detective work came to fruition for Michele Olie when eight of the original team who undertook a World Challenge expedition to Northern India in the summer of 1994 travelled from far and wide to reunite at the Independent School for Girls, 20 years later.
“My son is heading off on expedition to South Africa this summer and it dawned on me that it is now 20 years since we went off to India,” explained Michele, who was an art teacher at the school at the time and now lives in Somerset.
“I had a trawl about on the internet and eventually managed to track down all the girls who’d travelled apart from our Expedition Leader Ian Anderson, who was no longer on World Challenge’s database.
“All the girls seemed keen on a reunion so I contacted St Margaret’s who were happy to host the event, then I kept everyone abreast of developments through a Facebook group page.”
The eight who attended were Michele, Nicola and Emma Moores (both Lincolnshire), Smita and Monica Nath (London), Roz Tadman (Gloucestershire), Nicola Earle (London) with Helen Maunder-Taylor travelling from Australia, as she was able to combine the trip with her grandmother’s 100th birthday celebrations!
“It was lovely to see them all again – some of us have stayed in touch more than others over the years but we had a great time and even managed to watch a DVD containing our expedition footage and shared lots of photos, which helped bring the memories flooding back,” she added.
Michele’s legacy has lived on with her two children, Alexander and Matthew, both signed up to overseas schools expeditions whilst she firmly believes that her World Challenge experience gave her the necessary life experience and valuable transferable skills needed for later life.
“My friends are always astonished at what I can pull out of my handbag! I’m never without a penknife or a first aid kit,” she said.
“Also the Far From Help Medical Course I undertook prior to the expedition has proved extremely valuable as a mother of two very active boys and it also helped when my husband collapsed unexpectedly.
“Taking on an expedition is a fantastic way for young people to push themselves outside of their comfort zone, both physically and mentally, whilst at the same time experiencing international cultures and forging life-long friendships.”