In 1970 I was a 5th year pupil at St Edmund Campion comprehensive school, Lea, Preston. In the summer of that year a party of us stayed at Castlerigg Manor. I remember being amazed by the Lake District; its beautiful hills and the gorgeous setting the Manor is in. Staying there for a few days was a real treat and a revelation both spiritually and emotionally.

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We’d never seen a chapel so informally set out or listened to such meditative music. Our parishes then were extremely formal and traditional. It was all very different from our church or our school settings. Tasks and discussions were undertaken in a much more relaxed manner. We were encouraged to contribute in our mixed groups. We absorbed knowledge without really realising it. We touched on important issues of life and set thinking about the consequences of our actions.

Going out on the hills was also a wonderful experience. Fr O’Dea strolled along with us and chatted to all of as we walked. He had a pleasant, relaxed, easy going manner, with a bit of Irish humour thrown in for good measure. A very genial, warm, person.

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The Games Room also impressed us with its table tennis and snooker tables and the record player. The days of records! I think Simon and Garfunkel was top of the charts, with “Bridge over Troubled Waters”. I know we seemed to play it and “Cecilia” endlessly, on pleasant summer evening.

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Staying at Castlerigg Manor as a pupil was a wonderful experience. It has stayed with me and has enriched each time I went with school parties as a young teacher at St Cuthbert Mayne High School in the late 1970s.

As a young teacher going with a group from St Cuthbert Mayne High School, I have one interesting story to relate. During our free time, I happened to over hear some 5th years say they’d brought with them two bottles of cider. Luckily they hadn’t noticed me.

When they’d all gone in for supper, I mentioned these hidden bottles to our school chaplain, Fr Bede More. Being a quick thinking man, he asked us staff to quickly search their rooms whilst they were all in supper. Sure enough the bottles were found and handed over to the Castlerigg Staff.

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We then casually joined the 5th years for our supper. Soon after, the 5th years had filed our, having finished their meal a little earlier than us, we heard some heated shouting in the hall way. Naturally we went out all concerned as to what they were shouting about. Surprise surprise they wouldn’t say and said everything was okay now.

So we returned to our supper all smiles.