Eileen Mary Durrant: 1938-43

Eileen Mary Durrant: 1938-43

Eileen’s daughter, Ann Russell writes: My mother, Eileen Mary Durrant, sadly passed away on 18th April 2021 in East Surrey Hospital. She was aged 94 years and leaves her loving husband George (they were married for 67 years). She also leaves two daughters: Jill and Ann; grandchildren Claire, David, Joanne, Nicholas, Alex and Charlotte and great grandchildren Elsbeth and Alara.

She attended Old Palace from 1938 to 1943. She loved her school years and never stopped talking fondly of her time there. The nuns had a big influence on her and she kept her bible and prayer books they gave her.

She was evacuated to Eastbourne in 1939. She was given a gas mask and the children were paraded at Eastbourne train station. They were given biscuits and emergency rations. Local people came to a hall and were given rations for the children. Then volunteers took any remaining children to houses – knocking on doors to see who would have them.

Eileen was taken in by a lady who ran a guesthouse. The teachers from Old Palace School accompanied the children and slots at a local college were arranged, so they could continue their studies. Eileen was only there three months until December 1939, as the bombing that was expected didn’t happen. This was ironic as she was sent back home to Thornton Heath when in Spring of 1940 the blitz bombing started.

She talked so fondly of her time there and I know how much the nuns and School really shaped her life. She felt very blessed to have won a scholarship to enable her to attend this wonderful School.