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1950s Athletic Group

I believe this photo to have been taken c1954. My late husband Michael Tonks started at Varndean c1953, so am guessing this athletic group in which he is shown, would be about that time.

Can you recognise anyone here?
Unfortunately I have no names for the other boys or the master. Perhaps if you recognise yourself or can identify anyone else, you will leave a comment below.

My late husband Michael Tonks is second right front row.
From the private collection of Jennifer Tonks nee Smith

Comments about this page

  • I should have said Michael is fourth right, front row or second from left, front row. Should anyone like a copy please feel free to email me at

    By Jennifer Tonks (nee Smith) (09/07/2009)
  • Re the picture posted by Jennifer Tonks 09/07/2009 – I believe the person in the back row far right was one of my best friends – Philip (Phil) Morgan. The problem is in 1954 he would only have been 7 or 8 years old! As the earliest he could have started at Varndean would have been 11, the photo would have needed to been taken in 1957/8 – is that possible? As I went to Dorothy Stringer, I do not recognise anyone else.

    By Gary Murphy (16/07/2009)
  • According to the Varndean School lists, Phil Morgan started at Varndean in 1959 and Michael Tonks in 1953. So it is unlikely they are both in this photo.

    By Bruce Duplock (07/09/2009)
  • Front row: far left Geoff Havell I think far right Peter Love. I was in that year group and have some pictures taken at CCF camp Castlemartin 1956. Michael Tonks is in them.

    By Bryan Roberts (19/09/2009)
  • Hallo Bryan Roberts, Gary Murphy, Bruce Duplock – sorry for the late reply. Bryan, I would be most interested to see the photos. If you would be happy to let me have a copy let the editor know please. Bruce thank you for pointing the year out to me. Gary, I was guessing my late husband Michael to have been 13ish in the photo so 1955/56. Many thanks

    By Jennifer Tonks (nee Smith) (24/10/2009)
  • Hi Jennifer. That is me front row 1st from left. I started at Varndean in 55 and left in 59. Michael O’Reilly is next to the teacher. He was my best mate. I am pretty sure that we were the Cross Country Team. I have lived in Melbourne Australia since 1963. I am a tour guide now and drive a small bus. It sure has brought back some memories. Best wishes.

    By Geoff Havell (05/11/2010)
  • Now I recognise Micky O’Rielly (aka Gripple Grabble Gridly due to his insatiable appetite) and I think it is Gordon Morris next to him. Can only just recall your face Geoff, but certainly knew you when you were there. Neither me (aka RC) or Peter Serres are in the picture, but we too were in that year and still keep in touch.

    By Roy Grant (08/02/2011)
  • Just found this page. I was at Varndean from 1952 and remember all these faces except for the one at the middle bottom row. Thanks heavens some of you have been able to recall the names because I couldn’t! Lovely old photo though, which brings back many memories.

    By Graham Sharp (12/12/2013)
  • I have just seen the picture online of Michael, just how I remember him. We all lived in Bevendean, all part of a lovely big gang of kids from the junior school and the area.

    Michael and Alan Greening went to Varndean, I went to the girls’ version. Some of the other boys were Michael Wenham, Billy Onions, John Greening, David Round and others whose names I’ve forgotten. 

    I’m so sorry to hear that Michael has died,  he was certainly a great boy and I’m sure he turned out to be a lovely chap.


    By Dianna Leadbeater (Swann) (24/01/2014)
  • Hallo Dianna.Yes Michael and I married 1971.He sadly died early 2004.Those names you mentionI recall a Brian Wenham but can’t remember the other names. He did indeed grow into a lovely man.

    By Jennifer Tonks (26/01/2014)
  • I remember Phil Morgan, he was at Varndean in the early 60s. I also remember Pete Travis and Mike Winch who both were very successful athletes. I had great fun at Varndean, both in the CCF and in the athletics team. I subsequently left Brighton to forge a career in processing plants in the meat industry.

    By Tim Baker (16/01/2020)

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