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Reunited after almost 50 Years!
by Jane Connell (Lewis) PGS pupil 1965–1972
I started attending Pembroke Grammar School in September 1965. My first foreign language choice was French, my second choice German. That year however, everyone seemed to want to learn French, and as the first letter of my surname (Lewis) was quite a way down the alphabet, I was put in the German class, much to my disappointment. Little did I know then, that this was a blessing in disguise.

That year the German department was lucky to have engaged the services of Ursula Vollmer, a young German assistant teacher. Her enthusiasm and humour made lessons very enjoyable. She taught us German rhymes and songs, which she sang to the guitar, and answered our questions about Germany. She even organised a pen-pal project between our beginners’ German class and pupils from the first-year English class of her school in Herborn, Germany. With her help, we each wrote a short introductory letter in German, which she forwarded to her school in Herborn. We were then each paired up with a German pupil who had just started learning English. The excitement mounted as the first letters arrived from our pen- pals. I received a letter in English from 11 year old Ursula Petry, or Uschi, as I later called her and I wrote back in the little German I knew at the time. Our letters continued long after Ursula Vollmer left Pembroke Grammar School in July 1966 to return to Germany.

My first visit to my pen-pal in Herborn took place in the summer of 1971 and at the end of six weeks I had become one of the family. Many more visits and letters followed. When I finally moved to Germany in 1980, I was delighted to be only an hour’s drive away from Herborn and my “new family”. More letters, emails and phone calls followed when Uschi moved to the USA. We last met up in May this year and remain the best of friends.

Throughout the years, I often thought of Ursula Vollmer and how my life would have been very different if she hadn’t come to Pembroke Grammar School. In June 2012, I happened to mention her name to some of Uschi’s relatives. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that they knew her and that she was still living in Herborn. One phone call later and we were in touch again after almost 50 years and making plans to meet. Our reunion took place in August at Ursula’s beautiful home in Herborn. We had a wonderful time catching up and reminiscing and thought it only right to share our story with The Penvro.

Jane studied French and German at Cardiff University, followed by a bi-lingual secretarial course. Having worked for British Steel in Cardiff for a few years, she moved to Germany in 1980. She is married with three children.
Pictured right: Jane and Ursula in Herborn 2012
Ursula & Pupil Jane Lewis
Ursula and a PGS pupil 1966
Jane Lewis in 1966
by Ursula Vollmer in Herborn, Germany
What a surprise when a friend called me some months ago and asked if I had taught at a school in Wales many years ago. She then told me that a certain Jane Connell was looking for me.

Memories came flooding back. In May 1965 I completed my studies at Frankfurt University and obtained my first position as an English teacher in Herborn the very same month. Luckily, my school supervisor approved my application to leave Herborn in September 1965 to take up a 10-month post as assistant teacher at Pembroke Grammar School. What an adventure it was for me back then at the age of 23, to teach German to 11 to 18 year olds! One of my pupils was Jane.

When Jane contacted me after almost 50 years, I was so moved I could hardly speak. Her visit in August, shortly before my 70th birthday, was a wonderful present. Jane’s pen friend Uschi lives in the United States, but all three of us do hope to meet up in the very near future.

My very fond memories of Pembroke and PGS include being invited to the Mayoral Lunch in May 1966 by the Mayoress, Mrs. Margaret Mathias, walks along the sea at Freshwater Bay, the beautiful school grounds, Bush House Boarding School looking like a stately home, boys and girls in school uniform, sharing lunch with them, all my friendly colleagues, and pupils like Jane.

Ursula Vollmer will be delighted to hear from anyone who remembers her. She can be contacted via The Penvro. Click on the CONTACTS-LINKS page for email details
Jane & Ursula 2012
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