V.E Day: Former students born on historic day celebrate their 70th birthdays

Two former Withernsea High School classmates, who were born on the day that World War II ended, celebrated their 70th Birthdays on Friday.

Friday 8th May marked the 70th anniversary of V.E (Victory in Europe) Day - the day on which the allies of World War II accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces, bringing an end to WWII in Europe. Celebrations erupted throughout the world and over a million people took to the streets of London in jubilation. 

Victoria pictured in V.E Day celebratory style.
Victoria Turrell (nee Croft) and Victor Brown were both born on that momentous day in 1945 and were christened with suitable names in honour of the occasion. In Victoria’s case, her name is the Latin word for Victory.

After leaving Withernsea High School, Victoria attended teacher training college where she studied science. She later obtained a degree through the Open University - going on to teach
chemistry and biology in secondary education for a number of years. Victoria also spent time teaching in a primary environment and went on to become the Headteacher of a school in
Shropshire. She attributes these career successes to the good education she received at Withernsea High School.

Proving that you can achieve your ambitions at any age and time in life, Victoria recently visited Greece - fulfilling a dream which began in a classroom at Withernsea High School over 55 years ago when her teacher, the late Miss Mendham, showed her slides featuring the Acropolis of Athens. Victoria commented: “Thanks to the vision and enthusiasm of Miss Mendham sharing her slides with our class, she helped broaden my horizons and inspired my trip. It was well worth the wait.”

Victoria celebrated her birthday with a party on Saturday. Guests included relatives from Holderness who had travelled to
Shropshire to help her celebrate.

Victor Brown has enjoyed a long and successful career in engineering and aerospace and still enjoys working part-time on advanced energy projects.  Now living in Tacoma, Washington, USA, he is just over 4,680 miles away from his former school. But despite the time that has passed and the distance that now lies between him and rural
Holderness, he still has fond memories of his time here. His most influential teachers included Mrs Hart, a maths teacher who equipped him with the skills needed to
pursue his chosen career. Victor commented: “Mrs Hart left me with an enduring mathematical legacy that has been the foundation of my engineering work, much of what I still do is mathematics.”

Victor's work in engineering has led to him being involved in numerous exciting projects over the years, including work on the VentureStar X-33 project - an unmanned
spaceplane developed in the 1990s under the U.S.
government-funded Space Launch Initiative program. Its goal was to become a replacement for the Space Shuttle that could launch satellites into orbit at a fraction of the cost. Sadly, a hydrogen tank failure during a structural test and difficulties with cost hit the project hard and it was unfortunately shelved. 

Victor and his wife Polly pictured at the summit of Mt. Snowdon

The image below shows one of two rocket motors, designed and built by Victor, under test at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California.

Victor spent his 70th Birthday back in the UK as part of a 6 week visit back ‘home’.  Accompanied by his wife Polly, he spent his special day hiking up Mount Snowdon which, at 3,560 ft above sea level, is the highest mountain in Wales and the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands.

An avid hiker, Victor attributes his love of the outdoors to another influential teacher from his time at Withernsea High. Geography master Mr Brown led Victor and his classmates on field trips which introduced the students to map reading and hiking skills. These skills are put to great use by Victor on a regular basis during his annual returns to the UK where he indulges in a couple of week-long hikes per visit. Back home in the mountainous Northwest USA, he also enjoys hiking and snowshoeing around the area. 

All of us at Withernsea High School wish both Victoria and Victor a very Happy 70th Birthday. We hope they enjoyed their celebrations and we are delighted to learn of their successes in life since leaving the school over 55 years ago. We invite all former students to share their stories with us through our Alumni - please click here for more information.