A GROUP of old school friends have gathered at Bowood Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort near Calne for a tea party to celebrate their 80th birthday.

The seven friends are celebrating eight decades of friendship which began when they all attended schools in Chippenham.

The tea party was organised by Wendy Gaisford, of Devizes, who said: “It was superb. We all enjoyed champagne and tea in the library.”

The seven friends are Wendy Gaisford, Mary Ovens, Sue Travers, Jacqueline Miller, Brenda Bird, Mary Jones, and Rosemary Taylor.

They all went to the Lowden School or St Paul’s School and Ivy Lane Junior School and Chippenham Secondary Modern School in Cocklebury Road before leaving aged 16.

“Three of us started school together 75 years ago, and we met the others at Ivy Lane school,” said Mrs Gaisford.

Wendy now lives in Devizes, and Jacqueline in Swindon, but the others are all still living in the Chippenham area.

One of the group, Mary Ovens, married John Brian Ovens, who was mayor of Chippenham in 1981.

Mrs Miller went on to live in Cyprus for a while, while Mrs Taylor has travelled all over the world.

Mrs Gaisford added: “We meet up on a regular basis in pubs and cafes and like to keep in touch with one another.”