The Annie Walsh Memorial School (AWMS) Old Girls’ Association (UK Branch) was founded in 1984. On 19th January, 2016 it was entered onto the Register of Charities in England and Wales with the Registered Charity Number 1165222.
It was one lovely weekend 6000 miles from the foot hills of Mount Aureol in Freetown, in the home of the late Mrs Constance Cole-Wilson, deep in London’s East End that the Annie Walsh Old Girls Association UK was formed.
It was the birthday of Mrs Constance Cole-Wilson that weekend and she had invited her school friends to celebrate with her at her residence in Stepney. They all had a lovely time and the guests left in an exuberant mood.
Mrs Robinca Jarrett, a relation of Mrs Constance Cole-Wilson stayed back and expressed the good times they had had and trusting it would happen again soon. It was at that moment that AWOGA UK was formed - the two ladies decided to form Annie Walsh Old Girls Association UK in order to regularly meet with their friends and raise funds for their old School in Freetown.
These ladies contacted their friends and the first meeting was held at the residence of Mrs Constance Cole-Wilson’s in Stepney, London. With an increase in membership the High Commissioner at the time allowed the meetings to be held at the Sierra Leone High Commission in Portland Place, central London. Mrs Constance Cole-Wilson was the first President and Mrs Belinda Mason-John, the Secretary.
Shortly after its inception a well-known BBC Broadcaster who was one of our own son of the soil, the Late Mr Roland Buck, invited AWOGA UK’s President at the time for an interview at the BBC’s Bush House in London. She explained how the Annie Walsh Memorial School was founded by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and how it obtained its name as well as the objectives of the Association in the UK.
This was broadcast over the BBC World Service and old girls from all over the world made contact with AWOGA UK offering their support. The feedback was great and support started to flow in which led to an increase in membership.
A decision was taken to host a Thanksgiving Service to coincide with the same in Freetown and was held at St Alban the Martyr. Subsequent services took place at City Temple, Holborn Viaduct. The 160th year of the Annie Walsh Memorial School was celebrated at Holy Trinity Church, Clapham, UK where the Clapham Sects worshiped including William Wilberforce who was behind the abolition of the Slave Trade. This church has a bit of history of Sierra Leone and the founders of our great female institution the Church Missionary Society (CMS).
The first luncheon sale was held at Streatham at the home of Mrs Robinca Jarrett where the ladies sat at tables around the Lido at the back of her residence. Thereafter luncheon sales were held in school halls in the South East and West of London.
The 170th anniversary year was held at St Mark’s, Oval and hundreds of AWOGA UK members and non-members attended in uniform.
The first dinner and dance was held at the Imperial Hotel, Russell Square and AWOGA UK ladies attended in their numbers where all in their finery, they had a wonderful time. AWOGA UK continues to give thanks to God for this great institution which has educated millions of girls (boys in the early years).
AWOGA UK has been successful ever since and still going strong. We salute those ladies who have taken the decision to become members – this has been instrumental in helping to keep our Alma Mater going from strength to strength. You have left your mark.
AWOGA UK was founded by the following ex-pupils:
o Mrs Beatrice Ajibade
o Mrs Joyce Anderson
o Mrs Irene Buckle-Macauley (deceased)
o Mrs Adeline Cole
o Mrs Constance Cole-Wilson (deceased)
o Mrs Robinca Jarrett
o Mrs Lucinda Lake (deceased)
o Mrs Patricia Nicol
o Mrs Sally Quashie (deceased)
o Mrs Gladys Sumner (deceased)
1984 -1985 Mrs Constance Cole-Wilson (deceased)
1985 – 1986 Mrs Robinca Jarrett
1986 – 1987 Mrs Lucinda Lake (deceased)
1987 – 1989 Mrs Adeline Cole
1989 – 1991 Rev’d Marionette Macauley (deceased)
1991 – 1993 Mrs Adeline Cole
1993 – 1995 Mrs Nanette Horsford
1995 – 1997 Mrs Nanette Horsford
1997 – 1999 Mrs Florence Anderson
1999 – 2001 Mrs Florence Anderson
2001 – 2003 Mrs Sally Spain
2003 – 2005 Mrs Sally Spain
2005 – 2007 Mrs Nanette Johnson-Reid
2007 – 2009 Mrs Nanette Johnson-Reid
2009 – 2011 Mrs Margaret Riby-Williams
2011 – 2013 Mrs Nanette Johnson-Reid
2013 – 2015 Rev’d Nellie Showers
2015 – 2017 Rev’d Nellie Showers
2017 – 2019 Ms Mel Sawyer
2019 – 2021 Ms Mel Sawyer
2021 – 2023 Ms Claudia Bultman
Over the years the Association has grown to a total membership of around 300, with an average of 35 at actual monthly meetings and over 90 at virtual meetings. Members are kept informed of the affairs of the School through emails, minutes, newsletter, whatsapp, flyers, and of course, good old word of mouth. At least ten monthly meetings are held throughout the year – there is no meeting in August when the Association takes a break for the summer vacation.
Long live our Association ~ Long live the Annie Walsh Memorial School.