The search is on for Gregg’s girls

John Robert Gregg, inventor of Gregg shorthand.
John Robert Gregg, inventor of Gregg shorthand.
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The search is on for former pupils of a school in the 150th birthday year of its founder.

June 17 marks the 150th anniversary of John Robert Gregg, who invented Gregg shorthand and founded the Gregg High School for Girls in Jesmond, along with others around the UK, America and Ireland.

Cindy Lightburn, nee Maule, who is organising the reunion.

Cindy Lightburn, nee Maule, who is organising the reunion.

Now former Gregg’s girl Cindy Lightburn is organising a reunion of past-pupils from the Newcastle school on the big day.

“I’d organised several major reunions for my school in the past and felt this significant occasion should be celebrated,” she said.

Gregg devised his own style of shorthand, which enabled much higher speeds to be achieved. He published a book and went on to open several schools, which taught the system.

While Gregg shorthand remained popular in America, the Pitman system of shorthand became more commonly used in the UK and Europe, with many Gregg schools closing. The only surviving school is in Southampton.

Pupils travelled to the Jesmond school from all over the region.

Alma Hall, who now lives in Widdrington Station, remembers journeying from Belsay with at least six others.

She said: “For a small school, it had a dedicated teaching staff producing excellent results.”

June 17 will also be a significant date for twins Alma and Rosalind Storer, from Whitley Bay, who both attended the Gregg School from 1945-1947 and gained the Order of Gregg Artists in both shorthand and typing.

They will be celebrating their 86th birthdays on the day.

Among the former Greggites hoping to attend the reunion is Scottish Opera star Janice Cairns, originally from Ashington.

Cindy hopes to put together a booklet for the event and would welcome information from ex-pupils or anyone connected with the John Robert Gregg Business Awards.

Anyone with stories to share, or who wants to know more about the reunion, can emailgregg150celebration@gmail.com