Dennis Pepper's Memories of Meldreth School

Dennis Pepper talking about the Clean Hands Badge
Dennis Pepper talking about the Clean Hands Badge (2 min 36 secs)
A transcription of this audio clip is in the accompanying text.
Dennis Pepper pictured in 2007 | Photograph by Laura Betts
Dennis Pepper pictured in 2007
Photograph by Laura Betts
Dennis Pepper pictured at Meldreth Primary School in 1928 | Photograph supplied by Ann Handscombe
Dennis Pepper pictured at Meldreth Primary School in 1928
Photograph supplied by Ann Handscombe

In the 1920s, the infants were under the charge of Miss Wedd who was a strict disciplinarian.  A scheme was started at the school, whereby the hands and nails of pupils were checked upon arrival at school each morning.  If their hands were clean, then a tick was placed against their name on a chart that was displayed in the classroom.  When sufficient ticks had been given, a badge was awarded.

Here, Dennis Pepper (a pupil at the school from 1927 to 1936)  recounts what happened to his badge:

Well, I’d only had the thing a day or two and we were standing around in the house waiting for one or two other members of the family, a couple of the girls, to get ready to go to Royston on the bus. We used to have two buses a week then.  I thought my badge looked a little bit dull so I gave it a bit of spit and polish and popped it in my mouth and all of a sudden it was gone!  You’ve never seen such a commotion.  Everybody was jumping up and down.  Anyway a neighbour who lived just up the road, John Patterson his name was, came and I was strapped to him on the back of his motor bike and taken to Addenbrookes Hospital to be X-rayed.  They decided they wouldn’t do anything too drastic like cut me open and everything turned out alright after two or three days!  I had two or three days off school and I went back when I was well and I said “Where’s the chart, what’s happened to it”.  It had been taken down and nobody else got a badge I don’t think. That was the end of the “Clean Hands” badges!

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