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Stromness Academy 1944
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Stromness Academy 1944

Stromness Academy ?3rd year Secondary, ?1944.
Boys L to R: my older brother Rognvald Hourston (not a dwarf; he's standing on the same step as the rear two girls), Jack Moar, Ian (actually John) MacLeod, Mitchell Collins (a giant, well over 6' at age 14), John Cook (classics master), Norman ('Cocky') Spence, (Andrew) Leslie Thomson (on same step as Rognvald), Willy Turmeau. Three boys are in Army Cadet Force uniform.
I'll be well off the mark with the girls' names - too young at the time to be interested - but here goes: ? Waters, ? Borwick, ??, ? Isbister, Iris Stout, ??, Reta Brown, Lorna Flett.
I think the photo would have been taken by 'Sinclair Studios' Kirkwall, and a very good one it is. Please correct and add names if you can.
Picture added on 17 October 2010 at 22:18
No, that's not Reta Brown is it?
Added by Ian Hourston on 18 October 2010
The Norman Spence I think by the dates is my grandad, not too sure though.
Added by G. Spence on 21 January 2012
The Norman Spence referred to in Stromness school photo - I wonder if he was a son of Willie and Mary Spence, Hillside Rd? My grandmothers maiden name was Barbara Sinclair from Stronsay and I'm sure her sister Mary lived in Stromness.
Added by Colin Cooper on 21 January 2012
I think you're on the right lines, Colin. I'm no authority on the Spence family, but Norman had 'the mermaid's curse', an extremely rare form of hereditary skin abnormality, affecting mainly the palms and the soles, believed (in fact probably proven) to be confined to descendants of a particular family in Stronsay. I think Norman had eventually to give up his work as a vehicle mechanic (Wishart's Garage) because of this condition. The Stronsay connection, plus my recollection that he did live in Hillside Rd, would seem fairly conclusive.
Added by Ian Hourston on 22 January 2012
Yeah i think thats right, my cousins that live in Dalgety Bay have the same thing. Don't know much about that side of the family.
Added by G. Spence on 22 January 2012
Hi Ian,your info on Norman Spence is correct. I remember as a boy Norman coming on holiday to Stronsay. It would have been during school holidays. He stayed with his aunt Barbara who was my granny - she stayed in a farm cottage at the farm of Housebay.
Added by Colin Cooper on 22 January 2012
yes you are correct that's me dad
Added by Donald Spence on 25 January 2012
Yes, thats my dad
Added by Mel Spence on 29 January 2012
That's my Grandad. Hi Uncles Donald and Mel!

Added by Paul Johnstone on 25 April 2012
I never would have guessed Grandad's nickname was "Cocky".

Added by Paul Johnstone on 25 April 2012
That nickname actually suited him Paul - not that he was overly full of himself, but he was constantly making funny (sometimes hilarious) remarks and asides. I'd rather have had his nickname than my own: Ducky (origin obscure -believed by some to have been my mother's term of endearment for her darling son though in fact she'd have walked barefoot through red-hot coals rather than call her offspring any such thing).
Added by Ian Hourston on 26 April 2012
Yes Norman was my lovely brother-in-law, married to my sister Martha Byers, they married in Orkney in around 1950. He was funny and always gave you a laugh - a great character.
Added by Mary Byers on 26 May 2013
I never knew my Granny's actual name. :)
She was always "Penicuik Gran" to me.
Thanks for sharing that.

Added by Paul Johnstone on 28 May 2013
The skin codition mentioned here did indeed hail fae Stronsay my very good late friend here in "Waas" had such a condition and I understand it hailed from Corsica in the Med and came down through the Fotheringham name for most. A rather embarising condition inherited through some shipwrecked Sailor I suspect.
Added by John Budge on 12 February 2014
Nice to hear from people who knew my brother-in-law Norman, and interesting to hear the stories about the skin condition.

Added by Mary Craig (formerly Byers) on 12 February 2014
I think it was called "The Mermaid's Curse"

Added by Mary Byers (now Mary Craig) on 06 February 2021
Looking for info on the skin condition, I found an article from 2001 by Kath Gourlay on the Telegraph website: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/4765320/How-Mermaids-Curse-may-be-medical-boon.html
Added by Paul Sutherland on 18 February 2021
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