Last spring we ran an initiative linking current pupils with mostly retired alumni to exchange letters, cards and drawings. We had an amazing response and in the end considerably over 100 children and older alumni shared correspondence as a result of this initiative. Many remain in regular contact which is wonderful.

This new lockdown has brought up new challenges with the weather restricting activities even further, although this time we hope that the vaccination programme is at least helping you to feel more positive. Until restrictions ease, however, I suspect we will all have moments when we feel lonely and bored.  We have had lots of lovely feedback thanking us for setting up the links in springtime and have been so encouraged by the response that we have decided to offer you the same opportunity now.

If you would like to receive a card or letter from a child or if your child would like to write to an elderly former pupil, we can easily arrange for that to happen. All we need is for you to let us know. Please note that we would like to hear from you whether or not you were involved last year. You can reach us in one of three ways:

  • By telephoning Suzi in the ESMS Development Office on 0131 311 1131
  • By writing to Suzi at ESMS Development Office, Queensferry Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3EZ
  • By emailing Suzi at development@esms.org.uk

That is all you need to do – Suzi will take care of the practical arrangements by identifying a suitable match. Once identified, Suzi will share the addresses of both parties with each other so that you are able to write directly. Although there is no obligation to reply we would be very grateful to you if you do so, as we know from last year’s feedback that the friendships that developed were rather meaningful to both parties!

If you are not sure whether you would like get involved, I hope that Norma’s comments will encourage you to respond positively to this initiative:

“I became a pupil of Mary Erskine School for Girls in 1944 and remember fondly my time at Kindergarten in Ravelston, followed by school attendance at Queen Street.  I have so many happy memories of my school years at Mary Erskine. 

Last year, during the Lockdown, Bryan set up a Pen Pal system with current pupils and alumni and he enquired whether I would like to participate.  Sadly, my husband had just died during the Lockdown so at that time, I wasn’t in a good place to be able to contribute.  However, a few months later, I contacted him again to say that I felt I would now be able to enjoy receiving correspondence from a Mary Erskine pupil.  This turned out to be one of the best things I’d done, which helped me greatly and gave me a focus during my bereavement.  The correspondence with Hannah has brought me great joy and the Development Office excelled themselves in arranging such a perfect match.  The pairing couldn’t have been better as we have so many similar interests.  We both enjoy letter writing and are never at a loss for something to say to each other.  It’s like receiving one instalment after the other! 

For anyone who is considering a Pen Pal relationship, I can thoroughly recommend what a rewarding relationship and experience it can be and it has been fun.  Hannah and I were first “paired” in June 2020 and seven months later we still have plenty to say to each other.  A relationship between young and old is most enjoyable.  Please do not hesitate to give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Norma A. S. Sands. 

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