Time capsule lost and found

A time capsule buried in 1988 at St Paul’s Primary School, Gateshead was lost until two of the parents that buried it, returned to the scene 31 years later.

Stephen Vidot and Graham Pritchard, respectively former Parents and Friends president and secretary, had a vested interest in the capsule they had helped bury in 1988, and dropped into the school to see if it had been dug up.

The school had tried to find the time capsule’s location in 2013, but failed.

Mr Pritchard was “thrilled” to be able to lead the staff to the correct location.

“Both Stephen and I knew where it was, so it took us no more than 10 minutes and we located it,” Mr Pritchard said. “The school thought it was buried on the other side of the flagpole towards the rose garden, which would have been under a concrete gutter. But we knew it wasn’t, and located it very quickly, much to the delight of the principal and staff.”

Once the capsule was located, principal Greg Cumming set plans in place to dig it up on the feast day of St Paul, one of the biggest days on the school’s calendar.

“We celebrate St Paul’s feast day every year, as he is our patron saint and we try and model ourselves not just on Jesus, but on St Paul,” Mr Cumming said. “He’s got a great story. He was a traveller who shared God’s word and that’s what we want our kids to do.”

Mr Pritchard and Mr Vidot recovered the time capsule on 4 July in front of school students and staff. This was followed by a liturgy, which included displaying the items from the capsule.

Inside the 1988 time capsule was a copy of the Newcastle Herald and The Catholic Education Reporter, a staff photograph, artwork and school patch.

Present at the excavation was Rowan Kelly, who had been in kindergarten when the time capsule was buried in 1988. He recalls that day. “I was one of the youngest ones sitting here watching it being buried,” he said. “I remembered what was in it. I told mum exactly what was in it and I was right.”

Three generations of Mr Kelly’s family were present including his mum Kathleen, a teacher’s aide at the school, and his two daughters. When asked what changes he had noticed at the school since that time, he said although there were many new buildings and resources, “it’s still the same caring place it was when I was a student”.  

Mr Cumming said St Paul's was preparing for a building program and the school hoped to bury a new capsule in a year.

“I think it would be great for the school to bury another capsule — and remember where it is,” Mr Pritchard said with a laugh.

Photo: Stephen Vidot, Graham Pritchard, teacher's aide Kathleen Kelly, her son and former student Rowan Kelly, his daughters Lilah and Abigail Kelly, and principal Greg Cumming.

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Brooke Robinson Image
Brooke Robinson

Brooke is Content Officer for the Communications Team in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle