Posts filed under ‘Reunions’

Die „Saga der Van Pletsens“

Chronik der Familie Van Pletsen von Helen Lewald, geb. van Pletsen*

[Aus der Originalsprache Afrikaans ins Deutsche übersetzt und kommentiert von ihrem Sohn, Roon Lewald]

Helen and Albrecht in their Berlin student years

Helen and Albrecht in their Berlin student years


Nachdem meine Mutter im Jahre 1974 in Pretoria die Chronik ihrer Familie handschriftlich verfasst hatte, wurde das von einem Vetter säuberlich getippte Manuskript von ihrer Verwandtschaft als einzig bekannte Ahnengeschichte dieser in Südafrika weit verzweigten, burischen Sippe mit großem Interesse begrüßt. Sozusagen im Samisdat-Verfahren ging die 9-seitige Chronik von Hand zu Hand und tauchte bald auch bei Stammesmitgliedern auf, von deren Existenz nicht einmal sie in ihren eifrigen Recherchen erfahren  hatte. (more…)


August 13, 2011 at 2:19 am 1 comment


In memory of my sister, Deanne Seneschal Raszat, née Lewald, born 31 Jan. 1940 in Durban, South Africa; died 26 Sept. 1996 in Leimen-Gauangelloch, Germany

By Roon Lewald



After cancer won a five-year battle for my elder sister’s life, my brother-in-law sent me a parcel of old studio recordings of Deanne’s singing recitals made by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC/SAUK) between 1953 and 1958. Apart from a pile of yellowed newspaper clips and eistedfodd certificates, they were all that remained of the years when my mother’s coaching of Deanne’s voice propelled her into brief local prominence as a promising young singer. My dutiful elder sister had already been slaving away at her piano lessons for nearly five years when, at the age of 10, our Ma yoked her girlish lyrical soprano too into the musical harness of our parents, both of them singing teachers. At the age of 13, she piped German Lieder and Afrikaans liedjies into an SABC mike for the first time and was introduced on the nationwide “Young South Africa” programme as a young singer with a great future.


April 22, 2009 at 11:42 pm 12 comments

Die Van Pletsen Saga

Click for English

Klik vir genealogie


Deur haar seun, Roon Lewald

Toeval? Bestemming? Nee, net weer ‘n bewys dat die Internet alles weet. Nadat my moeder in 1974 haar handgeskrewe familiegeskiedenis voltooi en ‘n hulpvaardige neef dit mooi netjies vir haar oorgetik het, moes fotokopiëe daarvan soos die bybelse wonder van die visse en brode vermenigvuldig het. Want dit het gretige lesers orals in die Van Pletsen-wêreld gevind, siende dat dit blykbaar die enigste bekende kroniek van my oorlede ma se wydverbreide familie is.

Roon Lewald

Roon Lewald

Nogtans kon ek amper nie my oë glo toe ek in 2008, amper 30 jare na haar dood, toevallig in die Internet op hierdie einste Amerikaanse blog geland en heel bo ‘n sorgvuldige afkskrif van Ma se “Saga” – nogal in Afrikaans met ‘n Engelse vertaling! – ontdek het. Ek het die redaksie in New York dadelik vanaf my huidige woonplek in Bonn, Duitsland gebel en vasgestel dat redakteur Blane van Pletzen-Rands ‘n vérlangse neef en nes ek ‘n emigrant is. As sulks het hy gedurende ‘n besoek by familie in SA ‘n kopie van die manuskrip in die hande gekry. En dis hoekom my ma se Saga nou ‘n ereplek gevind het in ‘n blog wat gedeeltelik geskep is as ‘n virtuele kuierplek vir diegene wat belangstel in die Van Pletsens (oftewel Van Pletzens, soos sommige takke van die familie dit spel).   (more…)

July 5, 2008 at 9:20 am 24 comments

Samuel Begg

By his Grand Daughter, Helen van Pletzen neé Begg, with research by Scott van Pletzen-Rands

28 June 1878 – 13 April 1934

Samuel Begg and Jane Blane I never knew my paternal grandfather as he died in 1934, the year before I was born. He was born into a coal mining family. All his working life he was a coal miner and died suffering from the miner’s disease, silicosis, caused from coal dust in the lungs.

My father said Grandpa kept going to work even when he was ill as he was so loyal to his job. From what I heard of him, from those who knew him, he was a much loved man. His widow, Granny Begg, was very stern and unbending with her strict Baptist belief, but I think Grandpa Begg was a much softer person. I say this as I heard someone saying once that if Granny had died first the children would have been fighting over who could have him staying with them. Grandpa and Granny joined the Baptist Church together as a young couple and were true to the Church all their lives. They had four children, Samuel, Thomas (my father), James and Mary. Sam and Tam left the Church when they could choose for themselves, but Uncle James went on to become a Baptist Church minister and Aunty Mary continued attending Church even although Uncle Robert, her husband did not go. She sang in the Church choir.

When I asked my father about Grandpa Begg’s parents he said I should let sleeping dogs lie. (more…)

April 19, 2008 at 8:35 pm 4 comments

Helen van Pletsen – the Nightingale of Natal

Roon LewaldBy Roon Lewald, son of Helen van Pletsen, author of “The Van Pletsen Saga

In a personal twist to the old show-biz saying that “you haffta be Jewish”, my Afrikaner mother had a stock diagnosis of people she considered too humourless to appreciate the funny side of life. Irritated by an encounter with some particularly dour, self-righteous grudge-bearer, she would shrug and say: “His / her problem is a lack of irony in the blood.” (more…)

March 16, 2008 at 11:13 pm 11 comments

EMM 1982 – 1983

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: England Manchester Mission

January 29, 2008 at 5:53 am 2 comments

Nigel High School Reunions

Ad Altissima

You have found the original Nigel High School Reunion site which I began in 2007.  Since then, many “Old Girls and Boys” from the School and Hostel have stopped by to reconnect and reminisce.  Some pop in and out without comment, but many keep a regular eye on this blog spot.  You are welcome here!

Please feel free to leave a comment if you wish and share a bit of your history with, and memories of, Nigel High School as you knew or know her.  You’ll find the comment section below.

If, on the other hand,  you are looking for information about enrolling as a student at Nigel High School or enrolling at the Hostel, please click here now to be redirected to the contemporary school website where you will find directions and forms to fill out.

Reunion Notices

4th May, 2013 – Nigel High School Grounds

Our school is celebrating its 50th year jubilee this year and will be hosted a huge event to commemorate this special occasion, on the 4th May, 2013 at the school grounds. There will be a parade from the town hall to the school, many stalls and a food court, also plenty entertainment and fun for all. Please diarise that date and come out and support and celebrate together.
Also if any one is interested in helping out on the day please contact Leonor Christie on 0732852414 .

Matric Class of 1982 reunited for their 30th anniversary in November 2010.  For more information, please contact: Leonor Celestino Christie at  You can ring her on 073-285-2414 or 011-814-1782

Greg “Ching” Smith and Elaine (Whelan) Dawson arranged for a reunion at Plattekloof, Cape Town (about 1500 kilometers South of Nigel!) on Saturday June 9th 2012.  Sixteen NHS Old Boys and Girls and two spouses attended the reunion and enjoyed catching up on each other’s lives after the passage of 40 years.  Many were from the Class of 1970 and 1971.  This photo, taken by Charl Roland, recorded the event.  Vivian van der Merwe did not make it in time to be included in this photo.  (Click on the photo for a larger image, please.)

Nigel High School Reunion 2012

Nigel High School Reunion 2012

Class of 1977

Hostel Prefects: 1977

Many of us literally called Nigel High School our home and lived at the Hostel.

Remember “Camy” Jean Cameron (RIP) and her faithful “Pooch”?

Surely “Comics” C. what-were-you-doing-in-the-stands-anyway? F. Combrinck (RIP)?


Axel Braumann (musician and writer) and Jake Ceronio who took the cadet band on to victory in the 1977 Transvaal finals?

What about “Bubbles” Edward Holloway, Keith Scott (you handsome devil), Derek Harrison (my best friend), Shirley Ann Prudden (my first love), Charles Staples, Woolfie Katz (RIP), Kathy Sutcliff, Anthea Robinson (pity we couldn’t have been closer), Leon Beetge, Freddie van der Westhuizen, John Cook (the finest JW have ever known),

imgp3389.jpgRuth Edwards (a darling girlfriend) and Karen “Crunox” Botha.

And Carol Paynter, Ken Paynter (now a Pastor in the Assemblies of God) Clive Alder, David Rogers, Janine Assad, Nedda Titolo , Garth Robertson, Charles Bonner, Brian Gibbon, Phillip Bennett, Lawrence de Villiers, Warren Melville, Keith Daff, Chris Steyn, Val Rosato (RIP), Pat and Stephanie van Kerkhof, Elize Botha, Linda Black, Lee Gillespie, Ana de Pina, Rui de Pina, Joan “Joao” de Pina


Anthony Brooker, Mark Marlour, Guy Mohle (and where are you wonderful friends?), Chris Nearhou, Jonathon

Getting ready for the Matric Farewell — 1976

Alcock, Carol Vincent, Fulvio Tonelli, Mark von Ruben, Sally Edwards, Cheryl Bowen, Theresa Combrinck (Muller), Anna Marie Koetzer, Elizabeth Raftopoulus, Elize Botha, Marietjie Bronkhorst, Linda Beetge, Marlene Botes, Jenny Da Silva, Kim Frey (how I miss you), Gail Mary Semmens (Liss), Alta Mynhardt, Cecil van Heerden, Bokkie Kleynhans, Mickey Slabbert, Patrick Day, Caroline Wyllie, Lucy Mitchell (Olsen), Natilie Timmins (Fuhri) . . .

(OK. Fine. Search engines love this stuff and so should you if you’ve found this page!)


Click here for Nigel High School Song by Axel Braumann

Click here for School song — page 2

This is where we reunite and reconnect from around the world — no matter where we are.

Theresa Muller (Combrinck)

Richard’s Bay, South Africa


School days are long gone, but yet there are times when I remember them so clearly. Where shall I start with my life. Been married for 28 years already.Have 3 beautiful children – Shawn 27, Wendy 25 and Tracy 20, or rather, they will be in the next few months.

I am also an ouma already of 2 beautiful little children, Michael who is 5 already and Tamlyn who is a year old. I am a very young ouma … So I like to think anyway. Can still run around with them, ride bikes with them etc.


We have been in living in Richards Bay for almost 17 years already. Have not been to Nigel for many, many years. My mom who was still there moved down here about 3 years ago, so there has been no reason to go back. I was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom for many years, but then, work called.

Work as a secretary come Jill of all trades for a mining company called Richards Bay Minerals. Hubby also works here. Have been Theresa and Blane meet up after thirty years in Durban, 2007.quite sporty since I have got older.

Have run 5 Comrades (87+k’s) from Maritzburg to Durban. Latest is doing duathlons which is running and cycling and have been privileged to represent South Africa twice already at World Champs overseas. One way of seeing the world! Hoping to go over to Hungary later this year.

I have contact with Keith Scott and have also contacted Charles Staples. He lives in Australia now, Keith is down the road in Durban.”

See Theresa on Facebookhere.

Blane van Pletzen-Rands

Buffalo, New York, USA

It’s the smaller details that are beginning to get fuzzy — almost like my eyesight!

I’ve made homes in Rhodesia, South Africa, Caprivi, England, Hawaii and Utah, and am now in the next chapter in Buffalo, Western New York.

Ruth Edwards and Blane van Pletzen, Cape Town 2007I hold fond memories of my two years at Nigel in 1976 and 1977. I do wish, though, that all our lives had had some continuity. We are scattered to the four winds!

My blog tells more of where I am now although it is painted with broad strokes. Esmé, my twenty-five-year-old daughter from a previous marriage to Lisa Tullis van Pletzen, lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Scott van Pletzen-Rands married in Durban in 2007 while visiting South Africa.  That’s Ruth Edwards in the photo with me at our reunion in Cape Town.  (No, I am not an oupa, yet, but certainly look forward to that experience.) I’m retired as a professor of English and now a Priest in the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Church of England – or Anglican Church. Nigel stands out as a bright light in my life. Axel Braumann remains a defining influence to this day.

So looking forward to finding out where everyone went, what we’re doing, who we have become and what we aspire to become. All are welcome here. Every single one.

See Blane on Facebook here.

Derek Harrison

Kalkbay, South Africa

Derek Harrison

It took a round trip of twenty years for Derek to do what he had planned to do when he left teaching.Having gathered experience in the fields of teacher, salesman, tour guide, guest house manager, and creator and facilitator of a self-modeled children’s “awareness” program and more than enough in the corporate sector, Derek decided at
44 that it was now of never.”Full story here.

See Derek on Facebook here.

Ana de Pina (Wyrsch)
Ana de Pina, Nigel High School class of 1976, in 2008

Ana de Pina, Nigel High School class of 1976, in 2008

I must congratulate you on your “little blog” as you put it, it certainly brings a lot of people together. Well done.

To give you a quick “run down” of my life’s events since I left school in 1976, could make quite an interesting story. ( I’ll leave all the gory details out!! )

I started in the shoes business at the age of 20. I became a shoe buyer at 23 and worked for companies like Dodo’s, A& D Spitz, Cuthberts, and Edgars. At 25 had a bad car accident going to Sun City to see Elton John. Broke both legs and took over a year to recover.

I travelled a lot on business & pleasure. At age 33 got fed up with the situation in S.A. not being safe and decided to leave. Landed up in Portugal (alone) only because my parents are Portuguese and at the time, Portugal was about to join the European Union.

During that first year in Portugal met my husband Werner Wyrsch, a Swiss national who also happened to be in the shoe business and together we built our company Dromedaris International. During the last 15 years we have been working with American shoe brands handling their production, development and quality control.

Ana de Pina and husband Werner Wyrsch in 2008

Ana de Pina and husband Werner Wyrsch in 2008

Last year we launched or own shoe brand “ Dromedaris”  in the US and as we all know, this economic crisis [of 2008] is affecting us all but we will persevere and try to get our brand off the ground. We know the American market very well, so now we just need a lot of patience and financial commitment, which at times is very challenging, to say the least.

You can view our website

I try to get together with my family every 2 years, my brother Rui who also went to Nigel as well as my sisters, Vera & Joan (who now insists on being called JOAO) her real name. The 3 sissies got together 2 months ago Sept 08. Laughed a lot!

I used to have some contact with Corgi Scott (now Smit) but since she went to Australia, I never heard from her again. Natalie Timmens contacted me a short while ago, which was really fantastic. Let’s hope some people come forward and make contact.

Good luck Blane and all the best to you!

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Other NHS links

Visit Kersten Prof’s 1982 Nigel High School memories here.

Nigel High School on Facebook

Nigel High School from space

Tribute to Andrew Madden here.




Visit the Current Nigel High School Website

February 8, 2007 at 11:58 am 296 comments


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