Last year, Trefoil member Sarah Lansdown met former Trefoil pupil Tony Cascarino and learnt about the impact that Trefoil School had on Tony throughout his life.
Tony attended Trefoil School from 1946 to 1952. At the time Trefoil School was based in Polkemmet House, Whitburn. Tony has fond memories of his time at Trefoil School. However, like many first time boarders, he recalls being quite unhappy during the first few weeks of school away from home. Tony arrived at the school during, what he describes as, the horrendous winter of 1946. He travelled by taxi from his home in Valleyfield and on his first day he got stranded on the A8 near Whitburn. A passing couple stopped and gave him a lift to the school.
There were only 35 pupils at the school, but they came from all over Scotland. Pupil’s came from Orkney, Brora, Aberdeen, Perth, Cowdenbeath, Dundee, Blairhall, Bo’ness, Dumfries, Glasgow and Dunfermline. The school was staffed entirely by females, they were all senior guiders from Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.
Each day the pupils had their tea around five o’clock. They would take turns to wash the dishes and tidy up afterwards. After tea the pupils had the evening to themselves and Tony remembers enjoying over 160 acres of woodland and parkland to roam around in. Except, on a Tuesday and Thursday evening, when the pupils completed an hour of prep. Before bed the pupils would gather in the main hall to say prayers and enjoy a cup of cocoa.
At the weekends after lunch they had to rest in bed for an hour or so to relax and wind down. Tony would often sneak away out of the rear of the school, on Saturday afternoons, to watch Polkemmet Juniors football team play at Harthill. This was no easy feat, as crossing the A8 was quite a challenge in those days.
Twice a year the pupils put on a play in the main hall. At Christmas, nativity plays were performed and in May/June the pupils focussed on the history of Scotland. In the summer the pupils returned home for six or seven weeks. When the pupils reached the age of 16, they had to leave Trefoil School.
Tony left Trefoil School in 1951 and worked for a short spell as a gardener, before moving back home to Valleyfield. In 1955, Tony began work at Valleyfield Colliery and remained working there until 1992. Tony then began work as a union shop steward for the N.U.P.E. During his time as a union shop steward he led many successful campaigns eventually becoming vice president of the Scottish Unison disabled members committee, until his retirement in 1998.
Tony pursued his love of football after leaving school and in 1955 he founded an under 18 football club called Pitcorthie Thistle. Tony then went on to manage the Valleyfield Sunday League in the 1960s. He also assisted the Townhill Amateur FC who played in the Kirkcaldy & District Amateur Saturday League. In 1975, Tony founded the Pitcorthie Thistle Amateur FC and joined the same Kirkcaldy & District Saturday League. Tony has been treasurer to Halbeath Juniors, Steelend Victoria Juniors and Rosyth Recreation Juniors. His long standing commitment to local football can be seen through his many voluntary positions.
As well as football, Tony has been involved with several local bowling clubs. He was treasurer of Abbeyview BC in 1967, as well as a member of West End BC, Netherton BC and Townhill Welsh Touring Club. As bowling grew in popularity, Tony regularly visited the indoor complex in Alloa and even donated a trophy to the under 16’s youth league. He named the cup, the Trefoil Trophy, in honour of Trefoil School.
Over the years Tony has kept many articles and photographs relating to Trefoil School. Tony attributes the support he was given at the school to many of his successes.
Trefoil would like to thank Tony for giving up his time to share his memories of Trefoil School and the positive impact that the school had on his life. Trefoil is immensely proud that it can continue to support children and young people today, through awarding grants to over 100 beneficiaries a year.