The day pop legend Olivia came to Sheffield

Olivia Newton-John at High Storrs School, 1973.
Olivia Newton-John at High Storrs School, 1973.
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It was the day a top pop star came to open a Sheffield school’s annual summer fete.

But photos and details of Olivia Newton-John’s visit to High Storrs School on a sunny July day in 1973 were thought to be lost forever – until now.

An appeal in The Star helped bring forward a torrent of memories and memorabilia, including the most crucial evidence of all – the original pictures taken by a Sheffield Newspapers photographer.

The school launched its quest after memories were jogged by news that the school’s summer production at The Crucible would be the ultimate high school musical, Grease.

The blockbuster movie which made Olivia a superstar was still five years away when Olivia came to High Storrs – at the time she was starring in a week-long engagement at the Club Fiesta. But after hits like If Not For You and Banks of the Ohio, plus regular appearances on Cliff Richard’s TV show, she was still a big name.

Abi Merritt, who has helped with the research, said High Storrs at the time had a reputation for extravagant summer fetes.

“Olivia appeared to a massive crowd of giddy teenagers. She then said a few words and the fete was open,” she said.

“In the end she stayed at the fete for much longer than the agreed one hour. She even judged the fancy dress competition.”

With no current teachers working at High Storrs 40 years ago, it was ex-students and staff who came forward to fill in the gaps.

Former pupil Julian Bell, now Labour leader of Ealing Council, said the event created a real buzz.

“She looked so glamorous. But I do remember thinking what a lot of makeup she was wearing!”

Another old boy Keith Clements remembered helping to collect Olivia with a teacher and even got to carry her luggage.

Retired teacher David Tuck proved to be the key man – he was involved in planning the day and had kept a poster, programme, a letter from the recording company and the all important photos.

He said: “At that time, Miss Newton-John had had four singles in the top 20. A letter and a phone call later, and the school were thrilled with her recording company agreeing to their request.”

Grease-mania has taken over the school’s performing arts department in the past couple of months, with auditions for the show attracting more than 200 students.

Fifty made the final cast, including 18-year-olds Sam Henderson as Danny and Alex Jones as Sandy, Olivia’s old role. The show will take place on Friday, July 4.