When they were first brought together the internet was decades away and the children played peever in the street.

Now in a remarkable reunion of 300 former 1950s Aberdeen classmates who completed one of the widest ability tests undertaken by almost all the city's primary pupils are to get back together again.

It is the first time they have regrouped since they took part in the study over half a century ago and it is expected to be an emotional day for people like Bill Harkes, who was a pupil at Westerton Primary School in Northfield when he completed the tests in 1962.

Mr Harkes, 62, said: "It will be interesting to see if I recognise any old faces that I went to primary school with.

"As children, we obviously had no idea of the scale and eventual relevance the studies would have.

"We would have just completed them as part of our day-to-day work."


Mr Harkes, who has worked the social work and care sectors in the city most of his life, said: “It’s only in recent years I’ve realised the scale of the project, and I realised I was really quite privileged to be involved with it.

"I’ve seen the amount of international researchers that have requested access to our information and I realised that, unbeknownst to me, I’ve been chosen to contribute to this body of knowledge that has implications on such a wide range of health and societal issues.”

The Aberdeen Children of the 1950s study began in 1962 when researchers from Aberdeen University surveyed 15,000 7-12 year olds across the city, originally to attempt to discover the causes of learning disabilities.

The researchers identified important factors that made children more vulnerable to learning difficulties including being born very prematurely, which is information that continues to inform the care of babies today.

Dr Jessica Butler, a chronic disease researcher at the university and organiser of the event, said the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s study is "special and valuable".


She said: "It’s unusual because it includes not a sample of people, but almost every child in the city.

"It measures not just health, but combines health data with education, social, and demographic information.

“This means the study can be used to answer many types of questions like: what are the important influences in childhood that are linked to adult health? For those that had a difficult start in life, what helped them succeed later on? What things in family, school and community life influence our wellbeing?”

In 2000 around two thirds took part in a postal questionnaire about their lives, and at the same time their recent health records were also linked into the study.

The combined research has been used by researchers in Australia, New Zealand, United States, UK and Sweden in over 40 studies, and several studies have shown the variety of ways poverty can impact on a person’s life and health.


Other studies have looked into causes of heart disease and diabetes, and the importance of health during pregnancy and early life on our wellbeing in adulthood.

The goal of the new project being held at the Old Aberdeen campus is to discover how members, who are now between 60 and 65 years old, have been able to adapt after times of adversity.