INTO THE ARCHIVES: Princess Anne flies in via helicopter and Stalin’s granddaughter returns to Saffron Walden school

Princess Anne made an unscheduled stop at Henham Primary School as her helicopter landed in the sch

Princess Anne made an unscheduled stop at Henham Primary School as her helicopter landed in the school grounds. She was opening Orford House - Credit: Archant

The Reporter is once again turning back the clock 30 years to April 1986 and delving into our archives.

The national headlines were made up of the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, the kidnapping of journalist John McCarthy, and the opening of the new MetroCentre shopping precinct in Gateshead.

Closer to home in Saffron Walden, news was of a royal visit, the town’s first-ever twinning celebration, and the return of a famous granddaughter. Around 200 German visitors arrived in Saffron Walden from Bad Wildungen on Friday, April 4, 1986, for the town’s first-ever twinning celebration. Mayor Daphne Cornell proclaimed the weekend of friendship events as a “tremendous success” and many of the German guests stayed with residents in the town.

Gifts were exchanged, music was provided by the Bad Wildungen Fire Brigade Band, and the Saffron Walden Morris Men put on a performance for all who braved the unseasonably cold weather to enjoy the festivities.

Princess Anne’s helicopter landed at Henham Primary School on April 15, 1986, and the royal visitor stopped to receive flowers and talk to pupils.

Princess Anne was visiting the area to officially open Orford House, in Ugley, which had been given an extensive £1.25million conversion in order to house people with learning disabilities.

Princess Anne met with staff, toured the building and grounds, and chatted to residents and their parents at the grade II listed house, which is still going strong today.

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The granddaughter of Joseph Stalin, Olga Peters, arrived back in Saffron Walden, after an 18-month hiatus in Russia, to continue her studies at Friends’ School.

The American-born 14-year-old, who had been whisked away by her mother Svetlana in the autumn of 1984, arrived to a barrage of press on April 16, 1986.

She said that although she had not been unhappy in Russia, she had found the language difficult and had missed her classmates at the Mount Pleasant Road school.

Olga, who is now 44 and goes by the name Chrese Evans, runs an antique shop in Portland, Oregon, USA. Her mother Svetlana died five years ago, aged 85.