Allan Coleman
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Allan Coleman - Ullswater, The Lake District, 1960

There is no doubt, as far as I am concerned, that the experience with Outward Bound will stay with me for the rest of my life. There is also no doubt that had I not have been a City of London Police cadet the opportunity would not have come my way in the first place, it was all part of the force's attempt to change boys into men. Whether that worked I don't know but on a personal level I would not have missed it for the world.

In common with lots of students I looked on the course with some trepidation as all sorts of rumours abounded, real hair curling stuff. On arrival at Keswick railway station we were met by an instructor of military voice and bearing who shouted us into various Land Rovers and drove off at a suicidal speed taking corners with a technique a rally driver would have applauded. As passengers in the back we were left to pull "God help us"� faces at each other and to wonder what we had done to be posted here. Joining the Foreign Legion must have felt roughly the same.

It was interesting to meet my fellow students who came from very different backgrounds; apprentice boilermakers, plumbers, carpenters and an awful lot of police cadets. I doubt such a mix would come together now and it is in a way a reflection on the values of our country, what I mean is that I think very few organisations would find the expense of turning youths into men worthwhile. I am in no doubt that the course did instil in me a sense of achievement and more importantly confidence in my own ability to confront situations and overcome them, of vital importance in my police career.

I retired in 1993 with the rank of Chief Inspector, something that was the stuff of dreams during a three day solitary 'tod' expedition over the fells. I looked forward to the promise of canoeing but due to a severe drought my worst fears were realised, rock climbing was the substitute! I was not afraid of heights having been sent up to the house roof for repairs and inspections by my father who was a professional fireman. He was naturally very familiar with ladders and I think he saw my ascents as some sort of rite of passage, but it did give me a very well developed sense of self preservation and the need to climb large lumps of rock for pleasure was not on my hobby list. But yes, I did it and in splendid style once I had got used to the feeling that you only "got dead"� once. I remember on one occasion I got stuck in a cleft in the rock which required the climber to stick an arm in the crack, twist it, and rely on the friction to take the body's weight, not a happy prospect. The instructor, whom I recall was a national climbing champion, told me that if I could not do it I would stay there and starve because everyone else was going back to Ullswater for dinner. In common with every other student I was always starving despite consuming vast amounts of food. Starvation sent me up that rock face like a mountain goat to my immense private satisfaction.

Circuit training and jumping naked into a freezing cold Ullswater every morning is also part of the memory and definitely something I would not wish to repeat no matter how "character building."�

There are so many memories. The fellow student who could not keep up because of his weight was seen as a liability in the competitive atmosphere; my colleagues and I could have and should have forgotten the league table and done more to help. I don't know his name but I have never forgotten him.

I have never lost my love of the Lake District and have walked over a lot of it with my equally enthusiastic wife, but the visit in 2009 was my last.

The experience of Outward Bound is unforgettable and I have no doubt that whatever I am the adventure played a major part in moulding me to it.

Allan Coleman

(Note: Allan kindly posted us his story and we have published it on the Generations website with his permission.)