Andy Chapman
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Andy Chapman - Aberdovey, Wales, 1961

I have many fond?! memories of my time at Aberdovey during a very cold February in the early sixties. I suspect things may be different today, but then the instructors were all ex Merchant Navy & Army officers & this being only 15 years since the end of the war, they took few prisoners!

The early morning routine - at about 0600, consisted of press-ups in 2 feet of snow wearing only shorts & plimsolls..This "privilege" was granted to us only because the River Dovey, into which we would normally be expected to plunge, was frozen over.

Our canoeing expedition,which took place at the end of the course when the ice had broken up, was something like a 25 mile paddle down the Dovey to the river estuary where all the canoes,including the instructor's,
(Phil Kemp), filled up & sank in half a gale.

We all swam for the shore but were told to turn back & dive for our canoes. We surfaced holding the painters, swam our canoes ashore, upturned & drained them.

Phil Kemp went ashore to find a phone box & an hour later a truck turned up, into which we loaded our canoes & climbed in after them only to be told to get out because we were walking back!

Our final expedition, during which we had to climb 5 or 6 peaks, including Tarran Hendre, was made in driving rain & mist. Our team was the only one to climb all the peaks & complete the expedition. Our reward was to be the last team back & find all the food eaten & all the hot water for the showers used so we went to bed dirty,cold & flaming starving!

If I appear to be complaining, the opposite is true. I had a wonderful & memorable time

Perhaps my best memory is of a bloke called Dennis, a young Staffordshire coal-miner, sent to Aberdovey from Lincoln Borstal .He & I were fiercely competitive at first but then became the best of pals. When the course ended, he to return to the Borstal ,me to go to sea, we took the same train to Derby where he split a �10 note with me, (this having been given to him by the head of the Borstal). This was a hugely generous gesture on his part when you consider that this was a full month's wages during my first year at sea & I like to think that this gesture was triggered, at least in part, by our shared experiences at Aberdovey.

With very best wishes - Captain Andy Chapman