Ceredig Davies-Walters
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Ceredig Davies-Walters - Eskdale, The Lake District, 1952

You quite rightly state that the Ouward Bound courses develop inner courage, confidence and self esteem. I believe that in my case it did all that, but it also did something else, it taught me tolerance.
Let me explain.
Between 1949 and 1954 I was serving an Apprenticeship with Imperial Chemical Industries in Swansea, South Wales. In 1950 they announced a competition for one place at the Aberdovey Outward Bound School. I applied for the position, which involved being interviewed by a panel of outdoor pursuits people in Birmingham. I was not successful in my application. In 1951 they announced that there was a single place available in Eskdale. I did not bother to apply but a very good friend and hill walking companion did. He was successful and duly went to Eskdale in the summer of 1951. Within 10 days he was back in work, the physical tests they carried out in the school revealed that he was in the early stages of Diabetes. Realizing that there was room left on the course I approached the Personnel Department at work and asked if I paid my own way up to Eskdale could I take over the remaining part of the course. I was told that this was not possible and therfore dismissed the matter. Imagine my surprise when later in 1951 I was called to see the Director of Personnel and was told that they were impressed by my enthusiasm and had enrolled me onto course number 20 at the Outward Bound School in Eskdale. I was overjoyed.
At the school we were graded on every activity in which we engaged, athletics, kayaking, marathon running, hillwalking and rock climbing. The grades were Normal (a Red badge), Silver (a Blue Badge) and Gold (a Gold Badge).They normally only presented one Gold badge per course and about 3 or 4 Slver Badges. I became obvious fairly early on who was going to win the Gold, a very capable and all-round athlete from a Public school. So my sights were set on getting a Silver. To this end I achieved Gold marks in almost everything and Silver in the remainder. So I was hopeful of gaining he Silver badge. I did not, I was awarded a Normal badge which was very dissapointing. However I was called in after the award ceremony to see the Director and was told that I had narrowly missed a Silver because I had failed the Expedition part of the course. This was a catch-all phrase to cover one's general attitude. It appeared that I had been too competetive and was un-sympathetic towards other people who could not keep up with the physical demands of the course. I did not disagree with this verdict because in general I did not tolerate people who were incapable of keeping up with the physical demands of the course, because I felt that if they were not fit enough they should not be there. That was a mistake on my part because I thought that everyone was like me and wanted to be there. Many were sent there by their companies, reluctantly it appeared in many cases. The fact that I did not get my Silver badge made me re-appraise my whole attitude towards other members of any group in which I was involved. I believe I applied this new outlook when I was asked to join a small group of ex-outward bound pupils in an expedition (a somewhat grandiose term for the trip) to the Pyrenees in August 1952. This was arranged by Richard Marsh, a Himalayan climber and one of the Instructors at Eskdale. I therefore became more tolerant of people who were not as fit as I was. This stood me in good stead when in later years I was requested to take several parties of managers to North Wales to assess whether or not the Executive Fitness Programme they had undertaken had resulted in an improved level of fitness.