Frank Durning
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Frank Durning - Aberdovey, Wales, 1967

Whilst I was reading my copy of Freemasonry Today, my eyes were drawn to a small article entitled "Calling all Outward Bounders"�. I am very pleased to tell you that I was one of those individuals.
In 1967 as a fresh faced callow youth who, at the time was employed by the Thames Valley Police as a Police Cadet, was sent to your establishment at Aberdovey in North Wales. I did with some trepidation board a train at Reading, changing at Wolverhampton and eventually arriving at a station in North Wales where as fledgling Outward Bounders were met by one of the Instructors called Nick in an old Bedford Army lorry.
We drove the Outward Bound School where I was placed in a hut named "Nelson"�, the other being "Rodney"�, and the others famous Admirals. The Outward Bounders very soon realised that this was not to be a layabout month.
We were rudely awoken at 6am every morning and following a short run were put through a cold shower. Once we had settled in we were all lined up outside our huts in front of a flagpole and a Captain called (I believe) Barker stood aside the flagpole whilst his dog (a Boxer) walked up and down our ranks occasionally cocking his leg on one of us. But I can say honestly that the month I spent there, although I didn't realise it at the time, was to become one of the most formative experiences of my life.
In those days you had an old boatshed and an equally more aged ex-lifeboat that we sailed in, though not very far, I don't think the confidence was really overflowing in the lifeboat but it was a lovely experience. We did canoeing and abseiling (without all the helmets and body armour they wear today) and we also did the highlight of my stay in Aberdovey which was horse riding. The animal I was allocated to was a seasoned campaigner called Jasper, he had a mind of his own but for two days, God bless him, he treated me kindly.
We were sent out on map reading exercises where we had to camp out over night whilst map reading from A to B. We climbed the local mountain called Cadder Idris which I am told is quite high and we also assisted the Forestry Commission in carrying fence posts up into the hills.
We stayed one evening at a site called The Log Cabin outside of which was the most beautiful lake, it was the bluest water I have ever seen but my goodness me it was the coldest. Back at the centre we were invited to try what they called the 'drown proofing test', this meant jumping into a swimming pool and keeping yourself afloat for six hours without touching the sides of the pool. I managed to complete this test and my efforts were rewarded with a Seal Club tie. I still have my tie and my most treasured badge awarded to me, the motto on the back which the young people of today would do well to look at, it says "to Serve, to Strive and not to Yield"�.
I left the Outward Bound School and embarked on a career in the Police Service which culminated in my retirement 32 years later. I have never forgotten the Outward Bound experience, although not completely enjoyable at the time I can honestly say I look back on it with not a little fondness and thankfulness.