Jack Pennington
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Jack Pennington - Ullswater, The Lake District, 1956

It was a fairly normal winters' day in the mining and cotton factory town of Atherton nr Manchester, I was a 14 year old boy attending a church of England secondary modern school I found school OK but in some subjects I was not doing to good and in these days not doing to good invariably meant a big SEE ME in red in my exercise book which was some kind of code for the dreaded cane.

It was just before lunch that I was summoned to see the headmaster absolute horror struck; I had never been to the headmasters study and all I could think of was how many strokes of the cane I was going to get, I knocked on his door very quietly hoping that he would not hear and I could go back to the relative safety of my classroom, but to my dismay he bellowed for me to enter.

I was told to sit down and there followed my headmaster telling me that I had been selected from the whole school to attend an outward bound school at Ullswater and that I was to take a letter home which would explain to my parents what it entailed and that I was being funded so they had no worry of finding whatever it cost, and that the school wanted a reply next day. I do not remember at any time being asked what I thought and to be honest I was not all that interested as Atherton was my home and I did not go too far beyond its boundaries, and anyhow where was this Ullswater? It meant nothing to me (but I was soon to find out just what an exciting place it was) I duly took the letter back and was given the dates of the course which were in February 1956 I was given a list of clothing I was to take and I believe a travel permit and in no time at all I was about to get on a train and go to a place called Penrith where I would be met.

My old mum came as far as Bolton with me then put me on the right train and a few hours later I was in Penrith and being loaded onto a Landrover and then whisked off to Hallstead's on Ullswater where along with I don't know how many boys (About 70+ I would guess) were then put into the dining hall split into patrols (I was number 5 patrol) told and met our adult patrol leader, and then showed our dormitory, how strange this was I had never travelled on a train so far never been away from home on my own , never slept in a bunk bed and was trying to see the faces of the other boys in my patrol , and I guess they were all having the same adventure, and I soon made friends with all the boys I was good at making friends , although I do not know where I got this talent from, but after a meal a talk of what life was about and a cup of cocoa we were all packed off to bed , and after a long day I was ready for my bed.

The next 26 days were the fullest I have ever had with early morning PE sometimes a dip in the lake , or a cold shower then training in canoeing, rock climbing, knots, hiking. exercises, abseiling., Athletics, and patrol exercises, plus lectures in the evening and a night callout to a climber who had fallen and was stranded this was great, but after hiking and climbing then getting this climber onto a stretcher and taking him to the Landrover then to be told he was staff and not really hurt, but it was a good training exercise, very soon the end of course exercise was upon us then followed the award ceremonies and in no time at all I was back home.

I left school in 1956 and after the experience I had been through I asked my parents if I could join the army as a junior Leader, my parents agreed and I joined the army in June 1957 I just relished everything the army threw at us, the outward bound course had planted In me discipline respect and how to look after myself I was very soon promoted and rapidly went through the ranks and became my troop junior sergeant in June 1958 and at xmas 1958 I became junior Battery Sergeant Major I had passed all my military exams and had passed the army certificate of education first class which would enable me to become if promoted a warrant officer. My last term time was in January to April 1959 when I mustered into the regular army and I joined my regiment in September 1959, due to my successful junior army career I was soon on a NCO,s cadre course and was soon promoted to L/bombardier (1 stripe) my second stripe followed then my sergeants stripes followed so that by 1963 I was now a sergeant commanding my own section, I served in Germany until 1965 then we were off on active service to Aden on a 2 year tour, it was at the end of this tour I was promoted to Warrant office second class. I went on to serve in Northern Island and Canada then back to Germany then at the end of 1974 I resigned.

My Outward Bound experience as a young 14 year old taught me leadership, discipline and respect, everything which I put to good use as a soldier, it had been a long journey since that winters night in 1956 where a frightened little boy had in 26 days became a man, the course is still fresh in my mind even though I am now nearly 69 and am disabled; I would have loved to have come on a reunion weekend but alas names have now faded and the photo we had took has long been lost but I thank Outward Bound for making me a man and enabling me to have had a wonderful career first as a soldier then a policeman in the Metropolitan police .

Long may the trust carry on and power to your elbows in all you do