John Robinson
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John Robinson - Aberdovey, Wales, 1960

Throughout my schooldays I was afflicted by a persistent stammer, perhaps instigated by my Father's insistence that I should use my right hand in preference to my left as was my natural inclination. I well remember, when called upon to read aloud in class, feeling the perspiration running freely down my back as I struggled to pronounce what was on the page in front of me.My impediment made me dread social situations.

On Boxing Day 1960 I joined the Outward Bound Sea School at Aberdovey for a 4-week course. The instructors rapidly assessed our capabilities as they got to know us, and helped us to recognise and confront our individual shortcomings.I never conquered the "death slide" on the elevated rope circuit, but as my physical and mental fitness improved during the course, I was able to take the 52-mile cross country hike (departing from Aberdovey at 4am on a cold January morning) in my stride.

OBSS taught me to stretch myself to the full extent of my capabilities, to persevere in adverse conditions and to lead by example.The experience at Aberdovey boosted my self-confidence such that I left my stammer behind.Within a year I had volunteered for the Royal Naval Reserve, from which I eventually retired as Lieutenant Commander. The "can do" attitude which I absorbed at Aberdovey 53 years ago has enriched my personal and professional life, and made me a better citizen.