Ken Hannett
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Ken Hannett - Devon on Ashburton, 1968

I was a young Police Cadet with the Liverpool City Force and in 1969 was selected to attend an Outward Bound Course at Ashburton in Devon. It was a large country house and when I joined Carew Patrol it was the first time I had ever been billeted in a room with other lads. They were from various ways of life like myself with Army cadets, engineering apprentices and many others. I began to suspect a conspiracy when I was elected the Patrol Leader meaning it was my job to command the morning leap into the ice cold River Dart before a quick swim across and back to finish with a run to the house for a shower. What a way to wake up each morning, all this activity before breakfast.

Among other things I learnt how to rock climb, pot hole and canoe. Skills in navigating using an OS Map and compass also constructing an overnight shelter with a groundsheet. My memories are of abseiling, learning how to recover a casualty across a large gap between rocks with the sea rushing beneath, the long hike from the North coast across the two Moors back to the School. Being forced through a small space between the cave roof by companions behind followed by a leap from the high road bridge into the River Dart below to clean the mud from our clothes. They are memories you don't ever forget and the cold, wet and blisters are soon forgotten over time.

I met some very good people during that month and learnt a lot about living together as a group. Time has not been kind to my powers of recall and their names are now blurred but I hope they all went on to enjoy their lives and chosen careers. I was fortunate to be interviewed and chosen to go on the British Schools Exploring Society's 1969 Expedition to Newfoundland, Canada, six weeks under canvas exploring and mapping the wild country of that island. I honestly believe the skills acquired at Ashburton benefited me greatly during my time with the Geology Fire.

The photograph I have supplied shows our group, Carew Patrol D81, on the last day of our course. I am in the front row, on the left wearing the striped shirt, the Course Instructor is in the back row on the far left. That is as far as I can remember as it has always been a problem for me to remember peoples names but I'm sure Jim and Stuart will remember our hike across the moors. Perhaps if others see this photograph they will be able to correct my bad memory and fill in the missing pieces.

I have been retired from the Police over nearly 12 years now but I still use those skills to walk the moors of Yorkshire and Derbyshire near where I live, creaking joints permitting, and have very fond memories of those days.
(posted 12/12/2009)