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Kim Paul (nee Taylor) - Aberdovey, Wales, 1978
My brother Nick had recently completed a four week course in Ullswater at aged 16 and my turn came when one of my school teachers told me they were looking to send two pupils from my school Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire. My dad was also a teacher at the school and as they could find no other takers in the whole school my name found itself on the list before I had time to think about it. My dad drove myself and the other "willing volunteer" a girl called Jackie Webb (whom I didn't know) to Aberdovey. I was just 14 years old and Jackie a year older. It was a pretty daunting thought being away for three weeks with no-one I knew but turned out to be one of the very best experiences of my life. My instructor was Malcolm Owen and I was placed in "Drake". So many, many memorable experiences but to condense it, making some great friends from all over the UK, becoming a real team, helping and looking out for each other, doing things you never thought you were capable of doing and really learning and growing as a person. Expedition walking with very badly blistered feet, the extreme cold (it was November and December), jumping off Aberdovery pier on 1st December (it was too cold to breathe coming up), rock-climbing, abseiling down the slate mines, staying in the log cabin and waking up to a foot of snow, building an overnight bivvy in the forest near the log cabin eating our daily flapjack and beans from the tin and returning to our tents after a long day's hike to find that the farmer's dogs had been in to our tents and eaten all our food. There are many more memories and at times it was tough and I was cold, hungry and tired but I took so much away from this experience that I wouldn't change a thing. I felt that I gave my best and in return it gave me so much more self confidence and I remember coming away feeling on top of the world and that anything was possible. Outward Bound gave me so much and I now have this opportunity to say "thank you". I've worked in Local Government for the last 11 years and most importantly, raised a beautiful and well rounded 16 year old daughter who respects others and is confident and has a zest for life. Whilst her achievements are her own, it would be nice to think that a bit of that Outward Bound confidence that helped to make who I am, has stayed with me to help her believe in herself too.