Richard Watchus
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Richard Watchus - Devon on Ashburton, 1965

My Outward Bound experiences have never left me, even though they were long ago. After a lifetime of differing occurrences in the UK Police Force, I remain firm in the opinion that that single month taught me a life time of skills.

I went into the course quite fit, or so I thought, an enthusiastic cross country runner and rugby player. I had many experiences, some very personal and others to do with the team. My main memory is of the three day hike that took my team across Exmoor and Dartmoor in January, very cold and very bleak. Although I felt good in myself, some of my fellow members were suffering very badly from the cold and exhaustion. It began to snow very hard and one collapsed and said he could go no further. Remembering the rules of the task, about lifts and the like and remembering very strongly how much I wanted to earn my badge, I was in what you might call a cleft stick. No mobile phones in those days. Things were not getting any better and snow was falling more severely than before and night was upon us. I decided that if a vehicle came along, we would take a lift to shelter. Luckily, a van came along and we were rescued, if that is the correct term, to Dartmoor Prison. We were there given shelter for the night and we left the next morning. We knew we had broken the rules but thought it necessary to conserve life. The rest of the hike went to plan.

On the final interview with the Commandant, I was torn as to whether to declare my 'sins' or not and take my badge, which meant so much to me and my father. I was really struggling with myself, having to swear that I had kept all the rules and the Commandant could see that. In the end I had to tell the truth and declare that, for the good of certain members of the group, we had to take the lift. The outcome was that I was reprimanded for the course of action but eventually was given my badge.

After thirty years in the Police and having many times appeared in various courts, including the Old Bailey and pothers around the country, I can honestly say that I never told an untruth and I feel that it was that early experience that taught me that the truth is always the very best.

I know that the badge seems very insignificant nowadays but you have to remember that then, times were very different and in that environment, it was the ultimate accolade. In my heart I still thank Outward Bound for the experiences it gave me, which have lasted a life time. I still have my personal log and a picture of the course and staff.