Robert Jones
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Robert Jones - Aberdovey, Wales, 1964

I've been back to Aberdovey today during a valedictory tour of the UK from Australia where I live in a small South Australian town which itself used to be the home of an Outward Bound School - Clayton.
I attended course 242 in August 1964. I was a tall, skinny, insecure youth of 17 and this experience changed my life. The two day cutter trip on Cardigan Bay presented challenges to a novice sailor, and the 5 day hike through the Reinogs added several others. I learned to sail small boats (Gwen 12s) here, a passion which I have retained all my life. I still sail a sixteen foot Hartley at Clayton. Drown-proofing skills learned during my course have preserved me more than once!
However, it was the climb and subsequet abseil on Bird Rock near Towyn which proved my to be my road to Damascus. I wasn't afraid of heights but that abseil terrrified me. Eventually, with the kind and gentle support of my instructor, I leaned back and took the first dreadful steps down that rock face...
The intrinsic resources which this one act gave me have served me for the rest of my life. I was a coal miner in training when I first attended Aberdovey and I retired five years ago as a principal of a South Australian Primary School. Again and again, I have drawn on those intrinsic resources and I hope that in my teaching career, I have assisted others to identify and draw on their own.
A lot has changed physically at Aberdify today but I'm confident, as a result of the brief interaction I had with staff there today, that that intrinsic spirit encompassed in the Outward Bound Motto prevails;-
"To Serve, To Strive And Not To Yield"
(Pic: I sometimes present a collection of Durham Mining songs at Folk Concerts-another example of the confidence gained at OBSS)
Posted: 14/06/2011