REDCOAT RANDOM REMARKS
4 November 2012
This next entry wasn't sent in by a former Redcoat, but it does contain the spirit of nostalgia we promote, and similar letters from any other staff members will be more than welcomed.
Well where do I start? Firstly, I must say how glad I was when I came across this Redcoats Reunited website. It as already given me hours of pleasure - having spent many years as a child going to Butlins Skegness on family holidays every year from the 60s to the 80s
As a child I have great memories of our holidays there, & seeing the camp photo's again, as it was then, brings them all back.The journey from Leicester by train; getting to the Boston Straight; watching all the fishermen on the banks & knowing we were nearly there; getting on the bus to the camp at the station & seeing the camp in the distance as we got closer to our destination.
I have many memories & stories to tell but I will save them for another day .
Just to say that I enjoyed my time there so much that I ended up working there. I did 3 seasons in 77-78-79, working on the Long Bar by the reception ( again such great memories )
I look forward to hearing from you. If you have any photo's of this bar, or staff, I would be very grateful.
Yours Faithfully, Gerry Cammack (1 November 2012)
Hello "A.J" - Ron Stanway here.
I've read your remarks and agree wholeheartedly about the sound levels in the various venues. [See 5th April entry below!] "Bloody ridiculous" was the comment I heard over and over again. I also agree with the comments re the food in the main Dining Rooms and the cleanliness of the site both of which deserve full credit. [See 8th September 2010 entry below!]
Bearing in mind our visit was before the schools broke for Easter, obviously most of the children on site were under 5yrs, and they only appeared to go to bed when their parents did. It was usual for parents with prams/pushchairs and their lively occupants to be seen around the Sky Pavilion and cabaret venues up to 11.00pm each night; and the noise level, encouraged by the Redcoats, in addition to the over-amplification, was unbelievable. At entry to each venue we were confronted with a wall of noise from 7.00pm onwards.
At the special 75th Anniversary stand, set-up by the Butlin Archivist, Roger Billington, I had great pleasure meeting up with many old campers and reminising about the old days. Roger was able to increase his collection of badges etc by doing swaps with those who gathered round his tables.
Sadly, the area allocated to Roger was right alongside the main stage in the 'Reds' cabaret room, and the volume of the stage show made it difficult to speak or hear these old campers -- many of whom were adorned with badges, jockey caps in the inter-house colours, or other souvenirs.
I know that the modern Butlin's holiday is geared up to the children, but there must be some adults on their own and, looking through the Entertainment Programme, I found the daytime activities listed for adults on most days numbered just FOUR:- 11am Sequence Dancing; 12pm Karaoke followed by a Sports Quiz; and 2pm Bingo. So what are guests who haven't brought any children supposed to do??
Ron Stanway (36 years with Butlins Entertainment Department)
5th April 2011
With Butlins releasing very little advance information about the 75th Party "Celebrations" it was only a handful of former Butlins Entertainment staff who took up the invite. Had Butlins approached it on a bigger scale, and with a little more enthusiasm, instead of just a nod of acknowledgement, I feel sure many more would have been motivated to attend.
Those who did show up were able to reminisce with Roger Billington, who put in considerable work in selecting, transporting, setting up, and manning a Butlins Memorabilia Display. Roger is the "Keeper of the Archives" at the Butlins Bognor Regis resort, and persuaded another Bognor resident, former fellow Butlins Ents. Mangager and Executive Ron Stanway, to accompany him. He couldn't have made a better choice.
An odd few competitions from 'the old days' were staged, just to give a flavour. These were 'The Knobbly Knees' competition, the 'Glamorous Grandmother, and 'Mr. & Mrs.' Personally, I never did like the 'Knobbly Knees', which is just ritual humiliation. A far more fitting and dignified tribute would have been to stage the "Holiday Princess" competition. But then .....
Two good cabaret acts were booked. First was Alvin Stardust - whom I first saw live in 1976 - that's THIRTY FIVE years ago. Alvin was even performing well before that, as Shane Fenton. And for anyone who may think his performance is probably a little wobbly, you ought to know that he has just won the prestigious "Stage Act of the Year Award" presented by "Encore" magazine. Another act who has been around for a few decades, without becoming old hat, is Bobby Davro - who remains as one of our best-ever impressionist, and a funny man in his own right.
One constant that is still spoiling what would otherwise be good entertainment, is the VOLUME of the P.A. system. Why the heck do they feel the need to turn up the volume so damned high?? There's a gag in the cult rockumentary film "Spinal Tap" in which one member of the rock band brags about their amplifier being turned up to No.11. Well Butlins can beat that - theirs goes up to 20. How people can sit in CentreStage, or Reds for a few hours a night I can't comprehend. It's impossible to even talk to the person next to you. And why 2,000 audience members have to suffer the dance music being played for just a handful of people on the dance floor, I again fail to comprehend. Surely they could have just the speakers around the dancefloor switched on and then, when it's Showtime, switch on the rest of the speakers. It's hardly rocket science. If you agree, let us know. I'll pass on your comments.
Volume apart, our little gang of Redcoats Reunited had a good time, and I know will be back at Butlins soon. Some are already at the Skegness celebrations this week, while others are booked in to Bognor for the 5-8 August. More soon!
28 March 2011
BUTLINS 75th BIRTHDAY BREAKS
The BUTLINS MINEHEAD 4-day themed break starts today.
"Redcoats Reunited" have a possee of teammates down there, and good to hear that Roger Billington and Ron Stanway are running the Butlins Memorabilia Exhibition. Roger and Ron are two Butlins' legends, with true 'Red' blood in them, and are the ideal men to pass on the history of Butlins.
Hope everyone has a great time and meets lots of friends - old and new.
26 March 2011
Anyone going to BUTLINS BOGNOR over the weekend
Click on the link above, then click on "LOCATION" for a map, and you will see that it is just a short walk from Butlins.
It is open on the Saturday and the Sunday from 11am till 5pm.
BUTLINS 75th BIRTHDAY BREAKS
Good to see that Butlins are actually giving a
nod to 2011 being the
Each of the three existing Butlins resorts have dedicated a mini-break to the Butlins 75th Anniversary, which are as follows.
7th March 2011 - BUTLINS BOGNOR
28th March 2011 - BUTLINS MINEHEAD
4th April 2011 - BUTLINS SKEGNESS
You can check out details yourself, or book by following this link:
We have friends of
www.redcoatsreunited.com going to the Minehead one, on 28th March 2011.
08 September 2020
BUTLINS MINEHEAD - BEEN THERE - DONE THAT!!
Got to Minehead Friday 3rd September in time for the 4 o'clock check-in, thanks to my new mate David Mooren (ex-Butlins Stage Manager) picking me up. Some bright spark told me to get the train to Bridgwater, from which there are buses to NOWHERE. Should have gone to specsa... er ... Taunton.
Good to see "meeters and greeters" everywhere when we drove on site - 3 Redcoats at the barrier, 2 more at Reception, and helpers in yellow-tops all around the car park, and pathways to the accomodation.
Saturday morning, I chanced my arm and rang up my former Ents. Manager Alan Ridgway, to invite him out for a drink. The reason it was 'chancey' is that I haven't seen him since 1974, and nor has he answered any of my previous emails. Imagine my surprise and delight therefore when he immediately accepted my invite, and duly arrived at a bar in Minehead town at 7 sharp.
It was a very emotional meeting, for me anyway, as my 1973 and 74 seasons at Skegness, under Mr Ridgway, had been the happiest time of my life. Note how I still refer to him as "Mr. Ridgway" and he still refers to me as "Who the hell are you?"
Thanks Alan .. er .. Mr Ridgway. And a massive "THANK YOU" on behalf of the hundreds of other Redcoats, who had the greatest time of their lives at Butlins, with you as their Ents. Manager.
It was also good to meet up with other former Redcoats from my era: the ever-present Kennie Jones, who manages to work the three Butlins resorts - AT THE SAME TIME!! and Billy Farrell and Paul Beck who still work in the Ents. Department, and are part of the Redcoat Training Scheme. There were also 20-30 ex-Minehead Ents. Staff and Redcoats enjoying a Reunion at the York Hotel, whose custom was particularly appreciated by the person counting the bar takings at the end of the night!!
Summary in General:
The Butlins Minehead resort is SPOTLESS. For those stuck in the seventies, there are still some of the old venues to spot, plus part of the boating lake is still there, as is the former water skiing lake, behind the Highwayman pub.
All the staff were extremely friendly. The facilities are very good; the funfair is still FREE and has some excellent rides, including the Dodgems, which makes one believe that at least one of Sir Billy's legacies to the guests has been retained. The landscaping, plants, trees and shrubs around the resort is also a very attractive bonus, to which Sir Billy would again give the thumbs up.
We ate in the Ocean Drive Food Court, where the food was quite good, with no queuing and excellent attention from the supervisors, who kept the tables free of dirty cups, and plates, at all times.
The Skyline Pavilion is far superior to the one at Bognor, and you can actually sit on a chair and watch a show, rather than standing on one, or hanging off a lamppost. The volume in all the venues was better controlled than at Bognor, which made it possible to speak to the person next to you.
All that's needed are some fun events, in and and around the resort during the day; some comedy in the stage shows; and some kid-free zones, and Butlins Minehead will still be one of the best holiday venues in the UK.
Thanks to Emily, Kat, Emma, Kayleigh, and Adelle, for their time and hospitality, and to all the staff members, across the board, who were ever smiling and helpful, and who keep Butlins as the safest environment you can holiday in.
02 September 2010
MINEHEAD HERE I COME!!
I'll be at Butlins Minehead Friday 3rd to Monday 6th September. Hope to meet up with as many Redcoats and Ents. Staff as are in the area. Drop me an email at [email protected] and give me your mobile, if you want to arrange a meet.
If you know my mobile - well done!! I haven't got a clue.
Hoping very much to meet up with my old Ents. Manager - Alan Ridgway. Love that man! Great boss!
Will do a mini-report when I get back.
26th July 2010
BUTLINS BOGNOR - BEEN THERE - DONE THAT!!
Am now back from Butlins Bognor, where it was great to meet up with other former Butlins Entertainments staff. Following a posting on this site that I would be there, three ex-Butlins staff also booked in. They were the ever-happy FRANK WORRALL, who was a Redcoat and House Chairman at Butlins Barry in 1969; his charming wife MARIAN WORRALL, who actually met Frank during the season at Barry, where she was a Nursery nurse; and third in our quartette was DAVID MOOREN, who did several seasons for Butlins, working every Camp except Skegness, as Stage Manager. And what a delightful trio of holiday companions they turned out to be.
First person we met up with was ROGER BILLINGTON, who very kindly gave us privileged access to the Butlins Archives - a vast treasure trove of Butlins memorabilia. Among the highlights was watching 1937 footage of the Skegness Camp. Amazing stuff! Until very recently its existence was totally unknown. Roger Billington has several years as a company man, and many Reds will remember him as their Entertainments Manager - Barry Island 1970-71.
The archive room got smaller and smaller as more friends piled in to meet up. First on the scene was RON STANWAY, who, if anyone can be called a 'Butlin legend', it's him - of whom more later. Next to pop in was KENNY JONES. Kenny too has a few decades with Butlins under his belt. He started off as a Redcoat in 1975, and still works in the capacity of Road Manager for one of the visiting acrobatic troupes who play the three Butlins Resorts.
When Roger had to shut up shop, David and I got to have an hour's chat with Kenny, over a coffee (at £2.40 a cup, we weren't going to buy TWO - hot, cold or otherwise!), and it was easy to see why this bubbly, cheeky-chappy, happy-go-lucky lad had been so popular with Campers over all those years. To see Kenny as a Red, use this link: KENNY JONES - Skegness 1988
Wednesday noon, David, Frank, Marian and I walked along the seashore, to have lunch at a local hostelry. There we met up again with the man himself, RON STANWAY, who had brought with him his lovely wife SHEILA. Ron and Sheila, too, are another "Butlins Couple." They met at Clacton in 1955, had a chance meeting at Filey in 1963, and were married at Pwllheli in 1967.
Joining us were two more "leg-ends" - KEN HOPSON and JOAN HINDE. Ken's name will ring bells with hundreds of ex-Entertainmant staff, as he did THIRTY-SIX years with Butlins - including Ents. Manager at Filey 1968. And Joan Hinde has been an ever-present on the Cabaret and Theatre circuit for more years than she can remember, as "Britain's Foremost Trumpeter Entertainer." As can be imagined, in company like that the stories come thick and fast.
With good food, and great company, the time passed all too soon, and we had to rush back to the Camp to get our "EVENING" meal. How many times have you done that in your life - had to excuse yourself from a meal table, because you had another meal to go to?
Thursday morning found us round at Ron Stanway's immaculate home, which is within walking distance of Butlins. There we spent a few very pleasant hours going through his personal albums of Butlins photographs and memorabila. What was amazing to discover was the number of events, tournaments, and competitions which Ron Stanway actually instigated, and which ran on different Camps for many years.
Upon leaving Ron, we went to the local St Mary's Church, and paid our respects at the gravestones of Brett and Brenda Cresswell, and Frank Mansell, among others.
Regarding our break at Butlins, it would have been nice to have looked in on the Camp, and found what was there in the seventies. It would also be nice for me to look in the mirror, and find the hair that was there in the seventies. Unfortunately, very little of both remain, and I have to accept that. So what's there now?
I have to say that everyone concerned with the transformation of Bognor deserves huge credit. The site is spotless, and everything looks finished, unlike Skegness where there are huge areas of derelict and unsightly wasteland. The new Ocean Hotel looks very impressive, and is set off by attractive landscaping, and a water feature fronting it.
All the staff were very friendly, and seemed delighted to be working there.
FOOTNOTE: It was amazing to think that, between Ron Stanway, Ken Hopson, Kenny Jones, and me, we have OVER 100 HUNDRED YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT WITH BUTLINS. (They have 99 years, and I have 2.)
17 July 2010
Thanks to all those who responded to my appeal to meet up at BUTLINS BOGNOR next week. I'm looking forward to meeting Ron and Sheila; Ken and Joan; Frank and Marian; Sylvia and Shirley, David, Roger, Kennie, Terry - and I few little surprises, I hope!
Will do a report when I get back.
By the way, I've never been to Bognor, so I'll be interested to learn how much of the seventies camp remains.
23 June 2010
There is a wonderful high-gloss magazine called "Old Theatres" which, like this site, keeps alive those bygone days which give us such warm memories of how entertainment used to be.
The next issue will contain an article on "BUTLINS THEATRES" - illustrated with great photos.
The February 2011 edition will follow up with hilarious anecdotes from some of the artistes who played them.
Copies of OLD THEATRES magazine cost just £6.66 (including UK postage).
Cheques should be made payable to "T.G. Kirtland" and sent to:
20, Rife Way, Felpham, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, PO22 7BW.
Check out the website:
For further details E-mail: [email protected]
16 June 2010
I'm delighted to announce that, after reading the article ""Mini-Meet" below, Frank Worrall and his wife immediately booked in at Butlins Bognor, for the same mid-week break. Frank and Marion both worked at Barry in 1969 - he as a Redcoat, she as a nurse, so it will be great to meet up and compare notes. Frank, by the way, has been writing some wonderful stories of his time at Barry. Go to this link, and have a laugh.
11 June 2010
It's your web-host - "A.J" Marriot - here. I'll
be taking a mid-week break at BUTLINS BOGNOR from Mon-Fri 19-23 July.
[Please note that I can't get involved in any arrangements for you booking on site, or assist with getting you in as a Day Visitor.]
Clacton: Roy Hudd launches Butlins exhibition
FORMER Butlins redcoat Roy Hudd has officially
A Week's Holiday for a Week's Wage will be on display at the town's library for the next year, charting its opening in 1938 to the day its doors closed in 1983. Mr Hudd told the assembled crowd about his own memories of Butlins, where he was a redcoat for two years from 1958. "I know what you're thinking - what was a two-year-old boy doing there?" he joked.
"It was the greatest place to work and to get started in the business, because you didn't have to be very good! "As redcoats, we did everything possible, from refereeing football matches to dancing in the ballroom." He said he was among good company, counting Dave Allen, Jimmy Cricket and Charlie Drake, among his colleagues. "And Des O'Connor - but you can't win them all," he said.
Also present at the opening of the exhibition were representatives from the Clacton and District Local History Society, Essex County Council, Tendring Council chairman Roy Smith and John Curry, chairman of governors at Colbayns High School. The project has received £50,000 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £35,000 from Creative Partnerships.
Originally published on 12th June 2008 in the COLCHESTER GAZETTE
Quite a few of the ex-Redcoats who went on to become famous were invited to the 2008 Skegness Redcoat Reunion. FREDDIE DAVIES - who went from Redcoat to Ents. Manager between 1959 and 1963 - was disappointed that he couldn't make it. And to show just how genuinely disappointed he really was, he very kindly made a DVD presentation, to show at the Reunion. I originally asked Fred just to tape himself sending greetings to all the Reds. However, he very thoughtfully turned it into a little documenatry, and cleverly edited photos of his Butlins' history into it, accompanied by a very nice narration and background music ("Housewives Choice.") Having made up a few DVDs myself, I know just how much work and time goes into making one, so I really am most grateful to Fred for making such a kind gesture, and I know it was enjoyed by all who had the privilege of watching it.
Freddie ended the DVD by saying that he would do his very best to attend the next reunion, and we have spoken at length about this since I got back. Here's looking at you, Fred! (To be said in the style of Humphrey Bogart.)
Go to: FREDDIE "PARROT-FACE" DAVIES
Another famous face to send in his apologies that he couldn't make the 2008 Skegness Redcoat Reunion was Jimmy Perry - creator and writer of the TV series "Hi-de-Hi." Jimmy was a Redcoat at Pwllheli starting in 1948. For the next three years, he spent his six-week summer break from RADA as a Red. He's quite happy to divulge that all the people who appeared in the TV series were based on actual people he'd met working on the Camp.
He very kindly sent me a signed copy of his autobiography, which is a thoroughly entertaining read, by a very talented writer. If you want to buy a copy it's called:
"A Stupid Boy" by Jimmy Perry. Published by Arrow
Jimmy hasn't been too well of late, so we wish him well, and hope he's fit enough to join us at the next Reunion.
I WILL TELL YOU WHEN
I've seen Leeds funny man Billy Pearce on stage many times, and met him on a couple of occasions, but they were over ten years ago, and there was nothing that I thought Billy might remember me by. Imagine my delight therefore when, upon getting home after the 2008 Skegness Redcoat Reunion, Billy rang to apologise for not getting back to me regarding the Reunion. It was some apology - we chatted for around a hour-and-a-half. Two days later, we spent another hour on the phone. I've forgiven him now.
Although Billy has been a stand-up comedian for
over thirty years, he didn't actually start out as one. In 1970 he did a
season at Butlins Margate, in a singing duo, with his friend Andy Beaumont.
Sadly, Andy has since passed on, but Billy is going to see if he can keep
his own Date-Sheet open for the next Reunion. I can still hear him saying:
"I will tell you when!!"
Go to: BILLY PEARCE
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FILEY REDS??
Amazingly the Butlins Filey Camp had only one representative at the 2008 Skegness Redcoat Reunion. I wrote to the "Remember Filey Butlins" website at least four times, but didn't get so much as a single courtesy reply. There was a party of ten ex-Filey Redcoats who had intended coming, but they self-eliminated owing to holidays, other engagements, and ill-health - until the last two pulled out because the other eight weren't going.
My two old mates Mike Jerome and Johnny Laff,
who were Redcoats at Filey in 1973, also very much wanted to attend, but
both had prior bookings. It's good to know that they are both still working
comics, but it's a beggar when work interferes with play. For the next Reunion,
everyone will have far more advance notice so, hopefully, lots of Filey Reds,
and lots more acts will be joining us.
What a great weekend, at the Skegness Redcoat
Reunion. Thanks to A.J. for organising it, and putting so much in,
AJ, Just to thank you for all your hard work
I had a great time meeting up with the Martin
brothers, Val, and Christine. Not forgetting all my pals from Barry.
Elsie and I enjoyed the weekend. And we both
appreciate all the effort and hard work you put in.
Thanks AJ for a well organised weekend.
Eve & I had a great time at Skegness.
Dear AJ, thank you so much for all your hard
work this happy memorable week .
We had a FANTASTIC time. The girls keep asking
me when the next one is.
As you say it was a weekend where we all made
some very good friends .
RED TALES IN THE