Maria Marsden (née Podlasiuk)

Joined 1981

Irlam and Cadishead Nursing Cadet Division, Greater Manchester

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Colour photograph of 11 female Cadets in grey Cadet dresses, posing for a photograph in camp dormitory
Barnstondale, Wirral, week camp, Maria Podlasiuk (bottom right), summer 1985 Image courtesy of Maria Marsden
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Barnston was a week-long camp, we went on the Saturday. We used to go and meet at Eight Ounce Street in Manchester. and we’d get on the coach, in our uniform with our kit and things in our bag. Then we’d get there, get allocated our dormitories. They used to be big dormitories of twenty-two girls, and then the bathrooms in the middle, and then another twenty-two. And then the boys were on the opposite side with just a door between the boys and the girls, that was locked. And there was cupboards pushed to the sides that very, very quickly got pushed apart, so you could pass notes and things underneath. As we progressed a little bit and we got a little bit older – I don’t know if I should be saying this really, we actually took the hinges off the doors, so the boys were in the girls and the girls were in the boys at one point. Yeah, all sorts of silly little things, but nothing that was, you know, dangerous or anything. But the Officers were always – somebody was always on the lookout for the Officers so we could try and put that back and things. I do remember, one day Eileen came in, she was one of our Officers, she’s still in St John now and she knew something was wrong because all the girls were in their beds pretending nothing was going on. And one of the boys had got stuck underneath, under one of the beds. And she did find him and asked what he was doing. And he just said, “I’m just doing push-ups.” And he was doing them underneath. So yeah, different things happened.

We also one weekend camp organised to meet the boys on the parade ground at something like 2 o’clock in the morning, and sort of broke out of the girls’ dorm. And as soon as we were running out – the Officers must have heard us, because we were so excited, got to the parade ground, the boys weren’t there. So we thought they’d gnashed out on us and left us to it. But they’d gone into one of the classrooms at the back and were sat there in the warm, while we were stood outside in the cold. So eventually we found them, and obviously the Officers came looking for us. So we all panicked and piled out the window at the back and tried to get back into the dorms. Kerry got back into the dorm, a few other people did, but I was caught with a few others. And I remember it now, I had bright yellow pyjamas, and it was in October, so it was muddy and wet. And they were absolutely filthy up to my knees, and things so. We were banned from camp once, but they did let us back the following year, because they knew we were only up to just mischief rather than anything else. And then eventually I started to run the same camp, so it can’t have been that bad can it?

Excerpt courtesy of Maria Marsden