Matthew Thomas

Joined 1968

Shaftesbury Ambulance Cadet Division, Newport, Wales

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Matthew Thomas at Cadet camp on the Isle of Wight, August 1974 Image courtesy of Matthew Thomas
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I did my cookery course and cooked a salad to get the award on that. I still can’t cook. Camping was great fun. We went to the Isle of Wight twice. I was at the Swansea Cadet Jamboree Jubilee – Jamboree in – where are we now, ‘22? So it would have been ‘72, possibly, but it was one of the first camps I did in Swansea. Met many people from around the world there. We did camps in the other Newport in South Wales, in Pembrokeshire, near Fishguard and we did camps in – we went to the Channel Islands twice, Guernsey and ever since I’ve hated tomatoes.

They were fun camps. They were different in each place. They were well run, certainly, to my mind, looking back. As the Canvas and Cordage Officer I was responsible for putting – lighting fires and putting out fires, putting up the tents. So we’d arrive a week early, then do the camp itself. And then if there wasn’t another Cadet camp coming afterwards, we’d take all the tents down and transport them back. And the two on the Isle of Wight, one, I was very much a young Cadet. The second one I was a mature Cadet and sort of having done O Levels already, GCSEs and sitting A-levels, ready to go on and work. So we did trips, not that I remember the content of the trips as such. On the Channel Islands we were very much aware that St John Ambulance ran the ambulance service on the island. Katherine, I think was the name of the ambulance boat that we went out in. And 1969, so I’d been in St John for just over a year, was the first Channel Island camp and it coincided with the trip to the moon.

Excerpt courtesy of Matthew Thomas