Craig Wood

Joined 1982

Whitefield Quadrilateral Division, Greater Manchester

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Colour photograph of two Cadets staning outside in front of a bus holding cuddly toys, wearing black and white St John uniform.
Craig Wood (right) in No.1 uniform, 1987 Image courtesy of Craig Wood
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As a Cadet it was still the black and white. I’ve still got my Cadet uniform, it’s in the loft at home. I nearly brought it actually today just to show you. So I do collect badges and all sorts of stuff like that and I like to keep a history of what we’ve been through so I’ve still got that now. So it was a black tie, white shirt. It was like a bomber jacket, zip up bomber jacket and a beret. I’ve still got my beret and it still fits. And I remember taking it home when I first got it and, you know, following the instructions of, “Get it all wet. Get in the bath, get it wet and then put it on your head and mould it to your head. And then take it off as it’s still moulded and dry it so that it stays in the shape that you wanted it.” And I was very proud to wear my hat and I was always going on with the other lads in the Brigade. Sort of, “Will you get your beret sorted out properly?” Because I was obsessed with wearing my beret properly. I was also obsessed with my roses and the way the badges were because the Lancashire Rose has to be up the right way. So a little man stood there and all the stitching had to be in the right way. So I was a bit of a stickler for my uniform and I always have been and I’m still proud to wear my uniform. It has to be right if it’s going to be right.

It wasn’t comfortable. I think to be fair the uniform that we’ve currently got, the green shirts and the combat pants is probably the best uniform that they’ve ever brought out because it’s easy to work in. Though it is a hot day today and it’s hot to work in. But yeah, always proud to wear it. It depends where you are. It feels a bit awkward sometimes but if you’re with a group of people it’s just nice to be – and I still have my No. 1 uniform as an adult. I’m still proud to wear that and I’ll still prefer to wear that sometimes depending on where we’re going.

My white butty bag that went over my shoulder. It carried some very out of date First Aid kit normally. An eye pad, I always remember the eye pad being in there which was older than it should be and then you used to carry your dinner, your drink, your Walkman radio. Your Walkman which, you will not remember but it was like a tape cassette and then it changed to a CD which you couldn’t really wear. You couldn’t really listen to it properly and move at the same time because it used to jump. So yeah, there was that. And then we had a small bag eventually which we were gutted about because the white bags got dirty and so did the strap that went over. But the ones that go on your side were so much smaller you couldn’t fit anything in them apart from the First Aid kit, so it was a bit of a disappointment when we changed to that. But again, I’ve still got my white bag.

Excerpt courtesy of Craig Wood