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Life as a Redcoat -
Photographs courtesy of Richard Parkin

From An All Boys School To Teacher
By Richard Parkin

I started as a Redcoat at Butlin’s, Filey in July 1963 straight from an all boys Grammar School in Mansfield, Nottingham. I was given two days to find my way around the camp because as a Redcoat you had to know where everything was - from the nearest toilet to the direction of anyone’s chalet from anywhere on the site. Redcoats had to know everything! It wasn’t too long before I also discovered that my cherished red coat allowed me access to almost any female that I chose and coming from an all boys school, you can imagine how that felt – I suddenly discovered ‘women’ and thus I definitely grew up there! I worked for four summers whilst I was doing my teacher training and I met some lovely people there – both staff and campers – and I have lots of photographs to remind me of what a great place it was.

People came to be entertained and to have a good time – the Redcoats had to make sure that that happened. We would organise competitions, whist drives, snooker, football, darts, Glamorous Grandmothers, Holiday Princess, as well as all the children’s competitions, we would act as bouncers in the Rock Ballroom, we would dance with campers in the Old Time and Modern Ballrooms, some would act as lifeguards for both pools (indoor and outdoor), we would sit up till gone midnight doing the late night bingo and then still be up for first sitting breakfast at 7:30 am smiling away as if our lives depended on it – our jobs certainly did! We were a happy and talented bunch of comrades and we still manage to meet up occasionally and chew over the old days!

I took my wife to the Filey site about ten years ago – she had never been there – perhaps because of all the tales that I related to her. We walked around the site and I could find places only through the kerbing and the location of the swimming pools. We stopped for a time and she asked why there were tears rolling down my cheeks; I said that I was so sad to see the place where I had grown up in such a state. All those places where people had had such good times were no more –
The Children’s Theatre; the Viennese Ballroom; Kent, Gloucester, York, Lancaster, Windsor and Connaught Dining Rooms; the Gaiety Theatre; the Pig and Whistle; the Chairlift - It grieved me to see the destruction and I really wished that I hadn’t gone back.

We left the site with a rose bush that has bright red blooms and it still grows in our garden – it grew at the top of the steps leading up to the side of the 1963 Reception building! I still look back at those times as the best in my life – Butlin’s made me into something special, even if only for just those few years. It taught me how to smile and gave me loads of skills that I use in teaching – the ability to see the funny side of life and the ability to look for fun and enjoyment in the most ordinary things and people. There are many tales to tell and there are some that are best not told.



Disclaimer - This site is dedicated to preserving the memories and heritage of the Filey Butlins camp. It has no connection whatsoever with Butlins, Bourne Leisure or any associated companies, nor has it been endorsed by them.

human : arts & education publishing
copyright images - Sarah Daniels