Old News

After the excitement of Totton Drama Festival, I commented to Purple Fred (whom I will continue to love very much after we’re married) that it was the second time in my life that I’d gone through to the second round of something. Which of course required explanation…

Back in the far-off days of long ago (between 1974 and 1987, if I remember right), I was a cadet member of St John Ambulance. Our division had a team which entered first aid competitions, and our team coach was a man of great vision and imagination called Mike, who was also our Division Superintendent. Mike decided in my first year in St John that rather than entering the best team he could, he’d put together a team of the youngest and least experienced who would do badly in the first year, but would stick together through our time in the cadets and after a few years be the most skilled and experienced team around.

Well the first bit of the plan – the bit where we didn’t do very well to start with – went as expected, but we did start climbing up the rankings. In our area – Hampshire Central -there were two competitions at the start of every year for cadets, the Allen Shield coming first, with the area round of the National competition coming and few weeks later. The competitions were in two parts, an individual round where each team member dealt with a simulated casualty on their own (although the judge would sometimes perform the role of a helpful bystander), and then a team round where we worked as a team of four to deal with a multi-casualty incident.

There was also a uniform inspection with a prize for the best turned out team, but although we did our best we never caused any work for the people handing out the prizes in that one.

Anyway, our last year as a team together arrived: before the next competition year started three of the four of us be too old for the cadets and would have moved up to an adult division. For the last couple of years our division and one of the other Southampton teams had been deadly rivals and the smart money had us coming first and second, although which way round was anyone’s guess. Not only that but their team leader, Philip, and I were in the same position for the Highest Individual Score award.

The day of the area round came, we competed, and the results were eagerly awaited. The uniform trophy was awarded, but not to us: It was time for the Individual award. The room held its breath, as did Philip and I who happened to be standing next to each other at the front of our respective teams.

It was a draw between Philip and me. We shook hands and smiled at each other.

Then it was time for the big one: the overall result, the aggregate of the team score and the four individuals, which would decide which team represented Central Area in the Hampshire round.

It was us…with a margin of seven marks out of three hundred!

So we went to the county competition: the winner here would go on to the South of England regional round, beyond which stood only the National final. Not only did we not win, we were totally outclassed. I’m hoping not to repeat that experience.

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