The Observer received a couple of colourful responses to the photograph published in September 14 issue of youngsters surrounding a boat with former Bexhill Mayor the late Ivor Brampton.
There’s been a gentle rap over the editorial knuckles because they were described as ‘sea cadets’.
Richard Sheppard emailed to say: “The photo referred to is actually the 2nd Bexhill Sea Scouts, not Sea Cadets, outside their HQ in Buckhurst Road. I am the scout standing to the left of Ivor B. I am now 45 and assuming I am about 12 in the photo, the year must be around 1978.
“The scout behind Ivor’s arm may be Robert Griggs (my patrol leader). Scott Blything (who is a local plumber) may be the scout standing to the right of the scout sitting on the dinghy.
“I think Ivor gifted the dinghy to us and I can recall sailing her from Bexhill Sailing Club and at a boating weekend called ‘Rother’ - obviously on the river Rother – at Wittersham. I think she was a Cadet dinghy.
“The chap behind me is Bill Bray (deceased) who was the Group Scout Leader. The chap on the far right was John Walder (Bosun) and the chap two left of him was Mike Vigar (Skip – who I think is also deceased). My father (Rob Sheppard) was also a leader but cannot see him in the photo.
“An interesting thing is that the chap on the deck holding the jib is Nigel May (a good friend!) who is currently a Commander in the Royal Navy. He is currently Air Commander on HMS Illustrious (an aircraft carrier).
“Thanks for the blast from the past!”
And we had this reprimand from Simon Richardson, who now lives in Normandy in France, submitting some wonderful detail.
“Sea Cadets? Please, I think you mean outside the Head Quarters of the 2nd Bexhil Sea Scouts, bottom of Buckhurst Rd. Not sure of the occasion but what fond, nostalgic memories this photo conjures up.
Canoeing on the River Rother, pioneering and ‘kick-the-can’ in Kiteye woods, night hikes, British Bulldog, racing out of your cold, old canvas tents in the morning on summer camp near Petworth to get Kingfisher Patrol’s campfire alight first, the raising and lowering of the flag ‘up-on-deck’ to the sound of a Bosun’s call (mind it doesn’t touch the ground), chalk rugby, how to pack a ‘framed’ rucksack, nettle tea, the annual ‘float’ in the Bexhill Carnival, St George’s Day Parade, abseiling at Galley Hill, sailing courses near Pevensey Bay, the Norfolk Broads, Bob-A-Job week, the annual inter-scout fishing competition along the Marsh Road, fundraising ‘car wash’, sponsored fast, Kendal mint cake, learning how to make a ring donut out of your neck scarf in case someone ever got a huge shard of glass in their arm, “be prepared” carry a 10 pence piece in case you needed to make a phone call home, map reading with 6-figure grid references, making a lanyard, making a rope stretcher, whitening your sailors hat, blimey ‘polishing’ your shoes with black dubbin (put an old sock on your hand first), sharpening a hand-axe, wooden stave jousting, Blackboys weekend hikes, cycle rides to Burwash, bushcraft (whittling a woggle), slowest bike race on a gravel ‘unadopted’ road in Cooden, litter picking the beach, striving to make it upstairs into the ‘Venture’ Scouts, the tuck shop (who was that lovely lady? her Cocoa was to die for).
Then Michael Vigar, more commonly known as ‘Skip’ ... (front of photo), one of the most inspiring and kindest leaders, often mistaken for a lad, his guitar playing, folk songs, stories of far-off places (with ‘authentic’ accents), the Air Scouts, his ‘popeye’ corner of the mouth yell of “boy -come here!” if you ever got caught, up to no good, the twiddling of the ring on his finger, his snuff box collection, his constant reminder that old ‘scout’ friends always shake hands with their left hand ! RIP old friend, dearly missed.”
Meanwhile Robert Carey emailed with this about the famous faces of last week’s paper: “I believe that David Jacobs, Jimmy Edwards and Jack Howarth were pictured at Colwall Court, Pages Lane, where the charity STARS ORGANISATION FOR SPASTICS (SOS ) had a holiday home for children. One of the founders of this facility, an old converted school, was Dame Vera Lynn who was an annual visitor. The late Lancastrian entertainer Wilfred Pickles was her co-founder.
“By the way Jimmy Edwards played the trombone (quite a renowned player), not the trumpet.
“I am not sure if the picture of Jasper Carrot was taken at this time but he appeared as the act at the DLWP (old Elizabethan Rooms) at the annual prize giving of the British Legion Club, Bexhill, in I believe 1974. I am also sure he did his version of The Magic Roundabout that is a bit naughty.”
John Morgan was a teacher at Ancaster House School and contacted us to say: “I organised a Fifth Year Social Club, and at that particular time, the pupils decided that they would like to raise funds to go to to the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Foundation. Gunnar Nilsson was a Swedish reacing driver who developed cancer and unfortunately died in 1978. His mother immediately set up the Cancer Foudation in his memory.
“I took the group of girls in the picture to meet Michael Parkinson on stage at the De La Warr Pavilion, where he had kindly agreed to autograph the bat which was later auctioned (as far as I can remember) to add to the funds already raised.”
And this from Bruce Fox who noticed the interest in celebrities: “In 1963/64 I visited a folk club held in the East Wing of the pavilion on the ground floor, and a visiting act was Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. My memory tells me they were in London and “doing” the rounds of folk clubs. This was well before they were famous. I doubt there are any ‘photos, but other locals might recall the event, although there weren’t a great number in the audience.”