I have lots of memories of my Happy Days as a Redcoat in the 6 seasons which I did at good old Skeggy Camp, I was a Redcoat from 1954-5-6 & 1961-2-3
Do you know, I didn't know what a Redcoat was when I first went to Butlins, I had just finished a tour as Stage Manager (playing theatres all over the UK, Wales, Scotland and Norway) to a variety show with Phyllis Dixey, Hilda Baker, Morton Fraser, Harmonica Gang, Stan Stennett and other talented artists of the day.
When the tour finished I went home to my parents in Lincoln and I went up town the following day and had a pint in the theatre pub, across from the theatre. I met a friend in there who I used to work with at the Lincoln Theatre Royal, Johnny Sharpe. He told me he was on a day off from Butlins where he was Stage Manager of the Empire theatre, I told him that I had just finished a tour. He said that they wanted a stage manager for the Playhouse Theatre at Skegness and he'd put in a good word for me when he got back, which he did for I got a phone call that night (dad had a phone for his small photo business) and I was told that I had got the job (without an interview) and to report early next day which I did, of course.
When l got to Butlins in late April 1954, I think it was, the season had started and I was met at the main gate by Mr "M" Frank Mansell the Entertainment Manager, a much respected man. He made Redcoats, so pleased I was to work under him, he was a good friend to me all the time that I was at Butlins.
Mr "M" said 'I hear you can work a lighting board,' I said that I could, 'good,' he said, 'come with me to the Butlin Theatre' (renamed Gaiety in 1955), 'but I thought I was going to be stage manager in the Playhouse Theatre,' 'not now,' he said, 'as the one operating the lighting board in the Butlin Theatre is leaving, and we are having West End Musicals, Oklahoma, Paint Your Wagon, Desert Song, Zip Goes a Million, etc later in the season so I would like you to work in the Butlin Theatre.'
After 2 weeks I seemed to have plenty of time on my hands with only doing night shows, so Mr "M" noticed this and asked me into his office and told me he would like me to do Redcoat Duties, I learnt afterwards that thousands of young campers would have given their right arm to be a Redcoat and I had it on a plate, he must have thought I could do it as he gave me a chitty for two Redcoat uniforms, and the rest is history. It was another world being a Famous Butlin Redcoat I was to find out, the many many duties were enjoyable, I even refereed professional wrestling, stood in for the House Capt. and did the Speils, spinning for the champagne at evening meal in the dining halls on their days off, organised tournaments for snooker, table tennis, tennis, darts, football, cricket, swimming, boating, regetta competitons, and competitions like knobbly knees, Miss "She", "Cheerful, Chubby and Charming", Miss Lux, Mother and Child, Holiday Princess, Glamourous Grandmother, etc etc.
I got to work with a few Redcoats who made it, like Dave O'maHoney (later to be Dave Allen) in 1955-6 and dear Freddie (Parrot Face) Davies, who I still email today. I worked with Ringo Starr (when he was Richard Starkey) in 1962, when he came and worked in the Rock Ballroom with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. He asked me to tape him drumming Skin Deep one afternoon in the Gaiety, later that year he left Butlins to be a Beatle.
I made loads of friends - campers, staff, fellow Redcoats, like Bob Daley, Ken Wood, Richard (Prof) Gooch, Joyce Pay (Stewarts), Doreen Shaw (Barker), Liz Smith, and Julie Stallard (Humphreys). The last two ladies were also Revue Dancers. I still, in 2012, email most of them, although most live abroad now.
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