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PONTINS PRESTATYN 1973

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PONTINS PRESTATYN 1973
ONE 11 CLUB

Did you work at Pontins Prestatyn in 1973, then send your name, job role and even memories and we will include them on this page, and if you have any photos from Pontins Prestatyn of the early 1970's of you or the Holiday Camp please send them as well, thanks email busesfanclub@aol.com

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STAFF ROLL CALL 1973

CHALET MAIDS

 Kath Perrett also known as Kate

 BAR STAFF

 Jill Barnham / Smith (below)

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 Graham Smith took over as Ents Manager at Christmas '73

 

 OTHER STAFF

Malcolm Perrett known as Mal, was one of the Snap Happy photographer

 Memories from Bluecoat Gina Robinson

From 1969 to 1975 I worked as a Redcoat at Butlins and then as a Bluecoat at Pontins. This is my story. Hold onto your hats, its going to be a bumpy ride. If you have ever been to a holiday camp you will at least, in some way, know what I am on about. If you haven't...then let us begin: The holiday camp was designed to give the great British Public an affordable holiday with everything being taken care of in one place. The first to be opened was on the Isle of Man. Cunninghams Camp for young men opened in 1894. At this camp, which was men only, they slept in long rows of tents lit only by candles but they did have a heated swimming pool (sounds a bit like Club 18-30). The first camp to open to both sexes was Potters in 1924 and boasted such luxeries as brick built chalets with running water, electric lights and modern toilet facilites. However, it was Billy Butlin who opened Skegness in 1936 who took the Holiday Camp experience to another level. Of course, Harry Warner opened his first camp in 1931, a good five years before Butlin, and it goes to say you cannot omit the mighty Fred Pontin who opened his first camp in 1946. But the crown has to go to Billy Butlin, a showman, whose catch phrase was 'Give em what they want (but do it cheap and cheerful)' and thats exactly what he did. The first camp I worked on was Butlins, Minehead, Somerset, average capacity around 15.000 people, I was a Junior Campers Leader/Entertainer Redcoat by day, Singer/Dancer by night. The campers thought we were gods (poor misguided fools) and some of the redcoat boys thought they were to. First rule..do not believe your own publicity. Second rule, if you get time to sleep...SLEEP. The average day was from about 7-30am for first sitting breakfast to 12-00 midnight goodnight campers. Now I know what you are thinking, you can't possibly work all those hours, well YES you can. My average day went..... 7-30am Clap the campers into breakfast, socialise (going from table to table smiling and chatting) then grab your breakfast, and report to the entertainments office to collect your daily rota. 9-00am Swimming gala...At the hieght of the season around 300 children would turn up... ARGHHHHHH!!! 10.00am Childrens' ramble...NO...'cause we were still getting through the heats in the swimming gala. 12.00 mid-day Lunch (1st sitting) Hot foot it to clap the campers in and socialise. Grab your lunch.... 1.00pm as 12.00 mid-day 2.00pm Butlins Junior Princess, A competition to find Butlins prettiest little girl. How sweet!...NOOOO!!! This frequently turned into a bitchfest between mums with us in the middle. 3.00pm Mini Golf...NO... because we are still refereeing the mums at the junior princess. 4.00pm Mini Golf, if we are lucky only 200 kids turn up. 5.00pm 1st sitting Dinner...think you have the idea by now. 6.00pm 2nd sitting dinner ................ 7.00pm, Junior Campers Variety Show, Now this is the moment all good Redcoat/Entertainers get to shine (Twinkle Twinkle). I had several things to do in this show. Play sheepdog to more than a 1000 children. Make sure mums and dads came to no harm and then get my a*** backstage to get changed...into! No, not some fabulous costume specially made by some theatrical costumier, but a DUCK suit. Yes. I was a DUCK and I remained a DUCK for the whole of the season. 9.00pm, RUN, as fast as I could to the Blinking Owl Bar where I was transformed into a BIRD, what is it with me and our feathered friends. The costume consisted of a leotard covered in feathers, fishnet tights, and a feathered balaclava, now I must point out I am not and never have been a stick insect type, so please use your imagination when I say I looked like a cross between Giant Haystacks and Bella Emberg, and to add injury to insult, I had then to sit in a swing which was attached to a monorail which swung out over the drinkers' heads and went a complete circuit of the bar. Whilst on this circuit I had to sing old songs like 'She Was A Sweet Little Dicky Bird' and other old time ditties. 10.00pm Into the Gaiety Ballroom for some ballroom dancing. You know, encouraging the lonely chaps to come and have a dance sounds nice doesn't it? That is until they get a grip and won't let go!. 11.30pm Prepare for Goodnight Campers. Make sure everyone is seated so that we can take our places in a row opposite the campers to sing Goodnight Campers...and we really meant it!. 12.00am Make sure the ballroom is clear. Round up any stragglers and make sure they are safely on there way to their chalets. (Their OWN chalets) strike the mikes (wrap up leads and put microphones into boxes), and take them to the Entertainment Office. Then, depending who was on the rota, go round every venue and make sure all the equipment was stored safely and all the lights were out. 1.30am (ish)...BED, if your lucky.That is, unless you run into some overexcited campers who think it would be a jolly jape to CHUCK YOU IN THE POOL! redcoat and all, it's no good trying to fight this it happens to all of us at least 80 times a season. And so it continues, every day the program changes, every day has different events and shows, all of which were to be done with the Redcoat Grin, it was SMILE SMILE SMILE from morning to night, and was a sackable offence if you were caught not smiling. It didnt matter that someone might be telling you their husband/wife had fallen over and was rushed to hospital, you had to sympathise with a smile. They must have thought we were looney. The average season was from April to September. Now of course they are open all year round. The number of redcoats did vary slightly from camp to camp. Minehead had around 30. There were Junior Campers Leaders, Sports Organisers, Dance Instructors, Swimming Coaches, and Gereral Redcoats, who did most of the donkey work. We were all contracted to work 6 days a week with no mention of how many hours. At the begining of the season, when you get your uniform and put it on for the first time, there is no feeling like it. When you walk out of that building for the very first time and everyone wants to talk to you, and children run up and ask for your autograph, it is like winning the lottery and if you are contemplating going into the Entertainment Business forget X Factor, or Pop Idol, or any of those fast track ways to Show Business. Get yourself a job on a holiday camp and learn not how to show off but how to be an ENTERTAINER. Well dear friends if you are still awakey wakey!, I hope I haven't frightened too many of you, this is only part of my story as to tell it all in one go would rival war & peace.....watch out for the rest.... Hi - De - Hi Part Two. Inspired by the need to set the record straight viz-a-vis Wakey Wakey Campers the Channel 4 programme, that is so unlike any camp I have ever been on, and I've been on a few...1969-70 Butlins Minehead, '70 Pontins Southport,'71-'72-'73 Pontins Prestatyn, '73- Pontins Barton Hall, '75 Pontins Blackpool,'75-Pontins Broadreeds, so I think I can probably say I know what I'm talking about. If you haven't read Part One then a short summary will follow : Job - Redcoat at Butlins (sorry read Slave at Butlins) whose sole joy in life was to make campers h-a-p-p-y. As a Junior Campers Leader by day it was my job to help aproximately 5.000 kids have fun.... and by night to sing dance and generally help approximately 10.000 adults have fun....OK on to Part Two. After my first season with Butlins I swore I would never return even if I had absolutely nothing else but, as winter drew to close and the only job I had had was as a mechanical clown in Lewis's window, (I am not going to bore you with that story!...well...I might be persuaded) I realised that the beckoning Butlins didn't seem quite so bad. So, off I went for another fun packed season, it is at this point I should point out that friends and family wanted to have me certified... however, I ditched the straight jacket and wended my way to Somerset. The second season, so I am told is a lot easier, NOOOOO it is not...it's harder, because, as a seconder, you are expected to chaperone the newbies. I lasted from April to June and after an incident with the boating pool was told that mine and a number of others' services were no longer needed. The incident in question occurred on the Boat Race Day when campers get into little row boats and do races. This particular day it was over 100°F and we were melting in our woolen redcoats so we all thought it would be a good idea to leap into the boating lake to cool off. Something so FORBIDDEN that it is a hanging offence at the very least, but seeing as there was no management around we could blame it on the campers and when asked why we were all looking like drowned rats, we politely said "The campers did it". It was the following morning at the meeting when a bunch of us were called foward and escorted to the Butlins Cinema where we were shown a special edition of 'Butlins Movie News'. This was shown to the campers on every friday and included competitions and events that the campers had taken part in.This particular show was for our benefits only and showed all of us shouting "WHEEEEEE" and leaping completely unaided into the boating lake. Needless to say we were escorted to our chalets and told to pack and vacate the camp. It was at this point I was ready to jack it in and go and work at Woolworths. but the smell of the greasepaint and the call of the footlights was so strong that I had to have another go. Enter PONTINS. On arriving home I made a phone call to my nearest Pontins Camp which was at Ainsdale Beach, Southport just to enquire if they might in the future need any Entertainment Staff. I was asked if I had any experience and when I mentioned Butlins was offered a job over the phone even after telling them that I had been sacked for throwing myself into the boating lake, The Entertainments Manager said that he had been a redcoat and would probably have thrown the manager in first. My first impression of Pontins was how tiny it was in comparison to Butlins and how laid back. The Bluecoat who showed me to my chalet was wearing a white T-shirt and shorts...NO bluecoat! I remarked about this and he said "Are you nuts, it's in the 80s, we'd melt". I was given a tour of the camp, which took all of 5 minutes ( I said it was small didn't I ). All the campers seemed to be having a great time and it was at this point that the chap who was showing me round asked what was it I found so amusing. I explained that I was doing the 'Redcoat Grin'. "If you carry on like that everyone is going to think you've been up to something"....he said. It was so much more relaxed and because of that the guests (you didn't call them campers at Pontins) were also relaxed, everything was done with such ease, no manic running round, everything was at a far more leisurely pace. All the same, competitions and events that Butlins had, but done with finesse, also a new innovation was the self-catering chalet. These were definately more luxurious than anything at Butlins and it wasn't long before Billy Butlin caught on and was offering the same to his campers...but it all began at Pontins. On a saturday, when guests were booking in, we made it our mission in life to get invited to as many guests' chalets for lunch/dinner/any meal as we could. This would be done by sidling up to the people who looked well fed and then telling them how miserable the canteen was and how they reminded you of your mum/nan/anyone and how you missed their cooking, how you were wasting away (difficult for me as I've always been...er...chunky) but it never failed they would always invite you. The Pontins day ran differently to Butlins because with no dining hall there were no meals to clap campers into...HURRAH! So our day usually started around 10.00am with a Gents' Darts Competition, a Whist Drive or a Swimming Gala. Gone was the frantic mad dash from one event to another, instead you would do one event in the morning and one event in the afternoon. There would be several events going on at any one timeand something for everybody but the difference was we didn't need to attend all of them. I was in HEAVEN....We had some kind of show in the evening like The Wild West Show, The Olde Tyme Music Hall or the America Show and not forgetting the highlight of the week...The Bluecoat Revue. Even if you were not a singer or a dancer, you could take part in a sketch. It was a time when everyone got a chance to shine and it led me onto a fabulous career....but that's another story! The day would end with "Goodnight Campers" unless you had slipped up whilst trying to fill in time during a cock-up over Bingo. I was asked to talk to the guests whilst they sorted the mess out and, thinking that no one was listening to me anyway, was telling everyone about forthcoming events, including a Midnight Cockle Hunt, which backfired and kept me up till 3.00am because 500 guests turned up at reception demanding to be taken on a Cockle Hunt. Thinking very quickly I led them onto the beach, stood them in circles and asked them to sing 'Land of Hope and Glory'. "When the cockles pop their heads up to see what the noise is about 'Grab 'em!" I whispered. After we'd done this several times to no avail I was asked why there weren't any cockles... "It's the mating season" I answered. "What difference does that make?" I was asked. "Well, would you stop what you were doing just because someone was singing 'Land of Hope and Glory' " I replied. If I had to sum up my days as a Redcoat/Bluecoat. I would probably say THOSE WERE THE BEST (and worst) DAYS OF MY LIFE.....if your Young Free and Single, you go for it

 Bluecoat Gina Robinson

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 Gina all dressed up when she compered the Grand Final of Glam Grans comp, where all the finalists from other camps came together for a big finale.  

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