Information kindly submitted by Ron Stanway - General Manager, Entertainment & Promotions for the Butlin Group 1974 to 1990 and Competition Producer 1968 to 1990
From 1960 to 1970, Butlin's joined forces with the D of E Award Scheme and offered complimentary accommodation and meals at Ayr, Filey and Pwllheli, the three Centres with the most suitable local countryside for expedition training or testing.
Butlin's purchased all the equipment likely to be needed; items such as Anoraks, Over Trousers, Tents, Ground Sheets, Primus Stoves etc. were put into stock at each of the sites. Arrangements were also made through the Catering Buyer at each site, to stock smaller size packs of various foods (smaller than the enormous sized catering packs usually used), that could be carried in kit-bags. Baked beans, soups, dried vegetables, raisins, chocolate etc etc were put into stock for each party. Advance notice was given to each group as to what was available to enable them to plan their requirements. This planning was all part of the expedition test. In addition to the items already mentioned, supplies of paraffin and methylated spirit for the Primus's; sausage, bacon and some meats were available too. For the day of departure, Packed Lunches were made available to save the party preparing meals too soon into their expedition.
By supplying all this food/equipment, Butlin's had requested that the D of E office concentrate their publicity for bookings on the underprivileged areas of the inner cities. We were therefore able to help those less fortunate people.
Free accommodation, of one week for each party, was given to teams of eight; two leaders and six candidates. Four, two berth chalets and a dining table for 8 was set aside. Teams would arrive either by train , coach or their own transport on Saturday - having checked into their accommodation they would then report to the Entertainment Office where the Entertainment Manager would meet them and allocate whatever equipment was required. Teams had ordered foodstuffs in advance and this was collected from the Catering Store by arrangement. Sunday would be spent practising erecting tents etc and generally preparing for the trip.
If teams had no transport of their own then Butlin's would provide free transport in a mini-bus to the point of the expedition start and collect them at a pre arranged spot on Thursday. Three nights out was the requirement for the Gold Award. Bronze and Silver awards required less. Fridays were then spent cleaning and returning all the borrowed equipment. Saturday, teams left for home.
Some teams came purely for training whilst others came for testing, and official assessors watched and checked them throughout their time away. The assessors were all arranged by the D of E office and rarely were they made known to the staff at Butlin's or indeed visit a Centre. The Chief Warden of the North Yorkshire Moors however, always wanted to meet the teams prior to them leaving for the expedition, be it training or test. This gentleman wanted to know in advance if he or his wardens were likely to be called out, as the moors were very vulnerable to sudden mists. At Filey, a meeting was always arranged for the Saturday evening to enable the Warden to assess the capabilities of each group.