Gareth Aidan (Duggan)

Butlins Ayr 1972 Gareth 1 at Redcoats Reunited

I was known as Gareth Aidan at the time which were my first and middle names, I just dropped my surname of Duggan when I first got there.
I was a Redcoat for two full seasons, 1972 and 1973 at Ayr, then in 1975 did the early part of the season at Minehead, before finishing up at Pwllheli in 1975.

I started at the beginning of the 1972 season in Ayr as a GD Redcoat, but was shortly after made a Redcoat Compere by Robert Butlin, along with about three or four other Redcoats, after he saw me on stage during an interval in the cash bingo sessions. He told me he liked the way I came over on the mic’, and he liked how I was interacting with the audience.

Butlins Ayr 1972 Gareth 3 at Redcoats Reunited

All the girls are dancers from the resident Cyril Dowler Productions.
L-R. Wendy, Linda? Tina, Mo, and Pam.
Like most of the professional dancers, they did some minor duties as Redcoats,
 as a way of paying for their accommodation.

The Redcoat Comperes at Ayr were generally the ones that ran the events the official camp compere, Tony Peers, could not do, as he was doing the bigger and more important sponsored competitions. Tony was really loved by the ‘campers’ - and by all the Redcoats. I learnt a lot just watching him work an audience.

Butlins Ayr 1972 Gareth 2 at Redcoats Reunited

The girl sitting on my lap is the last of the six girls in the dance troupe, whose name escapes me. Tina is holding the No.1, and Pam is far right. The two girls at the back probably worked in the Children's Department (Beaver Club). They appear as No.2 and No.4 on the 1972 team photo. The man with the microphone is the children’s entertainer, Uncle Bry.

I remember seeing the first season of Hi- De- Hi and thinking to myself at the time that it was so accurate. Every single thing that happened in the show, I either experienced myself or witnessed it happening to others: the chalet maids (and others) who really wanted to be Redcoats; and the more experienced Redcoats who somehow managed to have several birthdays within the same season!

Pam McMillan had also been at Ayr in 1969. See the AYR 1969 REDCOATS. She and I were good friends and worked together for Butlins, and Cyril Dowler Productions, until the late-seventies.

Butlins Ayr 1972 Gareth 4 at Redcoats Reunited
Butlins Ayr 1972 Gareth 5 at Redcoats Reunited

Our Entertainments Manger, Harry Cuff, was very similar to the Jeffrey Fairbrother character, in that he did not have an entertainments background (I believe he had previously worked for Indesit, the washing machine manufacturer), and was almost as awkward in public as the TV character.

Butlins Ayr 1972 Gareth 6 at Redcoats Reunited

The dancers from the 1972 Revue show with one of the acts whose name escapes me, possibly one half of 'Montelli & June.'

Ricky Gibson gave all the new Redcoats a lecture right at the start of the season, and I remember one part of it very well: “You will all have several daily duties to perform and you will have time off in between duties, but let me warn you right now, any time you are wearing your red coat in public, you are on duty — even if you think you are off duty! You are not a taxi, and do not have an on/off switch.” It also came with a dire warning that if he ever saw us behaving badly in front of the campers, we would be out the gates so quickly, our feet would not touch the ground. He was a really dedicated entertainments person, and very passionate about the job.

Butlins Ayr 1972 Gareth 7 at Redcoats Reunited

Me trying to persuade a donkey to take part in the Donkey Derby.
I hated donkeys, and I think this one knew it.


Butlins Ayr 1972 Gareth 8 at Redcoats Reunited

Here we are Singing "Oklahoma" in Ayr, where the rain also comes sweepin' down the plain.
Butlins Ayr 1972 Gareth 9 at Redcoats Reunited
Butlins Ayr 1972 Gareth 10 at Redcoats Reunited
Keith and me in a sketch of some sort. I had two songs - Tom Jones’s "It’s Not Unusual’ and Elvis Presley’s "Burning Love."

Butlins Pwllheli 1975 Gareth 11 at Redcoats Reunited
And this is the last shot of me in Reds, when 1975 found me at Pwllheli, and wearing my newly-grown Pancho Villa-style facial hair.

I absolutely loved being a Redcoat and believe I was very good, mainly because I had the help and support of so many colleagues who equally loved doing the job.

Thank you for putting together the Redcoats Reunited site, it has brought back so many very happy memories of the 'job' that opened up my world, and played such a large part in developing many of the characteristics that have remained with me for all these years.

Gareth Aidan

With thanks to GARETH AIDAN DUGGAN for sharing these unique photos.




See also:

AYR 1969 REDCOAT - Albert Mosley

AYR 1970 REDCOAT - Albert Mosley

Redcoats Reunited homepage