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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
to GARETH AIDAN DUGGAN for sharing