DOWN MEMORY LANE Quick-thinking rescue as pool at Butlins exploded

A rescue act when a swimming pool exploded has been recalled by a former Butlins Redcoat in Bognor Regis.

Rocky Mason – the joint author of a new book about those in the world-famous red and white uniforms – scooped a young girl to safety when a wall of the pool shattered.

“The camp’s winter social club’s activities took place in the Regency building, which also housed the indoor swimming pool,” he said.

“This pool had 8ft by 6ft observation windows all round the sides and at the bottom of the pool above a quiet lounge.

“The windows formed part of the ceiling of this quiet lounge. One Sunday afternoon, one of these windows suddenly shattered and a deluge of water poured into the lounge.

“A number of people were in this lounge at the time. It was pandemonium and the noise of the cascading water was horrendous.

“The furniture in this lounge was lightweight and made of bamboo. It was bouncing up against the ceiling and adding to the panic.

“There was a girl trapped in the corner and I managed to get to her and carry her to safety. The young lady turned out to be the fire chief’s daughter.”

The emergency occurred in February 1961 when Rocky was 31. He had only recently become a Redcoat before he was promoted to the entertainment manager of the Bogor camp in 1965.

A brief spell away elsewhere in the Butlins empire ended with his return as the general manager of the Bognor winter club and lived in Canning Road, Felpham, where his daughter Sam was born in February 1968.

In all, Rocky worked for Butlins from 1957 until the closure of the Filey camp in 1983.

He has joined with fellow former Redcoat Frank McGroarty to write an unofficial special tribute to the ‘angels of the holiday camps’.

Here Comes The Roadcoats is their way of marking this year’s 75th anniversary of the opening of the first Butlins at Skegness.

Their book is packed with more than 200 archive images, memories of former Redcoats from around the UK as well as Redcoat Roll of Honour and a potted history of the camps and hotels.

Rocky, 79, who now lives in Bristol, said: “I feel this is ‘the book’ every former Redcoat, member of staff and camper has been waiting to read.

“In my view it is the book that just had to be written – to take everyone on that memorable, wonderful trip down the Butlins memory lane.”

* Here Come The Redcoats is published by Authorhouse UK priced £11.99.