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A Blast from the Past



Published: Sun 10 Apr 2022

We recently heard from one of our founding members - Keith Vickery.

Keith writes:

"In an idle moment at my computer, I thought about orienteering and decided to see if the name 'quantock orienteers' would find any results.

"To my delight, I see that you not only still exist, but are thriving.

"I was also flattered to see that I rated a mention in the early history section. I did indeed take my family to Australia for a few years, where we joined the Victorian Orienteering Association and enjoyed their competitions. I returned from Melbourne in 1980 and lived near Reading, the Thames valley seemed to be an area where my computer skills were in demand. After retiring, my wife and I have moved to Chippenham where we are close to my two daughters and 6 grandchildren.

"I was attracted to the idea of orienteering from a mountaineers perspective, regarding it as a valuable navigation exercise, but did get involved in the competitive aspect as well. ( just not all that successful!) I lay claim to having organised, possibly, the first orienteering competition held in the South West. It was before the Quantock Orienteers started, held for just members of the Red Slab Club, in Quantock great wood (without permission of the owners, no idea who that was!) I used (illegally) photocopied maps of the course and made hand-painted markers on hardboard squares. I think it was six of our members who took part and was won by Dennis Pollard, who later became my brother-in-law. I think this got a mention in the County Gazette ( I had a contact with one of their reporters) and prompted Dave Livsey to get into contact with me, about forming a club.

"I do remember Dave remarking that on one occasion he was quite frustrated by passing me a few times in an event, while I was strolling along in my heavy mountain boots, only to find that although he was higher up the results list that me it was not by very much. I did not mention to him that I did indulge in a gentle trot now and then, if it was downhill.

"I later did buy myself some running shoes and therefore had to make some pretence of running, but found that it still did not make me faster than Dave. I think that in the balance between 'cunning' and 'running' what I gained in one I lost in the other.

"One vivid memory comes to mind. I once surveyed a wood, on the eastern fringes of Exmoor I think, with a view to using it for a competition. Whilst trotting down a wooded slope I jumped over a low bush and landed on what I initially thought was a pile of decomposing newspaper. Wrong! It was a wasp nest. The air around me was suddenly full of little striped fiends, I really started running then, after about 50 metres I realised that I was carrying a few of them inside my shirt. I have never taken a shirt off as quickly in my life. About a dozen stings made me a lot more careful after that.

"Enough of my ramblings, wishing you all the best for the club's future success."