This was a time of my life when I made new friends. I had always had a fear of disabled people ( I don't know why ) but then Gene Pack sat with me and told me that people with disabilities were no different to me or anyone else and that they need friends too. And I found this to be true and I can honestly say that from that first camp my eyes had been opened and I made friends with lots of adults and children. My fondest memories are of Philip and Terry Smith two brothers with Muscular Dystrophy; we become instant friends. I well remember helping with them.
My mind has been swirling with memories of both the 1967 and 1968 camps when I was just a young boy. I have not forgotten that the first was Alton in Hampshire and the second was at Sharpness in Gloucester.
At the time I was an able bodied person but now I am disabled myself and I realise what people with disabilities go through.
Even fifty years on things have in my opinion changed very little.
My eyes were opened by PHABCAMPS and Gene Pack, who referred me, towards all people. I absolutely loved the two camps that I went on and they instilled values in me for later life that I have passed on to my son.
As your email says this was an experiment and even if it had just been myself or the others who went on that very first camp who had taken something away from this, then I would say that it was a SUCCESS and we all learnt a fantastic lesson for life. The fact that it's continued and done this for so many more is fantastic.
In terms of the 1967 camp, the whole time was a happy one of making friends. The venue we stayed at was fantastic ? the house and grounds I had never seen the likes of. I remember a group of us walking down to the village (I think it was Bob Heath who was with us) to have tea with a local lady. As we come into the village her house was on the left hand side. She was very gracious to us and her daughter was helping with the tea; that is all I can remember on this.
I do remember going to the motor museum at Beaulieu ? this was brilliant and as usual I was pushing Philip in his chair with Terry not far behind us. We had a brilliant day out and talked about it late into the evening.
We used to have a sing song on the evenings. We all had a good time and we was very sad when the time came to go home and I thought I would never see Philip and Terry again but I was wrong ? Gene Pack used to take me to see them when he had the time.
1968 was at Sharpness I am not so sure but it might have been a Ministry of Defence camp? It had an assault course and huts that we slept in. I do remember that we went on the rifle range and that that I came out top ? I was presented with a little plastic cup trophy on the evening. It was the first thing that I had ever won I was over the moon.
We also went on an assault course and I do remember getting very dirty.
Also present on both camps was Lorraine Minchin. We were the best of friends and sat next to each other at school (this was puppy love) and this was also a fond memory for me. It's fantastic you have photos of us from the camps.
Thank you for the memory jog to you all at PHAB!
Michael (MIKE) Green.
Castle Vale Birmingham
Tony Gray, who was present on both camps as a volunteer, well recalls Michael in an interview he gave in January 2017:
“Michael Green was a very nice young man. He was giving all the time, making friends, looking for things he could do – in many ways doing the job of a volunteer, certainly in the sense that he was talking to and interacting with everyone. Really, as volunteers we’ re there as facilitators not to form friendships with the kids ourselves but to support them to befriend each other and he did that without any prompting at all. Yeah he was generous spirited and had a good sense of humour.”