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Bench unveiled to honour Shropshire adventure camp's founder

By Toby Neal | Craven Arms | News | Published:

Former staff and campers from a Shropshire adventure camp which was launched to give holidays in the countryside for deprived boys from the West Midlands have remembered the inspirational founder by unveiling a bench in his honour.

The bench unveiling ceremony near Church Stretton

The ceremony at the Longmynd Adventure Camp near Church Stretton was also attended by the daughters of Bill Williams, the rural police constable who held the first ever camp in 1958 in the garden of his home at Wistanstow, near Craven Arms.

Some lingered afterwards to relive the old times by playing camp games and enjoying a singalong around the camp fire.

Over 20 former staff members and campers, from the 1960s to the 1990s, were at the ceremony.

Former campers were behind the moves to show their appreciation and gratitude to Bill through installing the wooden memorial bench, with plaques attached.

Alan Scriven, of Penkridge, whose 33-year association with the camp began in 1965 as a schoolboy from an impoverished background in Wolverhampton, and who followed Bill as the "skipper" in charge of the camp, said: "The whole day went fantastically well.

"Prior to the ceremony a number of ex-campers and staff visited a couple of the camp's former sites in Minton.

"Former Bishop Richard Lewis performed the ceremony with compassion and informality. He also invited the guests to speak about their own memories of Bill, what he meant to them and how the camp had affected their lives in a very positive way.

"We ended the ceremony with a toast to Bill. Everyone was then given a meal of chicken curry and rice.

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"Following this, many of the guests departed due to the distance they had travelled. But for those of us still there we played a few of the old camp games before rounding off the day with a good old camp sing-song around the camp fire."

Attending the ceremony were Bill's daughters Ann Lewis of Harmer Hill and Debbie Bridge, from Shrewsbury.

Bill Williams died in 2013, aged 87.

The Longmynd Adventure Camp – in its title, Long Mynd is spelt as one word – was started to provide a camping holiday for deprived boys aged from 11 to 14, mainly from the Wolverhampton and Birmingham areas, although later its catchment area broadened.

The camp gained charitable status in 1973.

Longmynd Adventure Camp continues as a charity to this day, its stated primary aim to provide free or subsidised respite breaks for disadvantaged children, especially those that have never experienced the countryside before.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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