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What Happened To:
Graham Bonewell
The two years I spent at Tonfanau were mixed with the usual ups and downs but undoubtedly played an important part in my short and varied career in the military as well as my future in civilian life.
My dislike of school did not get me off to a particular good start but to its credit the army education system helped me catch up to reasonable standard but it was the outdoor activities and sports, gymnastics in particular that I enjoyed most and also rock climbing which came in handy with one of my future postings.
On leaving Tonfanau I went to the Army School of Military Transport at Yeovil in Somerset were I completed my training as a Driver Mechanic. I then applied for training as an air dispatcher and was posted to RAF Tangmear. After completing the air dispatchers' course I was posted to RAF Benson to practice my newfound skills where unfortunately some well meaning medic decided to test my eyesight and discovered that I was colour blind and therefore not suitable for the role of an air dispatcher, cobblers!
I spend the next three months on secondments to the Army School of Catering as a driver and then on to RAF Odiham to act as training fodder for helicopter pilots! They would take off with12 of us on board circle back into the hover and we would slide down ropes or jump out after which he would circle around and come and picked us up again. This went on for three weeks until my posting to 24 Field Ambulance (Air Transportable) in Aden based at Falaise camp the other side of the causeway and the BP refinery. I was promoted to lance corporal almost as soon as I arrived with AAJLR being quoted as one of the reasons for the promotion, it didn't make me the most popular new kid on the block but they soon got over it.
One of my first responsibilities was to lead a small Patrol over the Jebels behind the camp. It was all razor sharp rocks and apart from myself there were three other 18 year olds and what a sight we must have looked. I'm not sure what we would have done had we met anyone remotely sinister looking.
I remained there until the withdrawal of the British Army in 67 and went back to the UK in midwinter arriving at Plasterdown camp on Dartmoor. I transferred to the Royal Army Dental Corps and started by training as a dental nurse followed by a course in dental radiography in which capacity I worked both Aldershot North and South before being posted to Musgrave Park hospital Belfast where I was based at the Royal Irish Rangers depot Ballymena. Once again the AAJLR came into play when one of the training officers was told I had some climbing experience and asked if I would assist with their adventure Training which I did but only twice as my military career came to an abrupt end following a family tragedy in 1969.
I did a couple of temp jobs and a four year stint with a Hull based company Status until 1974 when I joined another Hull based company The Asbestos and Rubber Co now better known as ARCO. I started on the sales desk in the Hull branch rising to assistant branch manager. In 1988 I was appointed branch manager of a green field's site in Chandlers Ford, Hampshire and if ever team skills learnt in the AAJLR came in useful that was it. With my wife Joan and our two daughters deposited in our new home in the New Forest I left them to it while I came to terms with turning a building site into a trading branch ASAP. Mission accomplished ARCO Wessex opened on the 1st March 1989. I was appointed branch director and then offered the roll as regional development director for the south. At its peak this included branches at Bury St. Edmunds, Watford, Orpington, Chandlers Ford, Avonmouth and Plymouth and development work for South Wales.
They say all good things must come to an end and in 2002 I suffered a couple of major health set backs which though treatable were progressive and in 2007 I retired after 33 years. Joan and I now lead as full and active a life as my health permits and we have two wonderful granddaughters to keep us on our toes. I have been heavily involved in Rotary International over a number of years and a new interest which I am passionate about is The Jubilee Sailing Trust.
One thing for certain is that my attitude to life in all its facets has its roots deep in THE PLACE OF THE WAVES.
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