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Emotional reunion for former Redcoat from Bagillt

Published date: 09 July 2014 |
Published by: Jamie Nield-Siddall 
Read more articles by Jamie Nield-Siddall  Email reporter


 

A PENSIONER got to dust off his famous Redcoat as he was reunited with a former holiday camp colleague after more than half-a-century.

Entertainer Russell Rees-Davies, of Sandy Lane, Bagillt, worked as a Redcoat at Butlin’s in Pwllheli on the Llyn Peninsula in the 1960s.

The charismatic 80-year-old, a well-established animal impressionist, was a firm favourite at the holiday resort synonymous with donkey derbies, glamorous grannies and knobbly knees competitions.

And more than half a century after his hospitality stint, Mr Rees-Davies donned the iconic Redcoat one again as he met with former colleagues at a holiday camp reunion.

He visited Sand Bay holiday camp in Weston-Super-Mare for a Redcoat reunion and at last met with former colleague and fellow entertainer Selwyn Bowen, who he hadn’t seen since his time in Butlins more than 50 years ago.

He said: “It was a gathering mostly of Redcoats who worked on Barry Island, but I knew Selwyn was going.

“It was excellent to meet up with him for the first time in 51 years.

“We worked together and the last time we saw each other was in 1963. It was just amazing.”

Father-of-two Mr Rees-Davies said it was an emotional experience for some ex-Butlin’s employees, with the occasion bringing tears to peoples’ eyes as they reminisced about the past.

“When it is the main reunion in October we stay in a hotel,” he told the Leader.

“But this time we stayed in chalets similar to the ones we used to stay in.

“It brought tears to many peoples’ eyes. It was tremendous.”

Mr Rees-Davies, who was a farmer and shoe shop assistant before becoming a Redcoat, added: “We all had a whale of a time.

“It was non-stop laughter and wonderful stories among a group of witty people.

“Many members showed they still had their talents as they sang along on the karaoke.”

Mr Rees-Davies has made a number of television appearances, including twice featuring on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and The Paul O’Grady Show for his animal impressions.

He has now been booked as the entertainment for the main Redcoat reunion in October.

He will be putting on a show for the crowd with his animal impressions – which has also seen him appear on television in America and Thailand.

Mr Rees-Davies, who has been married to wife Irene for 47 years and worked as an agricultural sales man after hanging up his Redcoat, will also play his ukulele during the October reunion.

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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