Each time I travel back home and see Newcastle, although originally from Ballymena, I think to the time I visited there as a humble little Boy Scout - but left a news-headline.
Our Scout troop came to camp, then hike around the Mournes. The day started off OK, but the mist came down, the drizzly rain started - and we continued on our hike. After doing a complete circuit twice - because we had lost our way, it was then that my bronchitis decided to kick in and add to our worries. Next thing I was left in a sleeping bag with a couple of the other scouts whilst the leader and the remainder of the group went to get help. After lying in the rain, for what seemed to be, forever - those of us still on the slopes of Slieve Donard began to walk to the road - only to meet the rescue party on the way up. The comments were choice. Next thing a couple of us were being whizzed through Newcastle on our way to Downpatrick for a night in the hospital.
Although my mum was well aware of where I was, my dad wasn't. That was until he took a call at Ballymena police station where he had been on duty, to call at a home in Harryville to speak with the parents of a lad who had just been admitted to hospital. The story goes that my dad arrived at the house to ask my mum where I was. She replied that I was in Newcastle, to which my dad added that I wasn't, I had been taken to Downpatrick hospital.
After a night's rest, and as much toast as I could manage. I was given the all clear to return home. Fame didn't come at no expense, as I was to find out on my return to school after the holidays. One day I will do that walk again, but preferably not ending up in Downpatrick again - or at least not the hospital !
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