Obituary: Freddie Fuller

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The Independent Online
John Frederick Fuller, merchant naval officer and instructor: born Sunderland 8 December 1911; Warden, Outward Bound School, Aberdyfi 1945-70; married (one daughter); died Tywyn 26 February 1993.

FREDDIE FULLER was a key figure in shaping the Outward Bound Trust, both in the UK and overseas.

Born in Sunderland, Freddie Fuller went to sea at 14. He gained his master's ticket working for Alfred Holt & Company, sailing out of Liverpool. In August 1942 his ship, MV Medon, was torpedoed in the South Atlantic, and for the next five weeks he was responsible for a lifeboat crew of 16, and survived through a further torpedo attack and two rescues. He was appointed MBE for his courage and leadership in preserving the lives of each of his men.

One year later Fuller was seconded by Alfred Holt to work as an instructor at the fledgling Outward Bound Sea School at Aberdyfi. The original purpose of what was to become the international Outward Bound movement was to help young merchant seamen survive wartime torpedo attacks in the icy waters of the Atlantic. No person was better qualified to fulfil this role. Fuller was a living example of the practicality of such training, and came to embody the whole spirit of the Outward Bound organisation, espousing the importance of teamwork and personal development for increased confidence and commitment.

For the next quarter-century, Fuller's influence on thousands of young people throughout the UK and many other parts of the world was directly attributable to his vision and inspiration. His gifts were prodigious: he constantly strove - and strove successfully - to find new ways and new strategies to realise true potential; he managed always to get the best out of people.

Across the Atlantic he made a significant contribution to the transplantation of Outward Bound to the US and was subsequently asked by President John F. Kennedy to assist in creating the Peace Corps in the United States. While tailoring the first training courses for the Corps in Puerto Rico, Fuller saw the success and enthusiasm with which volunteers tackled the challenges of an urban environment.

This idea was brought back across the Atlantic to become City Challenge, where Outward Bound tasks just as demanding as those posed by mountains and the sea were set in the inner cities. Today, another quarter-century later, City Challenge still thrives in the UK and has spread to northern Europe and back to the US with Outward Bound Education Centres established in both New York and Boston.

Fuller officially retired from the Outward Bound organisation in 1970, but soon after was asked by the Home Office to organise and run a reception camp for Asian refugees fleeing Uganda. Once again he was successful in enabling people to face the challenges of a new environment.

Subsequently, in his mid-sixties, he became superintendent of the Tywyn Swimming Baths and brought his passion and expertise for water confidence and survival swimming to a whole new generation of young people.

Within the last few years he was honoured on both sides of the Atlantic for his contributions to Outward Bound International. The Board of Trustees of Outward Bound USA presented him with their Kurt Hahn Outward Bound Award, and his 80th year coincided with the celebration of Outward Bound's 50th anniversary International Conference in Aberdyfi where Fuller's great influence on the world-wide organisation was recognised and feted.

Throughout his life he found time for significant volunteer work with a number of national and local organisations and, as a committed Christian, served as a lay preacher for 25 years and as a member of the governing body of the Church of Wales. All who knew him must still be empowered by his enthusiasm.

(Photograph omitted)