75th Birthday Celebration

In September, Weston Green Scout Group celebrated its 75th birthday with a service of Thanksgiving at All Saints Church.  The serviced was attended by present day Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers and it was wonderful to be joined by so many Scouts from yesteryear,  Rev. Phillip Johnson gave an entertaining sermon and the rousing hymns were sung with typical campfire gusto.  Guests were treated to food and drink after the service with a chance to mingle around the campfire that had been lit in the church carpark.

The group was set up by Rev. Matthews, the vicar of All Saints Church, and whilst the church links remain strong, a lot has changed since the group was formed in 1942.  It was a difficult time for local residents, including those involved in Scouting.  During a meeting in March 1944, a bombing raid took place and the Troop vacated to Ditton Common to continue the meeting.  Sadly, the raid caused significant damage to the building and they were forced to hold meetings elsewhere.

In May 1944, eight Cubs moved up to the newly formed 1st Weston Green Scout Troop but meetings were suspended the following month when local children were evacuated.  Later that year, the Acting Scout Master, George Stooley, was drafted away and nothing more was heard of him.  Poignantly, his last comment in the log was "I hope to see them (the troop) after the war".

In 1954, the Cubs went on their first Cub Camp to Polyapes and the trip is diarised in glorious detail with photographs, pencil drawings and even a receipt from J Simmons & Sons for 16 Hot Cross Buns.  One highlight of the weekend was around the campfire when the warden of Poloyapes declared the fire open by throwing "a can of 'magic firewater' over the flames which exploded into a huge flame about 15 feet high and almost electrified the Cubs".  Different times!

We are blessed that the group has kept such fantastic records - many written in beautiful copperplate handwriting in leather bound journals.  These throw a fascinating spotlight on the details of the group at the time.  The annual dinner seemed very important in the late 1950's, meeting notes record, "It was the general feeling that if possible the dinner should be a more 'classy do' then the last one, and after much discussion the following menu was drawn up - soup and rolls followed by Spaghetti Bolognese, cheese and biscuits and coffee".

The following year, a rather heated discussion in the form of the stay in the Lake District took place,  Paul stated that he did not want to be held up by the rather younger and smaller members of the group while Alan stated that he did not intend the weekend to be a "route march with people telling him to hurry up all the time".  It continues to say that the meeting ended with a game of hand-ball so hopefully the men buried their differences!

Sporting contests to close meetings proved popular.  In October 1960, "after playing indoor cricket with the aid of improvised jumble for a bat and ball for a good half hour, the meeting was abandoned until November".  A highlight for the group was a visit by Lord Baden-Powell's grandson in 1975.  What an honour!

1st Weston Green Scout Group is currently thriving with Explorer Scouts (14-18 years old) for the first time in 8 years.  The children are lucky to be able to take part in many different activities and camps - though sadly the two week trip to Norway the Scouts enjoyed in 1959 hasn't been reinstated!  

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Carole Needham,
15 Feb 2018, 08:21
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