The 22nd was a relatively late arrival to the District, only being born in 1954. In the April of that year Alec Tomlin, a pre-war Scouter in Walthamstow, and having spent some time after the war in India, returned to the UK and settled in Finchley. The story is that he walked into St Paul’s Church in Long Lane and asked if there was a Scout Group. Upon being told ‘No’ he is said to have replied ‘Well, you have now’.
It perhaps should be mentioned at this point, that it was later discovered that there had previously been another 22nd Finchley. It was opened in 1949 and was connected to the Salvation Army but closed after 2 years. Census returns reveal that in the first year there were 10 Cubs with 2 leaders and the following year 7 Cubs with 1 leader.
Alec took the reins of the new Group as Group Scout Master (GSM) and Scoutmaster (SM), his wife Doris became the Akela and their two sons were the first members of the Pack. Word quickly spread round the District and more boys soon arrived including a small Cub called Martyn Daviss. The census figures for 1955 show that there were 36 Cubs and 22 Scouts.
The Church had two halls: the Scouts used the Front Hall and the Brownies and Guides met in the ‘Tin Shack’ at the back. The Pack met at 6.30pm and the Troop took over at 8pm. The Senior Scouts met in the small committee room at the back of the main hall.
Alec had great powers of persuasion and he soon had a committee to help him. Records show that there were several parents ready to help, especially in raising funds for general equipment, a flag and even a Trek Cart.
In 1955 Mr A Wrigley was appointed Scoutmaster and Michael Morgan became the Akela.
Over the Whitsun weekend in 1956 the Scouts held a camp at the District Camping Ground, sharing the site with two other Troops and two Cub Packs. Although they camped separately they came together for a camp fire on the Saturday evening and a Scouts’ Own on the Sunday morning.
As part of the Boy Scout Jubilee in 1957 most Groups in the District held an open meeting during February or March to allow the public to visit and to see what they did. The 22nd held one for the Cubs and one for the Scouts and on both occasions they joined forces with the 1st West Finchley Brownies and Guides.
In 1958, Charlie Webb, a Police Inspector, took over as SM, allowing Mr Wrigley to take over the Senior Section. At that time records show the Seniors to be Charlie Webb’s son, also Charlie, Brian Sturdy, Ian Brown and K Davies.
Around that time consideration was given to the purchase of flags and Alec reported that they were still using the ones found under the stage that had belonged to the previous 22nd Finchley.
Although the number of Cubs and Scouts had fallen slightly the number of Seniors had almost doubled.
The Scouts’ first summer camp took place in 1959 at Laverstoke in Hampshire. The site had been found purely by chance by Alec and was visited for many of the following years.
Several changes to the leadership took place in 1960. Charlie Webb had to resign as he had been promoted at work and also transferred. Vic Shewry was then recruited as a leader. Joan Kirk became the Akela when Michael Morgan left for Canada and Jill McNeill joined as an Assistant Cub leader, a position she held for several years until her marriage.
The big news of 1963 was that Martyn Daviss, who had been with the Group since it started, gained his Queen’s Scout Badge. Although he was first member of the Group to gain this award, he was followed shortly after by Alec Tomlin Jnr. who was presented with his certificate during a tenth anniversary open evening. On the same occasion his father was also presented with the Medal of Merit.
Another change took place the following year when Doug Attfield, an ex-Senior Scout, became the Senior Scoutmaster, a position he held until 1964 when he took over the Scout section and Vic became the Senior Scoutmaster.
In 1965 the Group suddenly lost its founder and GSM – Alec was asked by his firm to take up a position in the north of England and after much deliberation he accepted. It was a real blow for the Group to see him leave.
Fortunately a parent called Peter Price came to the rescue. Although he had no Scouting experience he learnt fast and ensured that the changes that took place within the Movement during 1966 and 1967 were put in place at the 22nd.
Early in 1966 three more Seniors gained their Queen’s Scout Badge. Robert, the son of Vic, was presented with his at the same time as Peter was presented with his warrant, and during a visit by Alec Tomlin. Ian Duff and Graham Tomlin were presented with their badges a little later by Derek Warren, the ADC for Senior Scouts.
When Doug Attfield moved away from Finchley and resigned in 1966 Martyn Daviss was appointed Scoutmaster.
At the same time a generous gift by Mrs Payne, grandmother to Ian and Malcolm Duff enabled the Group to purchase new flags which were dedicated at a unique and moving service in St Paul’s in July 1967.
With the demise of Senior Scouts and Rovers, and the creation of Venture Scouts, Vic Shewry decided it was time for him to retire. He did however resurface a couple of years later as the Group Chairman.
About the same time a casual visitor to the hall one evening introduced himself as Geoff Wright, an ex-Rover who had recently moved into the area. He said ‘Do you need any help?’ and before long he was installed as an Assistant Cub Scout Leader. It was the beginning of a very long association.
1968 saw the start of an amazing run of success at the swimming galas. For a while the Cubs were almost unbeatable, thanks mainly to the Wiseman and Hime boys and the others who lived close to, and regularly used, the Squires Lane swimming pool. Full details can be seen in the numerous press reports.
Towards the end of 1968 Peter Price was asked to become the Assistant District Commissioner for Scouts and his position was taken by John Simons. Peter was later to become the District Commissioner for Edmonton.
1969 saw the first break from the traditional summer camps at Laverstoke, when it was decided to venture further afield and a trip to the Channel Island of Guernsey was arranged. This was very successful despite the fact that some of the equipment was lost by British Rail on the return journey.
One snippet of interest was that during the late 60s and early 70s Cliff Richard was associated with St Paul’s and very occasionally he would pop into the hall and sit on the edge of the stage doing an impromptu singalong.
Records show that in 1970 Malcolm Duff and John Broomhall were helping with the Scout Troop, which numbered 37. Both of them were Queen’s Scouts, having gained the badge in short succession at the start of 1968. They had also represented the District at the National St. George’s Day Parade that year.
1970 also saw a Scout from the Group win the Gow Trophy. It was the fifth time someone from the Group had won it, but currently the names of the previous winners cannot be found. Charlie Broomhill was judged to have given the best log of a journey during the year for the 12 mile adventure test.
Eight months later Charlie and Peter Wolff gained the Chief Scout’s Award, the top award for Scouts.
By now Geoff Wright had become the Cub Scout Leader with a Pack of 24 boys, and in 1971 Martyn became the Leader of a newly formed Venture Scout Unit. He left the Troop to be run by Malcolm and John.
At the 1971 AGM it was announced that the Scouts had achieved a record number of nights of camping – 433.
In 1972 the first hint of a problem arose regarding the use of the Church Halls. The Church had been in financial difficulties for some time and they were considering selling the site. This placed the Group in a dilemma and it was realised that plans were needed to consider alternative accommodation. The saga, with many twists and turns, spanned more than ten years and involved the sale making progress and then stalling, and the Group paying for new heaters in the Hall as the Church refused to pay for repairs. But the biggest issue was for the Group to raise enough capital to acquire land and pay for a new Scout Hut. Mr & Mrs Duff, the parents of Ian and Malcolm were recruited and became the chief fund raisers.
After several attempts to acquire land the Group was finally offered a piece of allotment land adjoining the Sea Cadet Hall off Long Lane. The only advantage to the whole drawn out affair of the Hall sale and the Group finding land was that it had allowed time for more money to be raised.
While work had continued tirelessly behind the scenes the leaders needed to focus their attention on providing a good scouting programme for the boys.
During 1973 the Group were blessed with another leader. Ron Chalk and his family had moved to Finchley from Hornsey and he was soon assisting Geoff with the Cubs. However, towards the end of the year John Simons had to relinquish the position of GSL due to work commitments. Martyn Daviss, who had been with the Group in one capacity or another since 1954, took up the position while continuing to keep an eye on the Venture Unit.
1975 got off to a good start with the Cubs winning the Handcraft competition in February and the Scouts winning the Cross Country in March.
In April 1975 the Group held a Dinner and Dance at the Torrington Arms Hotel to mark their 21st anniversary. A total of 79 members and friends attended, including their founder Alec and his wife who had travelled down from Chester le Street in County Durham. The boys were not forgotten in all the celebrations and a special anniversary party was held for them at Frith Grange with a large birthday cake.
Success at another sporting event was achieved in early 1976 when the Group won the County Cyclo-Cross competition that was held at Tolmers Scout camp site, near Cuffley.
Summer camp in 1976 was a return visit to Mevagissey, having been there in 1973. The most notable fact though was the journey down to Cornwall. The idea was to drive down overnight and meet Wilf Hewitt with two German Scouts at the campsite in the morning. Ron’s minibus, nicknamed ‘The Blue Elephant’, took the camp kit and some Scouts. Another hired minibus took the rest of the Troop. Unfortunately the Blue Elephant broke down on the M3 just as they neared Fleet Services. After arranging a tow to the Services and discovering that one of the pistons had completely broken it was gone midnight. After spending the night sleeping in the minibuses, which was the plan anyway, Ron managed to get the use of a truck. The camping gear was transferred over but then there was a problem with the Scouts. In the end some of the older Scouts travelled on top of the kit. The other minibus followed behind while trying to keep an eye on the Scouts. Most of the journey was on main roads and no problems were encountered. They finally met up with Wilf who had been very concerned about what had kept them.
The Blue Elephant breaking down was not an unusual event. The previous year on the way back from the Rydal Hall camp in the Lake District it suffered a gearbox failure near Warrington. Ron drove it to a police pound and one of the officers put him in touch with a local Scout Group. They provided refreshments for the Scouts, moved the minibus and loaned them a van to get home – eventually returning to Finchley early the next morning.
During that year Martyn moved to Abbotts Langley in Herts but still undertook his GSL duties. There was however some strange looks when they went through Mevagissey to the camp duties. But, in 1977 he found it necessary to take a 6 month break to work on his new home. He returned in 1978 and remained until 1980 when the travelling became too much.
In 1977, in addition to the further success in the swimming gala there was more success at the Cross Country and the Scouts also won the 7-a-side football competition.
In 1978 the Venture Scouts restarted and in addition to Martyn’s return there was a reorganisation of the leaders. Malcolm became the leader of the Venture Scouts, moving from the Troop, Geoff Wright moved from Cub Scout Leader to running the Troop, and Ron Chalk moved up to Akela.
The Group was also fortunate in the support they received from the older members with Venture Scouts and ex Venture Scouts helping out in a variety of ways. In this connection Alan (Curly) Durrant became a very efficient quartermaster.
The Group’s 25th anniversary was celebrated in 1979, firstly by another Dinner and Dance at the Torrington Arms, that Alec and Doris Tomlin again came down from County Durham to attend, and secondly a family camp at Tolmers Scout campsite. Both events were a great success.
As the end of 1979 approached it was necessary for the Group to leave St Paul’s. Arrangements had been made for the Cubs and Scouts to temporarily meet at St Luke’s, the sister Church of St. Paul’s located in Mountfield Road. There had previously been a Scout Group (9th Finchley) there but it became defunct with the death of the very popular leader ‘Mac’ Caithness.
The Venture Scouts however, had found their own meeting place, a garage that they rented for £1 a week, and had christened ‘The Hanger’. The 7 strong Unit started to collect old newspapers to raise money as they planned to take part in a County expedition to Iceland. Their numbers grew to 9 and in 1981 the Unit was officially registered as the 22nd Finchley (Biggles) Venture Scout Unit.
In 1980 the Venture Scouts, along with Malcolm Duff, took part in Freeway 1980, a County Expedition to Iceland. However, they were not happy with the organisation so Malcolm hired a Land Rover and they broke away to explore the interior of the country. They also joined in with Freeway 1984 when the destination was Norway. Other Freeway events included activity weekends and on one occasion Malcolm and Geoff assisted at one in the Peak District when they ran an orienteering session in a wood outside Sheffield.
Also during 1980 both Ron and Jenny Chalk were awarded the Medal of Merit for Scouting in both Hornsey and Finchley. Andy Butcher became the GSL and Mark Waterhouse took over the quartermaster duties from Alan. The highlight though was that the Cubs and Scouts were able to return to St. Paul’s and met in the new hall that had been built within the Church.
Andy’s stint as the GSL did not last long as he resigned in 1983. Malcom Duff took over, emulating the feat of Martyn Daviss by going through the entire range of the Group from Cub to GSL. One of his first actions was to launch a recruitment campaign for Cubs in local schools which resulted in 10 new boys.
Venture Scouts and ex-Venture Scouts continued to assist with the other sections, in particular Trevor Sage with the Cubs and John Schmitt with the Scouts. John was also responsible for the construction of a float in the annual Finchley Carnival.
At Malcolm’s instigation a small group of members met to discuss the rebirth of a Supporters’ Club and John Schmitt agreed to take that forward. Before long there was a membership of 23.
The big news though of 1983 was that, after much wrangling, a lease had been granted and work could commence on preparing the site. The land needed clearing and ditches needed to be dug for the supply of water and electricity.
About the same time the Venture Scouts lost the use of ‘The Hanger’ and this was replaced by acquiring a pre-fabricated garage which was erected on the HQ site.
After further issues relating to building regulations has been resolved, the building work finally commenced in 1985.
More to follow, covering the period from 1985 until the Group closed.
Alec worked for Thomas de la Rue the banknote printers and he had a contact with Portals who provided the special paper from their Laverstoke Mill near Overton in Hampshire. Alec happened to mention one day (in 1959) that his Scout Group was looking for a camp site and one of the Directors of Portals said that he would be happy to offer a field on his private Estate. The offer was accepted with alacrity and many happy years were spent there. The only stipulation was that the boys were barred from fishing for Trout in the River Test which ran through the Estate, but otherwise they had the freedom of the area. Apart from one occasion when horses got into the field and ate some of the stores there were no problems – they even made fires and caught skinned and cooked rabbits. A highlight was always a day trip to Winchester by bus – at least it enabled the leaders to have a civilised meal.
Vic Shewry – 22nd Finchley
(Taken from his short history of the Group, written 1985)
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In 1977 when it became more and more likely that we would need to move out of the Church Hall I offered to let the Group store the camping equipment in my garage. The first step was to build a system of racks which was done by Curly, Mark, myself and Simon Smith. We were so proud of our work that we made a wooden sign with our engraved initials and attached it to the racks.
I believe the racks eventually found their way to the new HQ, along with the sign still attached.
I also have many memories of the 1969 Guernsey camp. But perhaps one was that we let the scouts pack any extra personal kit in with the Troop kit that was to come back separately. When some bits of this kit got delayed there was one scout in particular (Derek Barrett) who was most exercised about losing his stuff. We told him that it was all insured, but his concern became clearer when he admitted that he had invested his pocket money in cigarette lighters that he planned on selling at a profit (this won’t surprise anyone who knew Derek). Neither the chemical toilet nor his lighters ever made their way back to Finchley.
Geoff Wright – 22nd Finchley
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I joined the 22nd in 1971, I didn’t go through cubs but joined the troop directly as a friend of mine, Simon Smith, was in the 22nd. I rose through the ranks to become Patrol Leader of The Panther Patrol, Mark Waterhouse being the Assistant Patrol Leader. I think I only attended one summer camp my entire time at the 22nd as a scout, as my family spent every summer in Italy (I’m half Italian). As an older scout and then a Venture Scout, I much appreciated the many trips to North Wales and other places, camping and hiking through the mountains. This was almost entirely down to Malcom Duff, his Austin Maxi, and his unstinting commitment to the 22nd and us misfits!
In 1980, The Venture Scout Unit, led by Malcolm, took part in Freeway 1980, a County trip to Iceland. The Unit (Christened ‘Biggles’) raised the money to go doing all sorts of jobs including painting the doctor surgery in Squires Lane. Once on the trip, we realised the County hadn’t done a great job frankly, and Malcolm, again, stepped up to the plate and hired a land rover for us to go on a ten-day trip into the interior of Iceland. What an adventure!
And so, my time at this point with the 22nd was spent at Frith Grange crewing, helping with scouts and cub camps, quarter mastering and fund raising, every single week there were multiple events, activities and meetings – the monthly scrap paper collections being a particular ‘strain’!
In 1984 I moved to Norwich for work, but stayed in touch and occasional activities with the 22nd. In that same year, another Freeway, this time to Norway, and a somewhat better organised trip, again, thanks to Malcolm, we had a most fantastic time!
In 1987 I returned to London for work, and re-joined the 22nd as Venture Scout Leader, with Richard Hime and Virginia Seaman as assistants. We organised various activities, with trips away and film making (which seemed to be their favourite activity!). Upon return, I saw how much more effort was going into fund-raising and work parties at the new hall off Long Lane. This activity sucked a great deal of energy from a small band of people, again, Malcolm driving forward the work.
Also, in 1987, I instigated the ‘The Flintstones Climbing Club’, affiliated to the 22nd. Many old boys from the 22nd joined, including Martin, Richard and Simon Hime, John Schmidt, Malcolm Duff and others. We went on many regular climbing trips, and during one year, I logged 87 days on crag and mountain!
In 1988, Mark Waterhouse (now with the 2nd Edgware), myself and a small group of leaders, organised a County Freeway event to The Italian Dolomites. It was another great trip, camping on my dad’s land in Italy.
Around 1989/90 I decide to hang up my scarf and leave the 22nd to pursue a career, but I still remember fondly the lifelong friends I made in the 22nd and an appreciation for the commitment made by the leaders, principle Malcom Duff and Geoff Wright who made such a positive impression on me and other lads.
Alan Durrant (Curly) – 22nd Finchley
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There are many special memories I have about the 22nd Finchley, starting from when I first joined as a Cub in 1968 right through to my time as a Venture Scout.
I joined at the same time as my friend Mark Waterhouse who was a neighbour across the road and remember Geoff Wright calling in one evening for an introductory discussion with my mother.
I have only three distinct memories of Pack and District activities. Firstly the Scout swimming competition, where I was the Cub in the Group team relay, the Cub leg generally being the weakest link in the team – not sure how many times I participated as the Cub, and when we started our run of wins. I think Mario Diaz, a reasonable swimmer, was the Venture Scout during most of the earlier years.
Then there was Cub Sports Day at the sports ground along Summers Lane with the knot relay where a team of 4 had about a 25 yard run to a stake with a piece of string and needed to tie four different knots. I took the last leg having been taught by Geoff to tie a bowline with one hand by a clever sequence of twisting the wrist. Our team was fast and I was first to the stake, tied my bowline and then as required, as part of the show piece, leant back on the line of rope, only for one of the knots to fail. I remember being lambasted for leaning back too hard.
Last was that Mark, I and two others were the first in the District to achieve the newly created map making badge over 4 weeks. It required us to cut and use polystyrene to make contours and other features from a section of an OS map.
I moved up to the Scouts in summer 1972 and had the opportunity of going on summer camp that year to Wales. Feeling a bit intimidated and with most of my close friends not going, I declined.
I believe my first PL was Chris Martin although can’t remember the name of the patrol. When Malcom took over the Troop he reorganised the patrols and the PLs/APLs choose 4 new names – Falcons, Buffalos, Panthers and Bulldogs. I joined the Falcons as APL with Trevor Sage (Mr Purple as he always wore purple shirts and cords and who ended up cleaning holocaust plaques in Poland) as PL.
We were very fortunate to have Malcolm and Geoff as two of our leaders. Geoff, an expert map reader, would join a lot of the Scout weekend activities, and they were always game for constant activities, which included a lot of weekends walking and camping in Wales and Lakes at any time of year.
We would always actively compete as a troop in District competitions. I remember having great loyalty to the 22nd as it always seemed that we were up against much larger troops with bigger and stronger boys.
Here are some of the more memorable events, activities and occasions:
Handball: (not the modern international version which where one dribbles like basketball and then throws the ball into a small football goal) – Scouts’ handball was the 4 in a team back breaking, knuckle bruising game of playing the ball on the floor more like football but with hand only. It was a really well liked sport and we competed inter Patrol and in the District. The Troop team was made up of the older bigger boys – Mark in goal, Alan, Simon Smith, and me with a sub. Simon the centre forward would charge and aim to score with his first hit after the whistle. We would always put up a good fight and made the semis, maybe only won the competition once. 15th Finchley and 3rd Golders Green always seemed to have much older boys. The competition was generally hosted by 11th or 15th Finchley.
Swimming Galas: My brothers (Simon and Richard) and I were fortunate in that we were very good, and along with Paul & David Wiseman and a few others, managed to win several events. The Group team relay was always enjoyable but unfortunately the age gap between my brothers was never big enough to allow a ‘Hime’ team. One year we recruited Curly to swim the Venture Scout leg and even handed over a considerable lead when he entered the water. But, apparently he had problems with his trunks and he had to use one hand to hold them up. We did win but all Curly could say was ‘It was a very exciting race’. The other thing about the gala was the Bovril provided at the end of the competition – those were the days.
Cyclo-cross: I remember that it was too muddy to cycle much so ran pushing bike most of the way. There was a large depression that everyone just slung their bikes down and hoped to pick up a still working and complete bike at the bottom. As well as Alan having a broom stick saddle, his other bright idea was not to have any tyres or inners to avoid punctures. In Malcolm’s van we all thought that a good idea until warming up before the race he realised it was virtually impossible to cycle as the wheels just sank into ground and got stuck. It was pretty astute of the organisers to have a separate race for those with ‘choppers’. A great aesthetically pleasing bike, but it was way too heavy with poor handling for anything other than riding on flat roads, and too expensive for the typical Scout.
Church Parades: Once a month we met at Oakfield Road and then formally paraded to St Paul’s Church with the flags and sat through the family service. We hated it most of the time but patrol points were awarded for attendance and there was a cup of tea after. There was always one amusing moment as one of the older Scouts, he and only he, would always answer correctly the vicar’s questions to the congregation. It was impressive. Another memorable parade was the District St George’s Day Parade when all the troops formed up in Northway to march together to St Jude’s Church next to Henrietta Barnet school. Whilst waiting the 11th marched past to wolf whistles and John decided to show us his highland dancing, accidentally kicking and breaking our flag pole in the process. Fortunately Geoff pulled out his pocket knife and did a temporary fix so long as the flag was carried carefully. I was the flag bearer.
Ad hoc camps: One Wales trip in the summer involved climbing Snowdon, which we had climbed many times before, but instead of walking down an established route we screed down the west slope. We flew down, best screeing ever, despite shouts from people claiming rock were tumbling onto the footpath below. It was our fastest ever descent, but never repeated. But, one of the best ad hoc camps I remember was when Malcolm / Geoff decided on the spur of the moment to camp at Frith Grange. No activities planned and we just hung around doing things with games in the spinney. I remember it was one of the only occasions that Malcolm and Geoff cooked for everyone, with the boys washing up.
New Year Camps: For a least 2 years, some of the older Scouts – Trevor, Alan, Mark, John, Raj and I – would camp at Tolmers to see in the New Year going up a few days before via Ron (for a small fee) and being picked up 2/3 Jan. We messed around in the grounds of Tolmers, a great camp site, walked the mile or so into the village for breakfast and were introduced to the delights and dislikes of Pomagne (I couldn’t touch cider for 20 years after). On one occasion another Troop were there in the huts rather than tents, I think 3rd Golders Green, and they came over one evening when we were playing cards. One of them challenged us to a proper card game – Brag, I hadn’t heard it, but Alan casually accepted. The stakes were very high: 5p pieces, don’t where we got all the coins from. The memorable final hand was an intense affair, no one spoke as the pot kept creeping higher, there was over a £1. When “see you” was finally called, Alan had a prile and won. Another great and brave win for the 22nd.
Friday Nights: most of those who lived near the south part of Long Lane would finish the night with chips and chat outside the local fish and chip shop. We were always in uniform but there was never any trouble with other boys. One winter with us all wrapped up in our Parkas a skinhead walked past in just an open cardigan, nothing underneath and Alan said, far too loud for our liking, “Bet he’s hard”.
Summer Camps: I have lots of memories from all the camps but will limit them to just a few highlights. 1973 (Mevagissey) We camped in a farmer’s field and we had to use water from a well. Simon Smith was so taken with it that he took some home for his mother to drink. 1974 (Guernsey) Gache (pronounced gosh), a fruit loaf, and tea, became a favourite when out for the day. Chris Martin and Bobby Mukherjee were the only two Venture Scouts at that time and were camp helpers. 1975 (Rydal Hall, Lakes) My first camp as a Patrol Leader, and as such I was involved with a pre camp inspection of the proposed site and during that trip I was introduced to a pub lunch (my first ploughman’s). For the cooking competition during the actual camp I did Toad in the Hole in a large Billie. It was excellent but did not win as some of the bottom was burnt. Malcolm and Geoff also introduced us to the benefits of a cup of hot tea when the weather was hot. 1976 (Mevagissey) Who can forget the journey down as reported elsewhere. 1977 (Nottingham) When there someone referred to as ‘the mad axe man’ had escaped from the local prison and we saw the police searching the woods nearby. It added spice to the night wide games. I left camp early to join my school rugby training week.
When I reached Venture Scout age there was enough of us to form our own Unit. Again plenty of memories but I’d like to add a bit about Freeway 1980. Apart from the trip being hugely improved by Malcolm hiring a Land Rover for us to tour the island, I remember: none of the geysers were fenced off and we had great fun visiting all the main ones and playing ‘chicken’, the off licences only opened at the weekend with long queues outside and many of the inland roads needed fording. Most worthy of mention though is that we climbed Hekla, and we all asked Malcolm why it was smoking, and I think his answer was volcanos always smoke. It had a major eruption on 17th August 1980 a week or two after we climbed it.
Expedition Competition: The District had an expedition competition and so we (Alan, Mark, Raj and I) decided to enter it in 1978 and our expedition was to walk Offa’s Duke the length of Wales. Raj’s father took us and bought us breakfast at Severn Bridge services when some bright spark suggested we start the walk by walking across the Severn Bridge. This took us most of the day. The walk finished by us paddling in the sea at Prestatyn. For the competition we prepared an innovative audio visual display by recording on a reel to reel tape our adventure with accompanying music with a manual slide show with technical assistance of Simon Smith. It was great fun but despite our walk and presentation being far more interesting and entertaining than others teams we never won which we were hugely disappointed about.
Martin Hime – 22nd Finchley
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My first introduction to Cubs was when Martin Hime took me along one evening, I remember him telling me the first night the new boys always get a bit of a ‘kicking’ all in good humour of course.
From Cubs to Scouts in the Panther Patrol. One evening was rope skills climbing up a rope attached to the beam in the church hall, when it came to taking it down, I remember Martyn Daviss unceremoniously crashing to the floor. Scout summer camps were always a highlight of the year, the incident of John Schmidt’s cooking competition dinner disappearing into the wet-pit, the unsolved mystery of the holiday plates that never made it to the Hime family home and who can forget Mevagissey when the minibus broke down at Fleet and there was not enough space in the hire vehicle for most of the kit and the four patrol leaders, problem solved put the kit on a flatbed truck and tie the patrol leaders on top of the kit along with Curly’s sound system which played Beatles all the way to Cornwall. The Scout Cyclo-cross should not go without a mention, on route to Cuffley Curly’s saddle disappeared and he completed the event sitting on a broom head borrowed from the campsite crew.
Venture Scouts, how did we have time for anything else, as Curly said thanks to Malcolm giving up so much of his time, we were giving so many opportunities to get away on mini and full-on adventures. During ‘O’ level year for most of us Curly, Martin, Raj and I walked Offa’s Dyke long distance footpath, we walked across the Severn Bridge to start the journey in Chepstow. Cycle trip around the New Forest in preparation for two weeks cycling through Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium along the Rhine and Moselle, happily it was the season for wine festivals, a lot of them. The big County camps of Iceland and Norway were highlights which of course we carved out in our own individual way.
During Scouts and Venture Scouts, I was part of the 22nd Finchley crew that looked after Frith Grange once a month, Curly and I seemed to spend a fair bit of the summer working at Frith looking after international Scouts and moving mountains of tarmac for the new car park.
Scouting has provided me with so many life skills and friendships, friends that I still see now. I am still involved in Scouting, helping out at the Ridgeway Scout Group in the Chilterns teaching cycling and navigation skills. I am also part of the committee for the GLN Scout County Southern 50 Challenge and plan the event routes.
Mark Waterhouse – 22nd Finchley / 2nd Edgware / GLN Scout County Southern 50 Challenge
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