23rd Finchley

Towards the end of 1950 District approval was given to start a new Troop at the Methodist Church, Ballards Lane. They were given the title 23rd Finchley and started life as just a Cub Pack. The driving force behind this was James Eric Garside; known as Eric because he did not like the name James.

Eric was born in Manchester and was a Scouter in 1928. He met his wife Ada, who was a Guider, through their connection with the local Methodist Church, and in the late 1930s moved to London, when Eric was appointed a lecturer in chemistry at what was then the Northampton Polytechnic (later to become City University).

In about 1949/50 they moved, with their two sons, John & Richard, to North Finchley and became members of the Methodist Church there. 

Eric was presented with his Cub Master’s warrant during a meeting on the 21st February 1951. The colour of their scarf was Scout green, and by the time of the census at the end of March there were 16 Cubs and 4 leaders. The names of the other leaders are believed to be Ann Smart, David Johnson and Sheila Brown although Sheila’s tenure was short-lived as she went to the USA.

In November approval was given to start a Troop. Eric became the Group Scout Master, and Richard Oram and Stephen Gardner were recruited as ASM and CM respectively. Numbers grew quickly and by the end of March 1952 there were 13 Scouts and 25 Cubs.

Unfortunately there is no information about the Group during the following year apart from the addition of another ACM; Michael Flower. Although there were still 13 Scouts at the next census the number of Cubs had increased to 35.

At the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on the 2nd June 1953, Arthur Kinder, an ASM, together with Philip Secker, M Gardner and J Millman, three Scouts from the Troop, were chosen as part of the Finchley contingent to sell official programmes along the procession route.

Later in 1953 Philip Secker gained his Queen’s Scout Badge, the first member of the Group to do so. The following year he became an ASM.

The census figures at the end of March were impressive with the number of Cubs being 36 and the number of Scouts increasing to 23.

Despite the Group doing well and with the addition of more ACMs – Joan Buckingham, John Mawson and Helen Welsh, no other information about the Group has been found.

Group figures remained strong over the next year but unfortunately Eric decided to resign as the GSM. The District was disappointed to learn of this and, not wanting to lose him to Scouting, he was given a District role.

It is understood that when the family started to worship at the Congregational Church in Nether Street John and Richard transferred to the 5th Finchley.


More to follow

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Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls