My Group’s Drums

Following on from my last post about something from the past of my Group, comes something very up to date! Last night our Drum Corps had their first annual Band Inspection. All Scout Bands have a yearly inspection to ensure that they uphold the correct standards for a Scout band which performs in public. Happily we passed!


It’s very impressive to see how much effort the young people put into their playing and how good they are considering how short a time a lot of them have been playing!

I am very impressed and proud!

My Group’s Remembrance Site

Today the part of our website that pays tribute to the members of the Troop who were killed in World War 1 and World War 2 is being relaunched

When it was originally set up in 2005, the site had the list of the names that are on our War Memorial in St. Andrew’s Church with links to each man’s commemorative page on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s website. It actually took a while to locate all the men and it has only been in the last couple of months that the last one has been properly identified.

On the new site, you can see information about each of the men, such as where they lived, information about their parents and siblings, what jobs they had, their grave or memorial and in a few cases a photo of the man himself. There is also some information on our Memorial and the Porthill War Memorial.

In addition to the men on the Memorial, we have found one Scout who was killed in World War 2 and four more, from a list we have of our original Scouts from 1908, who were killed in The Great War (WW1). These men are now commemorated here as well.

It is especially poignant that the site is being relaunched today as it is exactly 94 years to the day that one of our Scouts, Harold Bailey, died of the wounds received in battle (25th March 1918). He died while fighting on the Somme with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Please take a look at the site here.

Internet Safety

I was at an internet safety conference this week and a couple of things caught my eye with regard to Scouting and thought it would be worth sharing.

Firstly is the Professionals Online Safety Helpdesk. This is for anyone who works with young people, whether voluntary or paid. If adults are worried about how their online presence can affect their career (or role in Scouting), are asking ‘is it ok to friend young people on social networking sites?’ or feel they are being bullied online, they can contact the helpline for advice. Contact them by ringing 0844 381 4772 or email Oh yes and it’s free!

Next is the OnlineCompass tool. It is a simple tool that shows you what you need to do to make the use of technology safer for your group. Once you rate where you are, it gives you advice on how to improve and the means to get you there. It is designed for any organisation that works with young people. See the other flyer. This would be used by Groups who have internet access at their HQs. This is free as well

Washing Dishes and Rhododendron

I spent the weekend at Barnswood Camp (that’s the view from the gate at the top of the page) with our Cubs and those from Berry Hill. This is our traditional yearly camp with them, although we are a couple of months late this time!

This camp I spent my time on the cooking team and was, what seemed to be, constantly washing up! If you’ve ever catered for over 60 people you’ll know that they create a LOT of dishes! However, despite my dish-pan hands, I had a really good time, and more importantly so did the Cubs!

The odd thing about the campsite now is that they’ve had to remove all their rhododendron bushes due to disease. The site was surrounded with rhododendron and now its all been removed, the camp looks oddly open. Each camping pitch used to be quite secluded. Now you can even see the camp properly from the road, which you’ve never been able to do before! The character of the site has changed somewhat, but it’s still a great place to camp!

On Stage

Last week, the Scouts were given a guided backstage tour of the Regent Theatre in Hanley by our Assistant Scout Leader. There was no show on, so we were able to go to areas the public never see. We even went the top of the stage – 21 metres high!

While we were on the stage, I was able to present one of our Scouts with his Chief Scout’s Gold Award.

After which he got a huge round of applause from the rest of the Scouts sitting in the auditorium!

That’s probably the first and last time that I’ll be standing on the stage of a major theatre and get a round of applause!

Nick & Kiff Discuss:- Should Girl Guiding UK & the Scout Association Merge?

As I mentioned last time, Chris and I have had another discussion this time on the topic of “Should Girl Guiding UK & the Scout Association Merge?”.

This time it’s on Chris’s blog, Jabbering All Day Long. Have a read, here, and tell us what you think by leaving a comment. We look forward to hearing what others have to say.

I Do Wonder Sometimes…..

Last April, the Scout Association launched the My Badges App for the iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad. This app has all the requirements for all badges, from the Beaver’s right through to the Queen’s Scout Award. And very useful it is too.

At the time, I was not too impressed that it was just for the iDevices and not for the Android platform. The Scout Association said an Android version would be coming soon, er later in the year, no early in the new year, when pigs fly etc.

So today, you can imagine that I’m not overly impressed to read that the SA are releasing a game app for both iDevices and Android called Secret Island Adventure. Now why are they releasing a game for both platforms when they have yet to release the badges app on android? I’m guessing the game app won’t be free.

The badges app, I would buy for my phone (when it eventually comes out), but a game? An app that will be very useful seems to be being ignored for the sake of a game. I do wonder sometimes……

On a happier note, after last September’s discussion between me and Kiff, we were both keen to do another, but we both got a bit distracted by additions to our respective families! However, after Kiff has done a little housekeeping on his site this weekend, he will be publishing our next discussion. Watch this space!

The Need for Volunteers

There was in an interesting article in one of the newspapers the other day by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. In it he said that the likes of the Occupy London movement and Fred Goodwin use their skills to become volunteers for the Scout and Guide movements. Now to be fair he did also mention a lot of the other youth organisations, but the Scouts and Guides were his main focus.

Now I’m not too sure if the some of Occupy people or Sir Fred would make suitable volunteers, but Boris does make the point that the various youth organisations are crying out for adult help and that a volunteer run youth group can work wonders with kids, before there is a need to spend oodles of money on clearing up crime caused by gangs etc.

According to Boris, there are 8000 kids on waiting list as there is a lack of suitable adults to help out. This is why it was so important that when the Duchess of Cambridge decided to volunteer it was stressed that she would be doing it on a flexible basis.

I do think there a lot of people are now realising how important the work that all the youth organisation do and that there is more importance and a greater positive image being placed on adults volunteering.

Busy Evening

Phew! Last night I managed to visit the Troop, complete an Incident Report Form (not a quick thing to do), complete our annual census (our numbers are up – yey!) and reply to an enquiry from a prospective new Cub’s mum! So I think that’s all the outstanding jobs done. Oh wait, Exec meeting next week to plan!

It’s busy being a Group Scout Leader!

The Duchess of Cambridge

The news today is that the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William’s wife and future queen, is to be volunteering with Beaver Colonies  and Cub Packs close to where she is living, presumably in North Wales.

Now the interesting thing about this is that she is going to actually help out at meetings and activities and not just be a distant ‘figurehead’.

The other thing that is very noteworthy is that she will helping out as a flexible volunteer. I had an email from Wayne Bulpitt, the UK Chief Commissioner, today who explained it like this –

The Duchess has chosen to volunteer with us because she has been so impressed by the impact that we have on young people and on our communities.
Like many people The Duchess is incredibly busy. What has made it easy for her to volunteer is that we offer a model of volunteering that she can fit around her other duties and obligations.
As an organisation we realised some years ago that we had to be accessible to all potential volunteers; not just those who could commit to regular weekly meetings.  All the work we have done to encourage ‘flexible volunteering’ has been to support this.
The involvement of The Duchess is the most wonderful endorsement of the volunteering opportunities that we are able to offer – you must make sure that you seize it.
Over the coming days the news of The Duchess’s involvement in Scouting will be a talking point with other volunteers, with parents, perhaps your friends or family.  When you are speaking about the news, make sure you don’t just talk about the news itself, but the different opportunities there are for everyone to volunteer.


Now this is good, as the impression people get about volunteering is that you MUST do it on specific time and days etc.

The news is all over the media this morning along with the fact that she’s going to be the patron of 4 other charities.

You can read all about it here.

All in all a very good piece of news for the Scout Association and hopefully it will lead to more people volunteering to help out with Scouting and many other voluntary organisations.

Happy Christmas

I’d like to wish everyone who visits my site, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I’ve been a bit busy with other things in my life just recently (her name is Laura and she’s 8 weeks old!), but hopefully I’ll be posting more again in the new year.

Many thanks to those of you who have taken the time and effort to comment on my posts, I really appreciate it,  and I hope to see you all in 2012.

Alternatively, please have a Merry Non-Denominational Winter Festive Period 😉

Bear Grylls Thanks Me!

Ok, not me specifically, but all the adult volunteers who help with Scouts throughout the year.

I have to say that it’s a nice touch to get Bear to do videos like this. He doesn’t have to do it, but it’s nice to know that the work all the adult volunteers do is appreciated.


Earlier this year I bought a book about the men who died in World War 1 and who are commemorated on the War Memorial in Wolstanton. I was quite interested to learn that three of the names on the Memorial are those of our Scouts who died in WW1 and that there is memorial to one of them in the Churchyard and one is actually buried there! Reginald Showan is on the War Memorial and on a Memorial in the Church, Joseph Furnival is on the War Memorial, on a Memorial  in the Church and has a Memorial in the churchyard and Tom Lewis is on the War Memorial and is buried in the Churchyard. See update below.

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The War Memorial and the Memorial in Church

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Joseph Furnival’s Memorial and Tom Lewis’s grave

Having found this out, I decided to look a bit deeper into the men commemorated on our Memorial. Over the last few months as time, job, children etc. allowed, I found out a lot about them, including family information, army records (for some of them), newspaper cuttings and photos of their graves (if they have one). It is my intention to publish all the info on each man on our History site in due course (time permitting!).

On the 11th November I was looking at our local newspaper at and there was a section for remembering those who had been killed in wars. One caught my eye as it was from the niece of Reginald Showan. I asked the paper to pass my details on to her and to ask her to get in touch with me. She did and I went round to see her as she lived locally. She did not know he was a Scout or that there was a memorial to him and his fellow Scouts, nor that his family had paid for a candlestick in memory of him in our Church.

He has no known grave because she told me he was ‘blown to bits’. Very sad.

She gave me an interesting photo though.

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This shows him with his mother and brother Ian Malcolm ‘Mac’ on or around the time he joined up in September 1914. The very interesting thing is that his brother is in Scout uniform and is more than likely a Porthill Scout. So this is now the earliest photo of one of our Scouts we have!

Being a glutton for punishment, I’d also decided to try to find out some information on the list of 34 Scouts we have from 1908 (see here). Again, some I’ve found out lots about, some nothing at all and some just a slight bit of information.
The ones I’ve got information on show that their stories are very varied. One died in 1913 and another emigrated to Winnipeg in Canada, fought in France in WW1, returned to Canada and ended up living in Chicago!

But there is one that is interesting and leaves me with a ‘problem’. One of the Scouts on the 1908 list is a J H Strange. It didn’t occur to me at first that he was living at the same address as our first Scoutmaster, William Hockett. After some digging, I found that William Hockett was his step father.

James Harold Strange wasn’t a Scout for very long however, as he joined the Grenadier Guards at Lichfield as a boy soldier on 18/12/1908 aged 14. He became a drummer in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, attaining adult service on 14/08/1912, and ceased to be a drummer a year later. His Battalion embarked for France on 12/08/1914 and he was in action from 24/08/1914 during the retreat from Mons until he was killed during the Battle of the Aisne some time between 14-16/09/1914. He has no known grave, but is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

And herein lies the ‘problem’. He isn’t commemorated on our memorial. I guess this is because around the time WW1 started, his family moved to Hertfordshire, where his step father was from. I have, however, added him to our memorial page.

I think at some point we will have to add him to our memorial and in the Church’s Book of Remembrance, but how we add him to the Memorial is something to be thought about for the moment. Although, as ‘problems’ go, it’s not a bad one to have.

He will be commemorated by us, as it is the reason I started to look into the lives of these men. To be honest, although we had the Memorial, up until a couple of years ago, we knew nothing about these men. Which considering we have the Memorial to honour their memory, wasn’t really on! Which is why I wanted to find out all I could about them.

I do wonder if any of the others in the list of 1908 Scouts I have were killed in WW1, although I hope not.

Update 02/04/12: After a lot of searching, it appears that the Tom Lewis buried in the Churchyard isn’t ‘ours’. You can read about the correct one on the site here.

Gang Show

Last week, some of my Group’s Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Leaders went to watch the Burdi Boys Gang Show from Potteries North District (which was kind of our old District before things were changed in 2005).

For those who don’t know, a bit of history of the Gang Show from Wikipedia

In 1931, Ralph Reader, then a Rover Scout who was trying to make his mark in theatre in the USA and London, was asked to write a Scout based amateur variety show to help raise money for a swimming pool at Downe Scout Camp (now a Scout Association National Activity Centre). Rehearsals commenced under Reader’s direction on 25 May 1932 (his 29th birthday).

Initially the show did not have a title, but during a rehearsal break, Reader recalled later, he asked a cast member if everyone was ready to which the response was “Aye, aye Skip, the gang’s all here”. The first production, under the title The Gang’s All Here ran between 30 October and 1 November 1932 at the Scala Theatre in central London.

Despite the fact that the show was not a sell out, enough money was raised to fund the swimming pool and the show was well received. Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting, approached Reader and persuaded him to produce another show in 1933. This show was produced with the title The Gang Comes Back and ran for a week.

A tradition had been born and Reader continued to write and produce the London Gang Show. In 1934 the show became known as The Gang Show and the song Crest of a Wave was performed for the first time, becoming over the years the Show’s international anthem.

Burdi Boys itself has been around since 1958 and has survived 2 District amalgamations.

The show was co-produced by Rachael, my Group’s Beaver Leader and had Paul, our Scout Leader, and one of our Beavers in the cast. The show started with 1st Kidsgrove’s Scout Band playing a couple of tunes (The Burdi Boys theme and Crest of a Wave if I remember correctly) which was an innovative way to start the show. After that, came the usual mixture of songs, dancing and sketches. It wasn’t long before the Beavers came out to sing ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ and, as usual, they stole the show! Both the Beavers and the (also excellent) Cubs featured heavily in the first half of the show as they are not permitted to be onstage past a certain time. They, along with the rest of the cast, did really well in the song and dance numbers.

The second half of the show featured the Scouts, Explorers and Leaders and included a rendition by the cast of Bohemian Rhapsody and this actually worked very well! Towards the end, after having some ‘advice’ from Executive Producer Paul (who said again he wasn’t doing another show – now a running joke!), the co-producers Sarah and Rachael sang a duet. After this came the finale which featured songs from the TV series ‘Glee’ followed by, of course, the Burdi Boys Theme tune and A Crest of a Wave.

It was a shame that the Beavers and Cubs weren’t able to take part in the finale (they did on Saturday), but it was an excellent end to an excellent show. Well done to everyone who took part.

Oh, we all liked the comedy District Commissioner – or was it the real one??