Review 2016-17: Group Scout Leader

Adrian Ducker
Scouting’s progress is both national and local. Membership is up and the movement continues to generate much interest and considerable respect.

Since securing the lease two years ago of the Open Space next to our headquarters we have continued to improve the land, this year seeing the installation of our outdoor meeting area in the form of a campfire circle complete with a large fire basket. We thank our local supporters including our hard working councillors for the grant aid.

Group events including participation in the District Camp, the May Fair and the Open Day were successful and much enjoyed by young people, our supporters and the local community – as appropriate!

Group collective achievements include full and successful participation in District and County events, active programmes for all the sections and the Scout Active Support (SAS) unit, and all the other activities detailed in the section reports that follow. I also congratulate all beaver scouts, cub scouts, scouts, explorer and network scouts who have had fun gaining badges and taking part in camps, activities and competitions during the year. Well done to you all!

1st Hinchley Wood is the fourth largest Group in Esher District and the second largest with one section of each age range. The beaver, cub and scout sections remain full with waiting lists. The lack of meeting slots in our joint headquarters prevents more expansion of Group numbers.

All this activity and success does not just happen; it is the result of an enormous amount of hard work by the leaders and assistants who are the backbone of the group, supported by Scout Active Support and backed up by the Group Executive. I would like to express my thanks and I am sure that of all parents to all the volunteer leaders and assistants, past and present, who put so much time and energy into 1st Hinchley Wood.

Chief Scout Bear Grylls normally makes awards to leaders and other adults for their service. This year there’s been a glitch at The Scout Association with none forthcoming, which can only mean that we’ll be reporting on a record number next year!

There have been a number of changes in the Group’s leadership team during the year, with a good number of new appointments as listed in the section reports that follow. We thank those who have left us for their help. We welcome all who have joined our team during the year. This is all excellent but yet more volunteers are needed to take the responsibilities of leadership especially for the older sections. This is a continuing group objective for the year ahead.

Thanks to an excellent leader training programme, there is no pre-requisite in expertise or experience. All leaders undertake to complete their initial leader training within five months of appointment and their full training within five years. They then undergo ongoing training throughout their service, keeping them up to date in such areas as safety, safeguarding and first aid. Those becoming leaders may bypass the considerable waiting lists for membership of the sections for their children.

A continuing challenge for the volunteer leader team is delivering ever more sophisticated programmes requiring specialised training and qualifications such as archery, shooting and water and mountain-based activities. It is good to report that many of our leaders and instructors have undertaken training in specialist areas such as mountain walking, advanced first aid, shooting, archery, water activities as well as their mainstream Scout adult leader training.

Our water activities team is strengthened by the addition of explorers joining the coaching team. It is fantastic to see young people making use of the knowledge and experience gained through Scouting by putting something back into the movement.

Richard Beaney, our Group Quartermaster, continues to make a very positive contribution. With the ever-increasing amount of expensive equipment needed to support our level of activity his methodical and practical approach is much appreciated by the leaders. He is steadily continuing to improve our storage facilities with new racking to increase the effective space and make it easier to access the equipment.

Our ‘fleet’ of two minibuses remains unchanged and is much used. We have funding in place and are on the lookout for a replacement for the older, smaller (blue) bus (yes, you’ve heard that before!).

We have purchased additional camping equipment to allow us to equip five scout patrols and the explorers camping simultaneously. We have ordered a replacement large mess tent.

The Chris Platt Activity Centre continues to make a major contribution to the life of the Group. Besides housing the minibuses, canoes and kayaks on their trailer, fair stalls, archery and other equipment, the air rifle range and the climbing/traverse wall have been well used – a real multi-activity building.

As Chairman Andrew has said, ‘many hands make light work’

The Group has been pleased to continue joint initiatives with other local organisations, notably St Christopher’s Church and Girlguiding Hinchley Wood, to promote the community of Hinchley Wood. One very visible result of this is the Hinchley Wood Community Magazine. This magazine, published by the Church and contributed to and sometimes distributed by 1st Hinchley Wood, helps to increase local awareness of just how much goes on in scouting and guiding in Hinchley Wood. Many thanks to Chris Beaney who coordinates our contributions.

Closely supporting the uniformed team is the Group Executive, the lay team whose function is to support the Group in its work. The greatest part of this involves fundraising and our financial report shows just how important the fundraising effort is to our overall income. My thanks go to our Chairman Andrew Sturmer, Secretary Amanda Moylan-Jones, Treasurer Laurence Tanner and all Group Exec members and parents who have helped in this and other vital functions.

The widened parent support base including our parent reps has been a real success story. Well done to everyone involved. Our future objectives are to attract more leaders, to train more in specialist roles and to encourage more parents to get involved in managing the Group and the joint headquarters. As Chairman Andrew has said, ‘many hands make light work’ is very true so please look at the many ways in which you can help. Whilst many of these roles involve evening and weekend participation there are a number which are not time or space dependent and thus practical for those who cannot easily manage to get to the HQ. Parent reps will be able to provide more details – as an example Angus Lund, our (and Esher Scout District’s) Orienteering specialist to great effect, took over and upgraded the Group Website during the year – many thanks to Angus.

We hope you enjoy this Annual Review. I am grateful to all the contributors and to Peter Hanna for their help in producing this year’s edition.

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