In Scouting we have a saying: ‘Once a Scout always a Scout’
This sums up Jack perfectly because he was a Cub Scout at the age of 8 in Australia and he remained a Scout for the next 80 years; 100% committed to the Scout Movement.
Jack went on to be a Scout, a Senior Scout and a Rover Scout and then an adult supporter in Australia and in particular he volunteered at the Pennant Hills Camp Site in New South Wales. He maintained contact with his Scouting pals and loved to tell stories about their escapades in times gone by. Whilst he always accepted change, even if he didn’t always agree with it, Jack liked to think that the Australian way might be better – indeed a couple of years ago I received an email from Jack with a large attachment and a note to say that ‘this is how you should do it’. The attachment turned out to be a copy of the New South Wales Adult Training Calendar for 2013.
Jack joined UK scouting when Bruce became a Cub Scout at the 11th Worcester Scout Group in Albany Terrace and later when the Group moved to the former YMCA building on Henwick Road Jack became more involved and was part of the team that made the accommodation suitable for Scouting.
When Bruce moved to the 5th Worcester to be a sea scout Jack immediately started helping out at the headquarters in Park View Terrace. He became the Group Scout Leader in 1981 and retained that role until 2004 – 23 years of good service to a really good Scout Group. Whilst Jack was the Group Scout Leader the group developed and expanded significantly and a lot of improvements were made to the grounds and to the main building, a new boathouse was built together with a new slipway and more boats and canoes were acquired.
I wonder how many hundreds of young people benefitted from Jack’s hard work and encouragement during those 23 years at the 5th Worcester.
But being the Group Scout Leader was not all that Jack did for Scouting because at heart Jack was a ‘volunteer’ – he usually had his hand up to volunteer even before the request was made.
He was always the most reliable member of any team he was part of – whether helping at District Camp; running a base at a competition for Cubs or Scouts or being an active member of the Scout Fellowship and more recently the Scout Active Support Unit – offering to provide help in one of the Groups in the District – perhaps by training Cubs for an activity badge or testing their knowledge for the award of a badge.
In the last decade or so Jack was supporting the training of adult Leaders by acting as a Training Adviser and helping the new Leaders to progress with their training. Another very important aspect of Jack’s life in Scouting.
Jack had a multitude of skills – indoor skills and outdoors skills – but he always seemed to be at his happiest if the skill involved the use of his beloved pen knife – always razor sharp as one District Commissioner found when he borrowed it – naturally Jack was the first to volunteer to take him to the Accident and Emergency Unit to be stitched up!
Jack loved Scouting and one of the highlights of his year was to attend the annual Leaders reunion at Gilwell Park, our headquarters and the home of Scouting. Here he was able to meet old friends and make new ones – I will always remember one particular year – as we were walking around Gilwell Jack spotted a chap – he was about the same age and build as Jack and he was wearing an Australian Scout uniform. What an opportunity for Jack to chat and to reminisce – they found that they knew the same camp sites in New South Wales and possibly some of the same people. It was wonderful to watch – it was rather like watching Jack talking to himself in a mirror.
I am limited for time so I will sum up like this.
In Scouting we have a Promise that all our young members and all our adult members make – there are many versions for different faiths and nationalities but they all ask Scouts to ‘do their best’ and that is what Jack always did and my goodness what a high standard he set for the rest of us. Fittingly last year the Chief Scout awarded Jack the Silver Acorn – the citation reads ‘in recognition of specially distinguished service to Scouting’
For me I consider it to have been a privilege to have known Jack; to have worked with him in Scouting and to be able to have considered him a friend.