A week like many others, so what's new?
Sorry for my failure to keep to the pledge of updating you weekly on my movements and thoughts, however the past 2 weeks have been particularly hectic and I certainly did not get the rest that I hoped for when I wrote on the 14th. So what’s new…
The week kicked off with a return to London on Monday with a chance to catch up with a colleague involved with world Scouting over a coffee before a late afternoon meeting of the so called ‘K3’, the term used to define the group of Chief Scout/UK Chief Commissioner, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and the Chief Executive . This is one of those meetings where the perception of others is so very different from the reality.It is perceived as one of those secret gatherings where we sit around a table taking decisions in isolation. As is so often the case with perceptions, the reality is far from this.
It is however a great opportunity to co-ordinate the 3 main teams at national level, being the volunteer leadership team, trustees and staff teams. Much of the time is spent on routine co-ordination as well as some of the more strategic thinking that needs to be started somewhere before being shared with these teams and wider.
Dinner with a colleague afterwards allowed us to put the world to rights before returning to Gatwick airport for an overnight stop and return back to Guernsey.
Back again on Thursday where I caught up with the recently retired Chief Commissioner of England (North) for lunch, he was unable to join us for the national AGM on Saturday so I wished to present him with his retirement gift (I’ll save that story for another day) and to thank him for his achievements as a Trustee of 8 years.
It is of course also a great opportunity for us to put the world to rights again and share experiences following his return to County Scouting.Saying thank you and moving on to new roles is one of those things we can do better at and so for me finding some time to do this is important as well as being most enjoyable.
My visit to Leyland in West Lancashire was a great experience and started with an opportunity to meet with the County Commissioner to discuss a number of national and local issues before a focus group discussion with 25 of the county team including District Commissioners and Assistant County Commissioners.
I find these opportunities great for answering questions about what is happening nationally as well as listening to what is happening at district and county levels and what more we should be doing. West Lancs are also a great example of what is currently so good within our movement with membership having grown in each of the past 5 years and has now gone back over 10,000 members for the first time since 2001.
In part this has been achieved by the opening of 18 new sections and 1 new group over the past year as well as a lot of great work locally, supported by 2 County Development Officers. I will write another day in more detail about some of the great projects that they have developed.It was also great to meet the Group Scout Leader and Assistant Group Scout Leader of the 5th Penwortham, the largest Group in the UK.
In inviting me, the County Commissioner had promised me a warm Lancastrian welcome and I certainly received that in the evening with 200 members of the County and guests including one of their MPs and members of the local communities. It was a great showcase for all that is good about Scouting in West Lancs, as well as including their AGM.
It was also an opportunity for me to share some thoughts on the future of Scouting and to reflect on some of the things that I had learnt. It was also one of those evenings where the thanks to speaker seemed to go on longer than the words of the speaker himself, but thank you Roy in any event!
Back into Manchester for the night and chance to catch up with the day job on Friday before flying down to Southampton to rendezvous with Julie who is joining me for the weekend. Saturday morning we are at the Hampshire Scout Activity Centre at Fernycroft to celebrate the launch of a partnership between Headquarters and Hampshire which sees Fernycroft becoming the first county owned site to join the National Scout Activity Centres scheme. A great addition to the national network and we hope to announce several more additions in the coming year.
It was also something of a trip down memory lane as I recall being a Scout at the time the County bought the site in the late 1970’s (ouch) and I am also very pleasantly surprised that unbeknown to me the 2 leaders who had significantly shaped my development in Scouting as my Scout and Venture Scout leaders were there. We ended up getting together again over tea on Sunday afternoon to reminisce even further.
No time for lunch and a quick drive north to the opening of the newly built Wiltshire Scout Centre at their Potterne Wick site near Devizes. A further great investment by dedicated volunteers in new multi-purpose facilities for young people and training facilities of the County and a chance to reminisce over my brief time as Assistant Treasurer when they first bought the site from the local authority in 1991.
In both cases a chance to meet hundreds of young people and leaders undertaking a variety of activities and camps on both sites for the weekend. A reminder of what it’s really all about.
Sadly a change of plan is required and rather than returning home on Sunday evening we need to fly in the opposite direction to attend the private funeral of the spouse of a close Scouting colleague who sadly passed away unexpectedly earlier in the week.Another of those moments that makes me take a step back and put the many challenges and frustrations currently in my mind into context and reminds me to make time for the important things in life and not take them for granted.
And so another week begins…