All at sea. Well, at least in Portsmouth Harbour...

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Wednesday saw a visit to HMS Bristol at Portsmouth and a reception with the 2nd Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Sir Alan Massey to celebrate the success of the Royal Navy Recognised Sea Scout scheme and its extension for a further five years.

I’ve commented before on the success of the scheme for Scouting, and we were particularly delighted that the 2nd Sea Lord (you don’t get much more senior in the Royal Navy) himself had made the time to join us on board HMS Bristol for the occasion.

Once again, my plans were very nearly thwarted by travel problems, this time the failure of a train taking Jenny, a member of our Programme and Development staff responsible for administering the scheme and me, from Gatwick Airport to Portsmouth Harbour was halted by a brake failure at Pulborough.

Our subsequent ‘rescue’ and change of train further down the line to avoid ending up in Bognor Regis, resulted in us being over an hour late! I was however particularly honoured that the 2nd Sea Lord very kindly rearranged some appointments and extend his stay with us.

It was lucky that two Explorer Scouts from the 2nd Fareham Sea Explorer Unit, Ben and Naomi who along with the Tony, District Commissioner for Fareham West were better prepared and arrived on time. They were more than able to entertain Sir Alan and the other naval guests with the background on the practical benefits that the scheme brings both the Navy and Scouts.

One of those benefits is HMS Bristol itself, a Royal Navy frigate moored in Portsmouth Harbour and used as a training base for the Royal Navy including Sea Scouts. Just this week, 150 Sea Scouts from across the UK are taking part in the annual Sea Scout summer camp on board and where they have the facilities of the ship and a multitude of water based activities at their disposal.

An additional benefit of the current success of Scouting, and Naval Recognised Sea Scouts in particular, is that the Royal Navy provides us with a grant which reflects membership along with the number of training awards being obtained by the recognised groups over the previous year. As a result of the current success the grant has again been increased and this year stands at £68,000.

Catching up with colleagues and paperwork...

The beginning of the week had been a little more routine, having gone direct to Gilwell from Northern Ireland last weekend; I spent the day catching up with paperwork in the office there and with various colleagues.

We also had a telephone conference to close the working group looking at our Management and Leadership project which, having been approved, now moves to implementation and being led by Tim, Chief Commissioner of England with a different support group. It is an opportunity to review progress to date of the project and in particular, to thank those members who have worked so hard in getting it to this stage.

A chance to relax in the evening as I enjoyed dinner with Paul who was Chief Commissioner of England between 1995 and 2003 and was the person who appointed me Bailiwick Commissioner for Guernsey and encouraged me to stand for election to the Committee of Council in 2001. As you can see, he has much to answer for!

We had a great evening reminiscing and also talking about some of the challenges for our Movement today. It never ceases to amaze me that in many ways whilst so much has changed on the outside, many of our challenges remain the same.

Bear takes to the air...

The Bank Holiday weekend saw Scouting in the North East of England get a massive boost from a whirlwind visit to 24 events across the region by Bear.

Not even the poor weather on Saturday afternoon managed to dampen the excitement; whilst the helicopter was grounded, Bear undertook the last three visits of the day on the ground ensuring that nobody missed out entirely, even if the vists were a little shorter.

A big thank you to the organisers of all of the events, especially those who responded to the unexpected and last minute changes. We felt that using the helicopter and doing so many visits, although imposing a great demand on resources for both staff and volunteers, as well as the cost, was the best way to make the most of the weekend.

We have two of these weekends each year of Bear’s appointment and I am keen to explore the best ways in which we can use Bear’s time to recognise the achievements and committment of volunteers and provide inspiration to young people across the UK.

Perhaps you attended one of the visits, followed it on Twitter, or just look forward to seeing Bear next time, but I would welcome any thoughts you have regarding the weekend and your ideas on how we could perhaps develop them in the future. Please post a comment below or email me direct as usual if you prefer.

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