Cheshire and a day of firsts

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Another early start on Tuesday. I flew to Manchester for a very productive day meeting volunteers and helping celebrate a couple of firsts in the buzzing Scout county that is Cheshire.

It didn’t take long to see why Scouting in Cheshire is thriving. Having accepted an invitation to speak at their AGM, I asked if it would be possible to meet with members of the County team and District Commissioners beforehand. In no time at all back to back meetings had been set up with groups of District Commissioners, youth members on District and County teams, Local Training Managers and County team members. All gave up their afternoon to join me for a series of focus Group discussions and Q and A sessions on topics concerning their roles and much more.

District Commissioners are at the forefront of ensuring effective support for Section and Unit Leaders and I was interested in discussing the challenges they face in making this a reality and some of the initiatives they have tried.

What we mean by youth involvement

Next up was a youth forum where we discussed the challenges of achieving our ambitions for greater youth involvement.

We discussed how youth members on Executive Committees occasionally feel that they are not treated equally and that perhaps it would be better if we moved to ensuring that such committees should simply match the profile of the community and Movement, rather than have specific youth representatives. Food for thought.

We also discussed how some young Assistant Leaders feel frustrated because their older Section Leaders seem reluctant to let go.This is not unique to Cheshire and achieving the goal of a successful partnership between young and old is vital, as they highlighted the importance they place on being coached and mentored by more experienced Leaders.

I was particularly interested in the Activities sub-committee they have established to promote activity provision by working with and publicising providers, etc.

The importance of adult training

I discussed the Local Training Manager’s experience with the training scheme and the vital importance of ensuring that our training is relative and easily accessible. The County have been particularly successful in reviving residential courses with excellent participation levels.

And the firsts...

It was nice to finish the day with a couple of firsts. I had the privilege of presenting Explorer Scout Catherine Kelham, with her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, the 500th person to achieve the award in Cheshire, and also to present her Queen Scout Award.

Another first for me as a national volunteer: an investiture. I have to say I was more than a little nervous about it, as I am just a little rusty, to say the least. But it was a pleasure to be able to welcome Chris Harris, recently appointed Regional Commissioner, North West England and who is entirely new to Scouting – Cheshire ensured that we made him feel very welcome.

A most rewarding, if exhausting day!

Wednesday’s challenge was to judge entries for the competition amongst Scout’s holding the Chief Scout Gold award to join the Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, for a 24 hour survival weekend on his Island in July – an even harder task I have to say. More of this a little later.

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