A few hours between flights at Southampton on Friday meant time to catch up with Adam Jollans, County Commisisoner for Hampshire, about a variety of things.
It was also an opportunity to catch up with calls to my team and other colleagues, something I try to do at least fortnightly – I’m sure they appreciate most of them!
Strengthening a good relationship
We have enjoyed a good working relationship with Scouting Ireland for many years. Not least during the past five years, where we have a formal agreement to work alongside each other in Northern Ireland. This is working very well, so it was a delight to accept an invitation to join their Chief Scout, Michael Shinnick, for the weekend.
Friday evening we met with leaders who run the 75th East Finglas Group in a tough inner city area of Dublin. With a very active programme and strong respect within the community, the Group is growing and is virtually at capacity. With one of the largest Venture Units (15-17 years old) in Ireland it’s not surprising that most of their leadership team are under 25.
An amazing centre in the making
On Saturday, we ventured north to Castle Saunderson which is nestled on the Irish border and home to an amazing All-Ireland initiative for a Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, or an International Jamboree Centre. Due for completion in September, this amazing facility will offer impressive modern indoor accommodation, training and activity facilities with a campsite for 1,000 in natural forest and waterside access to Ireland’s network of lakes.
It is a joint initiative between The Scout Association Northern Ireland and Scouting Ireland and I can’t wait to see it in use. The wonderful sounds of nature will provide the perfect backdrop to an everyday adventure for the young people who will visit.
Star talent on show
Saturday evening we attended the Star Scout Show. In its 23rd year, the show brings together acts from groups across Ireland and with the cast of 290 young people on stage for the finale it was a most amazing end to a long and exciting day.
On Sunday, we visited Scouting Ireland’s national offices at their Larch Hill activity centre.
Sharing experiences and working together
Throughout the weekend, I had a variety of meetings and discussions to share experiences, exchange ideas and identify opportunities. Whilst we may be a much larger Association and have much to share, I’m also impressed by a number of initiatives that Scouting Ireland have: a members website to be envious of, for starters; and an interesting project to develop Rover Clubs for 18-21 year olds in their universities to name but two.
Thank you to Michael John and the Scouts of Scouting Ireland for a fantastic weekend.