Toasting success in the Lakes

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Reivers District Cumbria (Carlisle and surrounding area), in the far north west of England was my destination for Monday evening with an opportunity during the afternoon to catch up with Chris Harris, our ‘Scouting newbie’ Regional Commissioner for the North West.

The occasion was the launch of Carlisle Scout Week and the announcement that Fred Story, a successful entrepreneur and former Cub and Cub leader, had agreed to become Cumbria’s first Scouting Ambassador.

Our host for the evening was Carlisle’s Mayor, Mary Styth – a fantastic ambassador herself, who had been so impressed with what she had learned about Scouting from our young people a year earlier at their AGM that she had made supporting them a priority for the year – and what an impact she has had. Thank you Mary.

Fred was keen to offer his support, recalling his own Scouting as a young person and subsequently as a leader when his own son joined. We shared some ideas on how Mary, Fred and other supporters can help us benefit more young people by recruiting adults and growing Scouting and countering some of the misperceptions about being sued and bureaucracy.

As well as chatting to the external guests, it was an opportunity to talk to the many leaders and young people that have made Reivers District a great success with 46 per cent growth in five years, and a seven-fold increase in girls. The story is one of hard work and dedication, taking advantage of national changes around the programme, image and publicity and applying it to their district. Boy is it paying dividends.

Chatting to Trish, another Scouting newbie, however reminded me of how hard it can be. She opened a Cub Pack in a tough part of town, two initial leaders left quickly and she is alone, relying on help from the development team with little parental help.

It’s not easy, but I was reminded of my conversation with a Cub leader in Newry District, Northern Ireland, a month or two back. She had a similar experience, but persevered and now has 24+ Cubs and a thriving leadership team. Keep the faith Trish, it will be worth it.

Well done Reivers Distract and many thanks for a great evening.

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