Blog | Scouts announce new Chief Commissioner for England
We are excited to announce our new Chief Commissioner for England, Alex Peace-Gadsby. We spoke to Alex about her new role and all things volunteering...
Hi, Alex. Congratulations on your new appointment – can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you! So, I live in Nottinghamshire where I’m a Scout leader in the Ashfield District. I mainly work between Nottingham and London; in my day job I own and run multiple businesses– the most significant of those being the clothing company, Musto. I also sit on various national and local charity boards. I’ve got two children – a Cub and a Beaver.
On a Friday night I’m a leader with Beaver Scouts and also Scouts and Explorers later in the evening. I love working with the Beaver Scouts – it’s an age where they’ll happily sign up for anything and it’s a real magical age for them, as I can even enthuse and entertain them by just putting on a pink wig, which is great! It’s then really lovely to pick up with the young people again when they’re older – you watch and help them develop and then, before you know it, you’re mentoring teenagers and helping them with opportunities for their CVs.
Sounds exhausting! Did you get involved in Scouts because your children joined?
I was involved in Scouts before that. My nephews – who are quite a bit older than my two –asked me to go along to a St George’s Day parade with them. My mum was a schoolteacher so I think people naturally enlist my help for various things too.
So I’m standing in the car park waiting for the parade, surrounded by young people kicking around and waiting for things to get started, and it was just natural to me to start playing on the lines on the concrete and start an activity with them. Before you know it, along comes a Scout leader to recruit me. Eleven years later and the rest is history I suppose!
Are you excited to be the Chief Commissioner for England?
I’m really excited about the new role – there are of course various elements to it. I’ve watched and admired how a century-old organisation manages to keep refreshing and modernising itself and making itself relevant during the years and the chance to get strategically involved in creating another century’s worth of Scouting is really exciting.
We’re growing, which is great, and I want to help continue that, especially in areas where Scouting is needed the most and where young people can benefit most from it.
I also understand that volunteering commitments have changed too – we don’t always have time to spend a week planning for example – so I’d like to help the on-going work to make it easier for people to volunteer in a flexible way and for our volunteering to keep evolving so we can keep bringing those joining lists down and the volunteer numbers up.
Parents will come along to Scouts and drop off their kids and they’ll see the fantastic job leaders are doing and think, ‘crikey, I could never do that.’ They’ll probably underestimate themselves or assume that they won’t be able to dedicate the time needed for it. So we need to make it clear that it’s not impossible to volunteer at Scouts – we’ll give you all the support you need and loads of help along the way.
I’m mainly looking forward to getting out there and meeting as many people as possible. It’ll be near impossible to meet every volunteer out there, but I want to be there to offer support to as many as possible and say ‘thank you’ for all the time and dedication they volunteer in Scouting.
What else would you like to see happen in Scouts?
Community impact is a huge priority for me. There are some great opportunities out there. We’ve reinvented ourselves at Scouts so we can reinvent the way we help communities. There are only so many bird boxes the world needs so thinking beyond this and making lasting differences that are relevant to our own communities is crucial.
In my own community in Ashfield, we’re looking at Explorer Scouts working alongside young people who aren’t in employment, education or training and trying to let them experience excitement and personal challenges through Scouting so they can go back into education or training with confidence.
Young people have told us that the community matters to them. As much as we’re volunteers, we have a duty to help our young people make a difference – if they’re telling us that they want to get involved, we really should facilitate it.
I’m so passionate about Scouting because I really believe in it and the young people are the key motivation.
Finally – what are the top three things you love about being a Scout leader?
Okay, in no particular order…
1. I love the way the Beaver Scouts keep me young by insisting that I have to sit on the floor with them in a circle and play ‘Duck Duck Goose’. After a busy, stressful working week, it gives me the opportunity to play, be myself and be a kid again!
2. I love the feeling of being a mentor to the Scouts and Explorers. Having seen them grow up and see them develop, learn life skills and apply them, which puts them on a great path for the future, it’s so rewarding.
3. I love the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of volunteers that are like one big family. No matter where we are in the world, we always seem to find each other! I was sitting on a plane a few weeks ago next to someone who was a Scout leader and we spent the entire flight talking about Scouting! Once it’s in the blood that’s it!
Thank you, Alex.
You can follow on Alex on Twitter @AlexxiaPG