In the face of tragedy


Just occasionally the communities in which we live, work and Scout are impacted by an unexpected disaster or tragedy but seldom do they occur in such quick succession than those that have impacted on the Scouts of Cumbria in recent weeks.

I heard from Graham, Group Scout Leader of the 2nd Seascale at the beginning of the week who dropped us a line to let us know how the Group and its members were coping after the  tragic shooting incident, which followed so closely after the Keswick coach crash. In both cases, members of the Group were directly impacted either through friends and family being directly involved or in the case of one of our Cubs, personally witnessing a shooting.

In Carlisle, the fiancé of one of our leaders was also fatally shot. I called Graham to offer our deepest sympathies to them and the wider community and we talked about ways we could help. Graham summed it up when he said 'it is very hard to explain how people feel – numb, shocked, disbelieving – these things don’t happen here.'

He went on to say 'however, we will cope, leaders helped each other by discussing the Group camp and we will get through it, even if it is hard to smile and whistle just now.' The Group's AGM on Thursday evening was understandably subdued however they were buoyed by a message of support from Chief Scout, Bear Grylls which the District Commissioner, Kim, shared.

When the alarm went at 4.45am on Thursday morning I have to confess that the joys of the dawn chorus were not the first thing on my mind. Derek (Twine) and I were making our way to London City airport for an early morning flight to Edinburgh and the latest of our 'UK meetings' involving the Chief Commissioners, Chairs and Senior Staff members from the four countries along with myself, Alan (Craft) and Derek.

As I have mentioned before, we set these meetings up just over a year ago to improve cooperation in our work and to ensure greater understanding of the differences that exist within legal, government and other systems whilst recognising the benefits of our common purpose and shared work.

It was pleasing to be able to report good progress in a number of particular areas as well as being able to identify some other areas for improvement. It was also of course another opportunity to meet with individuals to discuss other particular issues relative to individual countries etc.

Much of the rest of the week has been spent catching up with administration, planning my diary to ensure that I can visit each of the main international camps taking place at the end of July/beginning of August this year and the pleasure of accompanying Julie to a reception at Government House in Guernsey to mark the Queen’s official birthday and announcements in the Birthday Honours.

I am presently aware of seven members whose outstanding service to Scouting and the community has been recognised (we are just cross checking before sharing them). It was a particular delight to learn that the Chief Guide, Liz Burnley was also recognised for her outstanding contributions to Guiding with the award of the CBE.  I am sure you will all join me in congratulating all award recipients.

Finally, whilst researching for an article regarding Scout Active Support, I came across the 4th Worcester Park Unit which struck me as being another one of those great success stories that I just have to share. Take a look for yourself at their website for a great example of how a rapidly growing group of 80 plus Scout Active Support members aged 21-70+ have got together to provide a variety of support services to local Scouting. Just one of a growing number of Scout Active Support success stories.

Must go, off to Cheshire for a round of discussions and their AGM.

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