Chief Commissioner's blog| Overseas branches
Wayne travelled with Nigel Hailey, International Commissioner, to visit Gibraltar on Monday; one of 13 overseas branches of UK Scouting.
Varied and far
Gibraltar, a three-hour flight from London, is one of our closest overseas branches, with the others ranging from Vanuatu in the Pacific to Anguilla in the Caribbean. In total we have 3,500 members across the 13 branches; some are located in British overseas territories and other Groups were established largely because of historic associations with the UK but are too small to join the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) as independent members.
The branches vary in size between one thousand members each in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to 50 in the British Virgin Islands, although we are in the process of opening another Group there too.
Scouting in Gibraltar, due to its strong military associations, has a long history dating back to 1908, which is when the first Group was founded. The 5th Gibraltar Sea Scouts are also celebrating their centenary this year.
Scouting is well represented with 300-plus members across Gibraltar, in a resident population of 29,000. Their two Scout bands regularly appear at civic events and represent the territory. They also played at the Day of Achievement and Celebration held annually at Windsor two years ago.
Making use of space
Community facilities are at a premium in Gibraltar and much has to be made of the available space. All facilities are provided free of charge and funding for insurance and equipment comes from the Gibraltarian government. We paid a visit to a purpose-built centre for the Sea Scouts, which is approaching completion and is ideally situated with its own pontoon and slipway. Gibraltar Scouts also own Governor’s Lookout, a former artillery battery turned campsite with the most amazing views.
After meetings with the Chief Commissioner and Chairman, where we discussed their development plans and a successor to Alfred Reoch, who retires shortly after 20 years as the Chief Commissioner, we met the mayor and the chief minister to discuss Scouting’s plans and the support available from the Gibraltarian government.
Joining in the fun
The evening was fantastic as we visited each of the Groups and almost all their members took part in a variety of activities, which included an opportunity for me to show off my pioneering (supervisory) skills, for better or worse.
Nigel and I would like to thank everyone for giving us such a great welcome.
Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner