The End of the 1970s

At the end of the 1970s the Group was well supported with all sections thriving.  The Group was led by Jim Hill as Group Scout leader with Mike Vernon leading the Troop as Scout Leader and doubling up as Deputy Group Scout Leader.  Eric Tupman retired from leading Jacala (Monday) cub pack after many years of service and was succeeded by Rick Kershaw whilst Denise Boothby continued in charge at Mao (Friday) cubs.  In 1978 Rick Smethhurst was Venture Scout leader and Dave Mattison led the Scout Band.  The Group chairman was Cliff Sykes, who had been recruited by Jim Hill in 1974, a roll that Cliff would retain until 2008.  Anne Flitcroft had taken over from Neville Gibson in 1978 as Chairman of the Scout Supporters’ Association and Eva Martin retired as Group Secretary, a position she had fulfilled for many years.  The position of Group Secretary was filled for a while by Val Hughes, who subsequently left the area to return to her husband’s native Wales, Marilyn Morten then took over the post for a while but after that the position remained vacant although secretarial support was provided by Doreen Sykes who had joined the Supporters Association in 1976. 

Typically, there were over 40 scouts, 70 cubs and 10 or more Venture Scouts in the group during this period.  The Scout Band was 20 strong with a long list of additional interested members on the waiting list.  Dave Mattison was reluctant to take on new members as he was concerned about his ability to support such a large band, not to mention the availability of instruments, although plans were in place for two additional bell lyres to provide a greater repertoire.

1978 was an important year for the Scout Troop with the first international camp since 1965 at Wiltz in Luxembourg.  There were 5 leaders, 9 Venture Scouts and 34 boys including a small contingent from 1st Norbury Scouts.  Gary and Adrian Lendon from 1st Norbury wrote a report on the camp for the Norbury Parish Newsletter.

On Friday 28th July 1978, we joined a party of Scouts and Venture Scouts from 1st Hazel Grove at Wesley Street, ready for the Journey to their annual camp, this year held in Wiltz in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

By 1.30pm the coach was loaded with Scouters, Ventures, Scouts, luggage, bedding-rolls, lettuce, eggs, sausages etc, and with the back window decorated with a Union Flag, we set off on the first leg of the journey in brilliant sunshine to Felixstowe. We boarded the night ferry to Zeebrugge.  The ship was really crowded and people were sleeping in any space they could find, but as this was a new experience for the majority of the scouts, many were too excited to sleep. On arrival at Zeebrugge, we travelled the length of Belgium, passing through Brussels, before arriving in the town of Wiltz, a small town around the size of Hazel Grove.

The large forest camp site surrounded the town and we slept in a three-story chalet, surrounded by glorious wooded countryside.

One highlight of the camp was an international campfire with scouts from Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, singing together and taking it in turn to entertain everyone.  Other highlights included trips to Metz in Northern France, Bitburger in Germany and a day out in Luxembourg City.  Another memorable occasion was the Blind Trail cooked up by the Venture Scouts.  On the menu were courses of mud, leaves and uneaten macaroni cheese, mixed generously with gallons of water!                                                                     

Gary and Adrian Lendon (1st Norbury Scouts)

The Group continued to develop and thrive, building on previous experience, traditions and activities, adding new events and adapting to the significant social changes that enveloped the country over the decades and embracing the re-organisations embarked upon by the Scout Association over the years.

Following the Golden Jubilee Celebrations it was back to normal with the delivery of top quality scouting after the build up and euphoria of the Jubilee.  Camping was always a vital part of the programme and five day cub camps were introduced in the early 1980s when both cub packs combined and visited different sites including Wooton under Edge,GilwellPark,KielderForest, Beaudesert, Walesby Forrest and Gyryn Goch.  The Scouts and Venturers, in addition to their established sites in the Lake District and North Wales camped at Ramsey on the Isle of Man, Wiltz in Luxemburg, Jambville Paris, Auchengillan in Scotland, Poole in Dorset with a visit to Brownsea Island, Brecon and Caersws.  Both the Cubs and Scouts also held annual weekend camps, attended District Camps andCountyRalliesand joined with the Group family camps when all parents and relatives were invited to attend with their boys.

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