Borders Scout Leader awarded for going above and beyond

Borders Scout Leader awarded for going above and beyond


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Martin Elliot, Regional Commissioner, and Nina Kunkel

Scout Leader Nina Kunkel returned to Scouting 6 years ago when her eldest child joined the Beaver Scouts in Lauder part of the Borders Scouts District, having previously been from a Scouting Family in Ireland she was keen to get involved and learn all about Scouting in the UK, initially joining as the Beaver Scout Leader for the newly formed Tuesday Beavers. Her enthusiasm for the role was contagious and the colony of Beavers was quickly at maximum numbers and enjoying a full and varied programme.

Her Scouting progressed as her children moved up through the sections into Cubs and then Scouts but as the world turned upside down with the Global Pandemic, Nina’s life outside Scouts needed to step up a gear. Having previously been an ITU nurse, Nina swapped her business attire as a transplant coordinator for ICU Scrubs and joined the hundreds of dedicated NHS staff putting their lives at risk to help save the UK population from this new unknown covid19. 

Whilst working long shifts in the various Scottish Intensive care Units Nina was also an active member of the Cub leadership team at Lauderdale, who were probably one of the first to try the then new Scouting online, with the whole of the UK locked in their houses, Schools and businesses were shut but the Cubs met weekly on zoom, with quizzes, bingo, armpit fudge and taskmaster to name but a few of the meetings.

As the Scouting year continued in 2020 the young people were eventually allowed to meet face to face with outdoor restrictions, Nina continued to work in ITU as well as be at Cub meetings. In November 2020 sadly Nina caught Covid 19 at work and was quite poorly, but fortunately, she managed to recover and was back Scouting in 2021.

With this dedication to Scouting and volunteering to be in the thick of the NHS’ front line it was an easy decision for the South East Scotland Regional Commissioner Martin Elliot to award Nina with a Commissioners Commendation at a surprise visit to a camp in East Lothian on Saturday 27th August. 

Congratulations Nina from all the Young People and Leaders in Lauderdale Scout Group. the Scottish Borders and South East Scotland Scouts.

Scouting wishes, 

Andy Beaumont
District Commissioner, Borders Scouts District

Volunteer opportunity available

If you enjoy reading this and it resonates with you, then please get in touch to find out how you can become an adult volunteer in any one of the local Scout Groups across the Scottish Borders. It’s so rewarding for you in so many ways. You’ll only know if you try. You can work directly with the young people or more behind the scenes in whatever flexible role suits you in time, skill and space. You don’t have to have had any prior Scouting experience, you just need to want to do good, and help others.  If you believe in this as a set of values then this is a great opportunity for you. What’s not to like!  Please email us for an informal, no obligation, chat. 

SEEE DofE Events – Borders

SEEE DofE Events – Borders

D of E has normally been completed in the Scottish Borders District through the schools but a couple of years ago we decided to get some leaders though their expedition assessors’ course and start running our own expeditions and awards.  

Then Covid happened! Our Summer 2020 expeditions were cancelled, and we didn’t know when they would take place. Move forward to Autumn 2020 and temporary changes to the rules allowed expeditions without camping. Borders District joined other districts in the Pentlands to run Bronze qualifying & Silver practice expeditions.

Spring 2021, a new cohort of Bronze from the Borders were preparing for their expedition, but new Covid restrictions prevented them attending the Pentland Hills. So, a Borders based expedition was planned around the Eildon Hills.

The weekend of the 7,8 and 9th May saw 20 Explorers from the Lauderdale and Tweedglen units unite to form 3 expedition teams. Approximately 17km each day through the rolling Borders hills.

Friday night started the weekend with a last zoom briefing and quiz, Saturday took the expedition groups in a loop north of Melrose testing their navigation skills through a mixture of farming and open ground. The weather was as much of a test as the navigation, with heavy rain, winds and cold temperatures. 

The 3 teams all made good progress and coped with the tricky navigation of parts of the first day, they finished off with cooking tea in Melrose before heading home.

Sunday promised slightly better weather and the temperatures were certainly a few degrees warmer, the teams assembled from 8:30am. Two teams started along the banks of Tweed and the third with a sharp assent of the Eildon Hills, both working in opposite directions they would pass each other at lunch time.

The weather still had its surprises with more heavy rain, but it didn’t seem to dampen the participants spirits. With teams arriving back in Melrose just before 5pm they all look tired but very proud of what they had achieved.

To my knowledge this is our first Scottish Borders based Bronze Expedition planned and run by the Borders District Scouts but it won’t be the last, a great achievement and congratulations to all the Leaders involved, here’s to the next expedition.

Andy Beaumont
District Commissioner, Borders District

Congratulations to Lauderdale Explorer Scout Young Leaders

Congratulations to Lauderdale Explorer Scout Young Leaders

Four Explorer Scout Young Leaders from Lauderdale Scouts recently achieved their Young Leader Belts.

Aksel and Dylan are Explorer Scout Young Leaders for Scouts; Amy and Ellyn are Explorer Scout Young Leaders for Cubs.

To earn their belts, they completed all of their modules. Their missions included a variety of outdoor activities, such as setting up a night hike in Thirlestane Castle grounds in Lauder and organising a litter pick, and indoor activities, such as leading consultations with young people about badge choices/planning and moderating patrol leader forums. 

(Left to right): Dylan, Amy, Ellyn and Aksel.

Borders news – Prince Charles visits Melrose and Great River Clean Up

Borders news – Prince Charles visits Melrose and Great River Clean Up

Prince Charles dropped in to see some of our Scouts, Cubs and Beavers as part of his recent visit to the Borders.

On 1st November Prince Charles had a busy day of engagements in the Borders visiting a trendy deli, a knitwear factory and cashmere company. Whilst he was there, he dropped in to watch the Melrose Scout Group toasting marshmallows over a fire pit at the Old Melrose Dairy Steading.

Prince Charles watched over a group of scouts, cubs and beavers as they toasted marshmallows over a fire pit at the dairy 

Great River Clean Up


In October, communities across the Scottish Borders including Scouts, Cubs and Beavers came together to help clear plastic and litter from the region’s waterways. Their endeavours were captured on a slot on Borders TV – see video below. A great example of excellent community work by our young people in the Borders

Border Scouts help protect Golden Eagle future

Innerleithen youngsters go for gold to back eagle project

The Southern Reporter – 21/01/2019

​Youngsters in Innerleithen are keeping an eye on the sky to show their support for a project to boost southern Scotland’s golden eagle population. The town’s scout group has been signed up by the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project as its first champions as part of an initiative to help safeguard the future of the birds of prey in the region. The scouts will get the chance to learn all about the iconic birds and will design a badge to display their champion status.

Borders Scouts work to safeguard the future of golden eagles

Peeblesshire News – 18/01/2019

SCOUTS in Innerleithen have launched a new initiative to help safeguard the future of golden eagles in the UK. Working with the the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, the youngsters will become the county’s first ever ‘Golden Eagle Champions’. The Innerleithen Scout Group’s new role will allow the children to discover how golden eagles live and survive as well as learning from wildlife experts as they get out and about in the countryside. It is also hoped that the initiative will further the Scouts’ knowledge of the local environment and the abundance of wildlife on their doorstep.

Scottish Scouts become Golden Eagle Champions

Scottish Field Magazine – 18/01/2019

​A Scottish Scout group is launching the first ever Golden Eagle Champions initiative to help safeguard the future of Golden Eagles in the UK. Working closely with the groundbreaking South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, the Scottish Borders Innerleithen Scout Group will become the UK’s first ever Golden Eagle Champions, learning from experts and getting to see some of these iconic birds themselves. The Borders’ Scouts will also be designing a special badge that the group can earn as part of their work on this project.

 Read more about this great project at

Borders District Report 2018 for Regional Report

Borders District Report 2018 for Regional Report

Borders Brass MonkeyThe past year has seen an increasing number of Young People taking part and Adult volunteers becoming involved in Scouting in the Borders which is excellent news. This has kept our Appointments Advisory Committee and Getting Started training busy and active on a regular alternate bimonthly programme. Groups are offering a varied and engaging programme to all Young People from regular weekly meetings to all manners of trips out be they local or city based. Nights Away Experiences are a regular part of many Groups activities involving all sections on a local, national and International level. The Borders were very fortunate to have 10 Explorers participate in the Blair Atholl Jamborette along with 7 selected for the 2019 American World Scout Jamboree. In January a District Brass Monkey camp enjoyed by 100 Scouts was held at Kelso Racecourse which celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the first one held in the Borders which is said to be the birthplace of the Brass Monkey camp.

Borders District Report 2018 for Regional ReportThis year we have also appointed our first Assistant District Commissioners for Youth Involvement – one will be appointed in each cluster and so far, two out of three are in place. These roles are being filled by young people between 18-25 who are bringing a fresh new viewpoint to the District team and they are already ensuring that the views of Young People are at the heart of what we do.

Borders District have been very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of a substantial bequest by the late David Hendry of Jedburgh for which we are extremely grateful. Part of this has been used by SHQ to fund a Local Development Officer for a two-year period. This is allowing us to target specifically three groups, one in each Cluster with the aim of growing them in adult volunteers, sections available and number of young people involved. Whilst the benefits of having an LDO directly involved in the District are immense, it cannot be under estimated the additional work load placed upon the District team. The balance of the bequest has been made available to the District to benefit directly all of the Young People. This is now beginning to take effect with distributions flowing out to groups.

Borders District Report 2018 for Regional ReportBorders District has a huge geographical spread covering approximately 5000 km2 which creates a logistical challenge for all involved. Huge thanks to all of our dedicated leaders, District Executive and District Team for tackling this head on and making opportunities available for the Young People over all of this area. It was with great pleasure at our District AGM in May I was able to present four Chief Scout’s Commendations for Good Service and four Awards of Merit to leaders and Executive members.

Douglas Allan
District Commissioner
Borders District