Jim Kelly Gone Home

Jim Kelly Gone Home

Last month saw the end of an era in Craigalmond District, with the passing on 3 September of Jim Kelly, former District Commissioner of Haymarket District (now Craigalmond) and Assistant Area Commissioner of Edinburgh Area (now SE Scotland Region).

Jim’s Scouting career spanned over 80 years, and a celebration of Jim’s life on 18 September saw dozens of Jim’s former Scouting colleagues come to pay their last respects and share their many fond memories.  At that service, Graham Inglis, a former 10th Haymarket Scout, read a moving tribute to Jim’s Scouting life, a shortened version of which is reproduced below.

Our thoughts are with Jim’s daughter Irene, her husband Harry, and their children David and Emma.

It all began in 1938 when Jim joined the newly formed 9th West Lothian Cub Pack. This channelled Jim’s enthusiasm for outdoor activities and he became their first Senior Sixer.

During the war years, Jim’s service continued with the 3rd West Lothian Scouts, where Patrol Leaders ran the meetings, and the Scouts provided support to the local ARP Wardens and the Home Guard – this led to Jim gaining his National Service Flash and earning his King’s Scout Award.

After a period of National Service at the end of the war, Jim immediately began his career as a Scouter with the 33rd Ayrshire, where he coached his Troop into winning the County Flag Competition again and again.

Jim moved to Aberdeen in 1954 with the Air Ministry works Dept, where he continued his Scouting as Leader of 1st Oakbank Troop, based inside an “approved” school.  In 1961 Jim moved his family to Cyprus, where Jim continued his scouting journey with the 1st Akrotiri, before returning to Scotland in 1965, settling in Edinburgh.

This brought him to the 10th Midlothian based in Corstorphine and during the next 8 years he thoroughly enjoyed bringing his brand of Scouting to his boys. He loved competitions, worked hard to ensure all gained the most they could from Scouting, and continued to develop young people with fun and care.

At his first camp as ‘Skip’ with the 10th at Loch Doon, not far from his old stomping ground, Robert Young, then a Troop Leader, was responsible for the canteen and was almost caught out, having left it at the hall. He just managed to get his sister and her husband to drive it over to camp before canteen call in the afternoon – without it they would have not seen Jim showing off his party piece…

Kenny Berry had got a large bottle of fizzy juice and some sweets and Skip asked him for a swig of his juice. Jim swirled the bottle and the whole lot went down the hatch in a oner – Jim didn’t even burp and Kenny’s Jaw hit the floor! Needless to say, Jim bought him another bottle and Kenny left a happy and amazed lad.

At camps, Jim was always up at first light, hot water on for a cuppa and away for a morning wash in the stream (even if there was a toilet block on site!). On his return he would politely ask you to get up and then open and roll back both ends of the tent and allow the wind to hurtle through. Although a small lesson, one worth learning – get up and enjoy the best part of the day, and Jim always had a brew waiting to get you going!

In 1972 Jim was asked to add to his roles and become District Leader Trainer for Haymarket District. This was a role he loved, helping others to develop their skills and become enthusiastic leaders.  Jim was recognised for his efforts and awarded the Medal of Merit in 1976 and by 1978 was part of the Edinburgh Training Team and the Bonaly Committee.

Having been awarded the Silver Acorn in 1983, he became District Commissioner for Haymarket District in the same year and ran a very successful team of leaders that brought Haymarket to the fore in Edinburgh Scouting.  Jim was responsible for planning and running a particularly memorable event – the Cycleathon, where members and their families cycled round the grounds of Donaldson’s School to complete a marathon and raise money for charities. Jim was first there and last to leave!

In 1988 he took up the role of Edinburgh Area Commissioner General Duties and was a member of the Scottish Training Team.  Jim returned as District Chairman of Haymarket in 1990, running the Executive Committee and encouraging all Groups to play an active part. During this time, he was awarded the Bar to the Silver Acorn and became Honorary Scouter of the 10th Haymarket.

This was a role he truly revelled in, coming and speaking to the young people, attending every AGM, sharing his memories with joy and enjoying the friendship of all the Scouters. He was always encouraging and continually praised the efforts of the Group – ‘no one can do it like the 10th’ Jim was often heard to say!  He also was part of the team making arrangements for the 100th year celebrations, even writing to the Lord Lyon to request the inclusion off EST 1907 on the flag which appropriately covered his coffin earlier today.

Jim was of course a brother to all Scouts, extending his left hand with friendship and openness any time you met him, a trusted pair of hands who treated people with respect and care.

Jim continued in various roles including Chairman of Bonaly Fellowship right up until he retired from active service Aged 81. This sounds like the end but scouting was part of his life for so long Jim was always going to be involved. He remained a supporter through Haymarket Scout Fellowship, Corstorphine Scout Active Support Unit and of course regularly visited the 10th at the Douglas Brown Scout Hall.

Jim loved Burns and he Chaired the Scout Burns night at the Hall for many years – where he kept the honoured guests, Scouts and Executive Committee amused with his irreverent rendition of ‘Tae a Fert’!

In 2014 Jim received the highest award in Scouting, his Silver Wolf – which you can see was wholly warranted; he treasured it and was proud and honoured to wear it.

His letter from the Regional Commissioner fittingly said ‘you have made a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of young people and probably as many adults. You lived by, led by, and insisted on, the highest ideals of Scouting. Your service has been impeccable and your personal values and the standard of your leadership both an example and an inspiration’.

He was of course a Scouter to the end, often telling the staff at Murrayside Care Home when old Scouting friends came to visit, that some of his Scouts were here and they were just going upstairs for a Scout meeting.

Baden Powell said, ‘No one can pass through life, any more than he can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind, and those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way’.  Jim certainly left tracks for us to follow – not on the ground, but in our hearts, in our integrity, in our respectfulness, in our care for others, in our beliefs, in our voluntary service and in ourselves.

In true Scouting tradition he leaves this world a better place, with many better people across the world to this day following Jim’s example, lessons, guidance and tracks.

No one can ask more of him than that.

Cubs and Beavers have fun outdoors

Cubs and Beavers have fun outdoors

Cubs and Beavers from the 82nd Craigalmond (Cramond) Group had a brilliant September Camp at Netherurd, a fantastically equipped and located Guide centre. In total 42 Cubs and 5 Beavers spent two nights away with the camp theme of Space.

Activities at camp included zip lines, backwoods cooking, shelter building, rocket making (and launching), scavenger hunts and star gazing. Everyone who attended went on a very sunny hike that took us all up to the summit of a local hill with great views.

Thanks to a fantastic set of leaders and some thorough planning it was a very successful weekend! The camp was blessed with great weather for September and everyone went home very tired but happy!

A proper expedition – not just tourists!

Two groups of Explorers formed from Braid and Craigalmond carried out an excellent DofE Gold expedition over four days at the end of August, walking from Corrour Station and completing their circular route at Rannoch. 

One candidate unfortunately had to drop out on day 3 with an ankle problem but the other twelve completed the expedition in style, one group singing ‘Country road, take me home …’ to keep their spirits up on the last stretch. 

“It was fun.”  “I’m rather sad it’s over.”  “The views were spectacular.” “We really loved seeing a group of tourists watch us wade over the flooded causeway then turn back rather than do the same.” “The best bit was on the last day when we could see back up to the saddle we had climbed on the first day and we realised what we had achieved.”

They all had a sense of humour.  For instance, when asked how they had crossed the river the answer was “After considerable discussion and deliberation”.  And one commented at the debrief session near the end “No ticks, but there’s still a kilometre to go.”

Both groups enjoyed being out in the wilds with no phone signal and relying on burns for water.  They had built up their skills over the previous levels and really appreciated meeting and working together with new friends and having time to chat about things at the campsites.  They were delighted by the perfect weather: almost no rain and enough wind to keep the midges away for a lot of the time. They all intend to get back into the hills again.

The groups did very interesting presentations based on their purpose: one studying Gaelic place names, the other comparing the three big estates they walked through.

They can take a real pride in their achievement and are to be congratulated on it.  Thanks and congratulations are also due to the many adults who helped directly and indirectly with the training, practice and qualifying expeditions done at Bronze, Silver and Gold over several years, and without whom this would not have happened.

John Buchanan DofE Assessor, and ARC (Explorers)

Congratulations to Ben and Daniel, two Explorer Scouts on receiving the Young Leader Belt – one of Scouting’s top awards

Ben Galloway, Cramond Explorer Scout Unit, YL with 82nd Craigalmond Cubs

Daniel Kleinjan, Douglas Brown Explorer Scout Unit, YL with 10th Craigalmond Yukon Beavers

Congratulations to Ben and Daniel – two Explorer Scouts from Craigalmond District who have recently received one of Scouting’s top awards – The Young Leader Belt – which is awarded on completing 13 modules of accredited leadership and first aid training, as well as 4 practical assignments ( called missions ) while volunteering with a local Beaver, Cub or Scout section.

The Beavers, Cubs and Scouts benefit greatly from the enthusiasm, experience and commitment of Young Leaders like Daniel and Ben,  while the Young Leaders gain valuable skills for life in leadership, communication, planning, teamwork and demonstrating they are willing to take on responsibility as a leader and work as part of a team. These will serve them well in the future – whether that’s in education, employment, personal life or in many cases as future adult volunteers with Scouts.

Ben has been volunteering with the 82nd Craigalmond Cubs as well as being a member of the Cramond Explorer Scout Unit, while Daniel is a member of the Douglas Brown Explorer Scout Unit and Young Leader on placement with the 10th Craigalmond Yukon Beavers.

Ben and Daniel recently attended presentations from Craigalmond District Commissioner Mark Hesketh and Craigalmond District Explorer Scout Commissioner David Newton to recognise their success, thanks for their many hours as volunteers and the real difference they have made to the Beavers and Cubs in the District.

David Newton
DESC, Craigalmond District

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award leaders meet Earl of Forfar

The Earl of Forfar (who is better known as Prince Edward), met a group of our leaders at a reception in the City Chambers on 4 July for DofE leaders from across Edinburgh and the Lothians.  Simon Cocker of Meadows ESU, Sam Dickinson of Borestane ESU and Janet Paterson, DofE expedition organiser, represented Braid, Pentland and Craigalmond Districts respectively, along with John Buchanan, one of our two Regional Advisers for DofE.  We were accompanied by the new DofE Manager from SHQ, Calum Lorimer. 

At this very pleasant event we were able to report considerable success in organising DofE through Scouting in our Region: 56 young people have successfully completed their Bronze expedition this season and 18 Silvers and 14 Golds look forward to completing theirs.  The DofE awards dovetail closely with the Chief Scout’s Platinum and Diamond and with the Queen’s Scout Award.

Those of us present were very conscious that we were representing the many adults who contribute towards this success by helping with administration, training, supervision and assessment.  The best model is clearly that of cooperation within and across the Districts, as nobody can run DofE alone. 

Training and help are available and interested adults are encouraged to contact the Regional Adviser(s) for advice using dofe@sesscouts.org.uk. Any offers of assistance will be most welcome. It is also worth reminding young adult leaders that they can complete or start the Gold Award, as they have until the age of 25 to do so.

John Buchanan
Assistant Regional Commissioner (Explorers)

Bronze Award expedition

Silver Award expedition

Gold Award expedition

82nd Craigalmond Scouts visit MS Unicorn, a surviving sailing frigate, at their Easter camp in Douglaswood

The 82nd Craigalmond Scouts and leaders set off for their Easter camp, at Douglaswood on Thursday in glorious sunshine – what a contrast from the monsoon conditions we endured during last summer camp – and the sun continued to shine all camp. Douglaswood is an old RAF base set in the countryside north of Dundee – the facilities are excellent, all due to the endeavours of Scout Volunteers from the Dundee area.

We quickly got all the kit into the centre, allocated the Scouts to dorms and got out into the sun to enjoy volleyball, the obstacle course and boules before the first excellent meal cooked by our brilliant camp cook, Karen. We were joined by the rest of our Scouts at dinner and then got stuck into the activities based around our camp theme “Fortnite Unplugged” – yes, not a mobile phone in sight!  At this point we knew we had an excellent group of Scouts as they really got into making their “Fortnite structure” with some brilliant creativity across the four patrols – Happy Hamlets, Pleasant Park, Paradise Palms and Sunny Steps. We rounded off the first day with a camp fire where the Scouts led the singing for an hour or so before flag down.

Friday morning brought more sunshine. After the first camp inspection including the kitchen, toilets, hall and dorms (the Scouts earn their keep!!) we brought our Scout skills bases out into the sunshine. Over the next few hours the Scouts undertook badge activity work as they discussed first aid scenarios, practiced their map and compass work, put hammocks up (whilst a couple of our leaders gave instructions from their comfy chairs!!) and also helped prepare an excellent lunch including baked potatoes, salad and lentil soup.

We needed the calories as, during the afternoon in searing heat, we did some site maintenance on the road within the site – over three hours many tons of soil and dirt were removed and the local team were delighted with the effort that our Scouts put in. A special mention to Hector for his direction on the maintenance from the comfort of his camp chair!!

In the evening we had a Fortnite widegame and after a camp fire, the Scouts were asleep in minutes (a contrast to the first night).

On Saturday, we started the day with a Geocaching challenge with “treasure” hidden over various places on the site – it was a frantic next hour or so with some working in teams and others as individuals using their navigation skills to locate the items.  

In the afternoon we headed into Dundee, first visiting the MS Unicorn, a surviving sailing frigate of the successful Leda class which was built in 1824.  Chris, our guide, gave an excellent tour and the Scouts really enjoyed being part of the cannon crew, hearing about gruesome surgery carried out on the officers dining table, and getting Chris’s questions right (mostly by reading the little clues readily available). We then set off for the Olympia swimming pool where the Scouts and some bigger kids (the leaders) enjoyed cooling down in the wave machine and flumes. We rounded off our visit to Dundee with a group picture with Desperate Dan and then a meal. In the evening we had a games challenge featuring giant Jenga, Connect 4, blow football and indoor hockey. The final hockey game was between the Patrol Leaders and the “big kids” in a highly competitive game (an understatement!!) with the Leaders victorious. 

On Easter Sunday we did a “Scouts Own” session, watching a “100 people in a village” video and had an excellent discussion on inequality in the world. 

We then did our traditional Easter Egg Hunt on the site before heading off to Corrie Fee in Glen Cova. We set off in the heat taking in the magnificent scenery along the route before reaching the spectacular Corrie where we had drinks and cake bake next to a cooling stream before taking some group pictures and then heading home.

One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the Scouts walking arm in arm down to the cars singing “I will walk 500 miles”.

On our return to camp we had a wonderful BBQ – the burgers were so much better than the McDonalds version – followed by s’mores cooked on Swedish Torches. We rounded off the evening with our final camp fire and songs, led by Ansel and Ruaridh.  

Next morning, the Scouts had a Fortnite challenge game and the leaders packed up for home. We finished the camp with flag down and presentation of the prizes.

So, a superb camp, greatly helped by the good weather and the fact the Scouts were so well behaved, got involved so enthusiastically in the activities and got on so well with each other – hopefully lots of good memories were made. When asked what was her highlight, one Scout said “everything” which summed up the views of all at the camp.

Finally, a massive thanks to the leader team for giving up their time, preparing their activities and for being such good colleagues and friends. Roll on Summer Camp in July.  

Mike Treanor, Scout Leader, 82nd Craigalmond (Cramond) Scouts