Mike Sims

The sad and sudden death of Mike Sims at the age of 62 occurred recently.

Mike came from a Scouting family. His parents, Gordon and Maida, were active over a long period with Gordon serving as DC of Inverleith for 18 years and Maida being CSL at the 23rd. Gordon was also very involved with the Gang Show for many years. Mike married Joan Ainslie, daughter of Fred Ainslie who was a long serving member and Treasurer of the Edinburgh Executive. With such a background, it was inevitable that Mike would become deeply involved in Scouting.

He was a Scout and Venture Scout at the 23rd and, at the age of 20, became a leader with the 87th in Boswall Parkway. After serving as SL for a number of years he became ADC Scouts and then DC of Inverleith as his father had been. He also followed his father with his long term commitment to the Gang Show during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Mike also had a significant role in adult training in the period from mid 1980s until about 2007 running, among other things, GSL and Commissioner modules and Leadership 2 courses.

Outside Scouting he was a member and for a while Treasurer of Edinburgh Rotary Club, a member of Edinburgh High Constables and a member of Edinburgh Merchant Company where, having served on the Master’s Court, he went on to chair the Governing Council of Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools.

 Service and commitment to the Scout Movement as well as to the community in general were the constant and continuing threads that ran throughout Mike’s life.

 Dick Allan,
President, South East Scotland Scouts.

One Year On… and it’s been a good year

The One Year On event held on 28 Feb 2019 showed us how far our Region has travelled since our earlier event (known as the ‘January Jolly’) in 2018. We wanted to give people a sense of what’s been achieved at Regional level in the past year and our plans for the coming year. We also wanted to focus on how we could encourage more people to take part in adventurous activities in 2019 – a core part of what we do in Scouting!

There was a mixture of Regional Executive Committee members, Regional Leadership Team members and our Regional Assessors for Adventurous Activities. About 50 people attended along with Andrew Sharkey, Chief Commissioner, Scouts Scotland.

John Cannon and Margery Naylor gave short presentations on all that had been achieved over the last year and everyone joined in to develop our thinking about how we could all promote adventurous activities. This was a key issue in the Engagement sessions and online survey we carried out in 2018. We will let you know what we are going to do about it shortly.

Sharkey presented several people with awards and then spoke movingly about his involvement in Scouting, as a young person, as a leader and as a parent. Finally, he joined a panel with us to answer questions from the floor. He did so in a very positive and pragmatic way and we really appreciated the time he took to come after a busy Parents’ Evening, in the school where he is the Headteacher. Our organisation will enjoy and benefit from his leadership. 

And our thanks go to Douglas Allan, DC Borders, for the unflappable way he chaired the event and to Graeme Robertson, Regional Vice Chair, for all his hard work in preparation for the event.   

And the end of the evening Sharkey said “I am really impressed with what you are doing in South East Scotland. There was so much laughter and good humour when I walked into the room. It was great to be with you.”


John Cannon                          Margery Naylor
Regional Chair                       Regional Commissioner

See the Chairman’s slides here

Read the Regional Commissioner’s talk:

 The year 2018 has been a busy and rewarding time for everyone in the Region. Scouting continues to be a success story – by every measure. It has never been stronger or been making more of an impact. The Census shows that we have increased our membership of young people and adults by about 2.2% across the Region. We have increased the number of leaders in almost every District in 2018. And we have increased the number of Scouts by 6%. But there are some dips in one or two areas in our membership numbers, and we need to work in 2019 understand why this is and to do something to improve the situation.

 Our Regional Strategy follows the national UK and Scottish long term strategies in focusing on the three pillars – People, Programme and Perception.

In relation to ‘People’ we now have a full Regional Leadership Team with District Commissioners in every District. This is a major achievement because our District Commissioners are the engine room of Scouting in our Region, and they work tirelessly to ensure that Scouting goes from strength to strength and will be fun and will be safe for young people

So, I am truly delighted to be able to let you know that Mike Treanor, our Scouting Support Officer, will join us on 1 July 2019. He will support the work that is done by leaders and all our adult volunteers, day by day, week by week, year in and year out, such as running meetings, managing camps, and organising fundraising events. He has an in-depth knowledge of Scouting as he is currently a Scout leader. His number one priority is to promote the recruitment and retention of new leaders.

In relation to ‘Programme’ we want to focus on outdoor and adventurous activities in 2019. Why? Because the Engagement and Consultation exercise carried out by Graeme Robertson and Martin Elliot in the autumn of 2018, showed that there were three overriding concerns for our adult volunteers:

  1. First – we need more leaders and they need more help, training and support: And we have recruited a Scouting Support Officer.
  2. Second- we need to improve Bonaly: We have recruited a new Centre Manager.
  3. Third – we need to provide more assistance for leaders to run more outdoor and adventurous activities:

So why are we going to focus in 2019 on outdoor and adventurous activities? Because the core values of Scouting, as expressed by Baden Powell, have never changed. He said:

  • “A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room.”
  • “The open-air is the real objective of Scouting and the key to its success.”

And the vision for Scouting nationally is that 50% of all programmes should be about outdoor and adventurous activities. A big ask you may think, until someone counted up the hours that leaders spend teaching young people how to light fires, pitch tents, go orienteering or bike riding around the local paths in their evening meetings – all of these are related activities about getting young people out of doors.

For a start, we have Nights Away Advisers in every District. Overall, we have 12 of these experienced people making sure that there are enough Nights Away Permit holders so that every young person has the opportunity to camp and that camps are run safely and happily. We now have 312 Nights Away permit holders in our Region, holding a total of 454 permits.

And we have a greatly expanded team of Regional Assessors for Adventurous Activities. We now have 12 Regional Assessors. Lawrence Mitchell is our Regional Adviser for Adventurous Activities and Bruce MacDonald is the Regional Manager of the Permits for Adventurous Activities. Lawrence and Bruce have, between them, doubled the number of Regional Assessors for adventurous activities permits over the last year – a critical factor in enabling young people to experience outdoor activities. The Regional Assessors are very clear that they are not just here to assess people for permits. They are happy to advise all leaders on how to undertake adventurous activities as well and to prepare leaders for their permits.

And in case you are wondering how many Adventurous Activities are permitted to our young people, there are 95 and they range from kayaking, sailing, hill walking and mountain climbing through land yachting, laser games, narrow boating, and Nerf guns to zorbing. Who knows the half of them? Not all of them need permit holders to run these activities, but all have guidance sheets on the UK Scout website, so we do encourage leaders to use them. Why? Because there can be some tricky issues such as the rules for flying drones!

There are, inevitably, some roles we still need to fill – especially the Regional Adviser for International camps and trips. We will be looking to find a (hopefully willing) volunteer for this role as the preparation and scrutiny for international camps and trips is exhaustive and exhausting but absolutely essential if we are to ensure the safety and enjoyment of both leaders and young people abroad.

We do, as a Region, provide some great activities for our young people. Longcraig Scout Centre is flourishing, after a difficult time in 2017. Thanks to the hard work and enormous time commitment of the 46 or so volunteers members of the Active Support Unit led by Malcolm Leckie, they provided over 1,000 sessions on the water for young people in 2018.

The Regional Leadership Team has also worked hard with the Regional Executive Committee members to analyse and improve the services offered at Bonaly Centre. We have recruited Mark Campbell to be our new Centre Manager. He has a proven track record in successfully running outdoor centres, so we are confident that the future improvement of Bonaly, begun under John Bruce’s very able leadership, will be assured when John reverts to being a Trustee! And the Bonaly Business Planning Group has been working hard to set out the direction of travel for Mark. One of the key problems we want to address is the lack of ownership held by some of our Scout groups for Bonaly. One small step in doing this is the BBPG’s recommendation that we call Bonaly the ‘Bonaly Scout Centre’. And we are reviewing the price of the instructor-led activities to make them more competitive with prices at other centres.

Finally, we will need to think hard in 2019 about how we improve the Perception of Scouting amongst the public. We believe that, by and large, Scouting is well regarded locally, but we do know that we can all do more to let people know about the great opportunities we offer young people and their great achievements, such as raising considerable funds for people in need – for example the Big Sleep out in Princes St Gardens in 2018.

We know that Scouting is successful in our Region because of the dedication of our leaders and supporters, who are all volunteers. Your time, talents, skills and sense of humour make you a real asset to this Region. We want to say, on behalf of all the young people in Scouting in our Region, ‘Thank you’ to all our leaders and volunteers who have given so much to providing the very best of Scouting over the last year – and will do so again, in 2019!

Medal Joy for one of our Scout Leaders

Michael Stevenson an Assistant Beaver Leader at the 26th (Craigsbank) Craigalmond Scout Group, has just returned from the Special Olympics World Games held in Abu Dhabi as a member of the Special Olympics Great Britain team.

Michael competed in the Ten Pin Bowling competition winning a Silver medal in the Singles competition, finishing 7th in the Team event and 8th in the Doubles.  Michael has been a member of the Special Olympics Lothian Bowling Team for 3 years and has competed in Regional competitions and at the National Summer Games in Sheffield in 2017 winning a Silver Medal in the Doubles. Michael parents and brother attended the Games and are very proud of his achievements.

The World Games were attended by 7500 athletes from 200 countries competing in 24 sports over 7 days.

Special Olympics Lothians mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for all children and adults with intellectual (learning) disabilities – giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in sharing skills, gifts and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.



Win a free weekend in the new Bell Tents at Bonaly!

Can you think of a great name for the new Bell Tents camp at Bonaly?

Involve your young people in our competition and win a free weekend for your Beaver or Cub section!

Please send your suggestions for names to Neil Hogg, Assistant Regional Commissioner (Section Support – Cub Scouts), at info@sesscouts.org.uk

Neil is going to chair the panel which decides the winning name. We would like to have a name with instant appeal to young people. So how about something such as Battlefield Camp, or Stargazer Camp, or Aztec Camp, or Touareg Tents? You tell us what your young people think!

Our tepees have reached the end of the working life and we have replaced them with three Bell Tents. They are available for those camps where you want the outdoor experience without the hassle of pitching tents. These are particularly attractive for Beaver (or any) one night sleep overs.

The three Bell Tents are permanently erected on decking platforms.  There are 2 Bell Tents which sleep 6 persons in each and 1 Bell Tent which sleeps 10 persons. Camping mats are supplied. There is a site hut for cooking or storing equipment, and a small campfire area with seating. There is also an area for erecting more tents. More information at https://sesscouts.org.uk/camping/ or at the Bonaly office: 0131 441 1878.

Closing dates for entries is Sunday 5 May 2019. Don’t delay – get thinking now!

John Bruce, Manager Bonaly Scout Centre, and Neil Hogg, ARC Cubs  

Graham Carrington – Acting Regional Advisor (International)

We are delighted to announce that Graham has agreed to be our Regional Adviser (Acting) because Diane Marshall has given up this role while she focuses on being the Manager of the Bonaly ASU and DRC. Thank you, Diane, very much indeed for all the work you have put into supporting our International expeditions.

Graham is a member of the SHQ International Support team with responsibility for Visits Abroad Compliance – this includes training people on the workings of the Visits Abroad process, signing off SHQ trips & providing support to anyone who comes looking for it in relation to Visits Abroad. Professionally Graham is a Business and Systems Analyst with a love of tea.

Graham has been a member of the movement since being a Beaver; internationally he’s concentrated on the trips with Adventurous Activities, going to Norway, Italian, French & Swiss Alps & Greenland (amongst others). Currently he’s a member of the leadership team for the SHQ trip to Madagascar. Weekly he’s an Assistant Explorer Scout Leader in West Lothian and a D of E advisor in his home of West Lancashire (Englandshire).

Whilst this is only a temporary appointment Graham is very much looking forward to assisting leaders from SE region in providing quality, compliant &, most importantly, safe Visits Abroad. For more information on the Visits Abroad process; what it is, when you need to follow it etc. please see the SHQ Supporting Document.

We are sure everyone in the Region will join us in welcoming Graham and thanking him very much indeed for taking on this really important role for us, while we look for someone to step up to being our RA (I).

Any volunteers?

Margery Naylor, Regional Commissioner

Bonnyrigg Scouts’ Extreme Survival Camp

Seven Scouts and one Explorer from Bonnyrigg took part in an Extreme Survival Camp over the weekend 8-10 February.

Five of the group assembled at Currie Wood, across the river from the Midlothian District campsite at Borthwick, on the Friday afternoon. Leaders Peter Hyde from Bonnyrigg and Adrian Marchant from Penicuik were on hand to show the Scouts how to survive the weekend without many of the camping aids which Scouts might take for granted.

Scouts crossing the river to their first night’s campsite

The first task was to build a shelter for the night by stretching a rope between two trees and covering it with a tarpaulin to make it keep those sleeping under it dry all night.

Then the Scouts were shown how to start a fire without matches and they soon learned to gather enough wood to keep it going in order to cook their dinner and keep them warm all evening.

Dinner was squirrel which was supplied by a specialist game dealer. The Scouts were shown how to prepare the squirrel and cook it into a stew with vegetables to make a good evening meal. Fortunately, they managed to achieve this during daylight hours although this meant that the rest of the evening was spent keeping each other’s company around the fire until an early night beckoned.

Saturday morning saw a 6am start with the fire restarted and breakfast underway. Striking camp, the Scouts had to work out how they were going to walk cross country to Saturday night’s campsite on the edge of Fala Moor.

Scouts planning their route from Borthwick to Fala

The Scouts set off in good heart and hiked across farmland for a distance of 4 miles. Permission had been obtained from the farmers en route and at least one helped the Scouts on their way.

Scouts reach the second night’s campsite

Arriving at the edge of Fala Moor the Scouts found that their second night’s campsite was in a forest with plenty of tree cover. This time the Scouts could choose to bivouac under the trees and together they set up camp in the forest.

Three Scouts and Erika joined the group for the Saturday night 

Three more Scouts joined the group for the Saturday night. One 10-year old had only been a Scout for three weeks and this was his first camp. Leader Erika Pryde from Bonnyrigg also joined the group for the second night.

Two fires were quickly lit and dinner prepared. On the menu tonight was woodpigeon which was prepared after instruction from the leaders and cooked into a stew with vegetables. S’mores followed for dessert and the fire. Scouts quickly learn that a spoon does nearly everything!

Dinner was interrupted by a visit from the District Commissioner who found the 8 young people in good heart and enjoying their survival experience. The Scouts found that this sort of camp is very demanding at times and at other times, especially in the evening, they had to amuse themselves as a lot of time was spent doing nothing. None of this deterred any of the Scouts from enjoying the experience.

Spelling “Scouts” with sticks from the fire

The Scouts all learned essential survival skills over the weekend. They camped outside without tents, used knives to gut and prepared meat for stew, and they learned to light fires without matches. They planned their route across country to wild camp on the Saturday evening.

The weather was kind to the Scouts this year but in past years the camp has taken place in several feet of snow. Who knows what weather next year’s camp might experience? The Scouts learned how to keep warm and dry and also the importance of gathering sufficient wood to keep a fire burning. Water is a precious commodity which had to be collected and used sparingly.

The Scouts learnt a lot and were encouraged to think outside the box. Information came thick and fast and the Scouts were encouraged to bring a small note book and pen for the day when they find themselves teaching these skills to other Scouts. Peter still has his notebook from his survival skills training and he still refers to it regularly.

Big thanks go to Peter Hyde for organising the event and getting permissions from the landowners involved. Thanks too to Adrian and Erika for supporting the event and giving eight young people the opportunity to earn their Survival Skills Badge. Photo Credits: Adrian Marchant

Martin Browne, District Commissioner, Midlothian District