On 29th February 2020, I attended a Bushscout UK event at Bonaly Scout Centre and met a wonderful lady named Evelyn Torrance who has been involved in Scouting for about 66 years!!! So, I thought I would find out more about Evelyn and share her story (many thanks to Evelyn, Diane Marshall and Rob Whitelaw for their input).
Evelyn was in the Brownies and Guides and when she was 15 in 1951, she got a job with the Union Bank (now the Bank of Scotland). Her manager was golfing with a Scout Leader who suggested Evelyn support the Cubs, so she became a Young Leader and 3 years later, on the 6th December 1954 she became “Assistant Cub Master” with the 10th Leith Group.
She worked closely with her friends Mary Gray and Jean Sutherland who ran the nearby 5th and 20th Leith Groups. When they merged to form the 5th Leith, Evelyn continued her commitment to the 5th working alongside Mary Porteous in the Cub section whilst Jean and Mary went onto District appointments. Evelyn fondly remembers helping “Tracker” (Tom Attenborough) at that time, to run the 7th Leith Beavers whilst she also ran the 5th.
In her Scouting career, Evelyn has also undertaken other District roles including being a member of the District Executive, District Badge Secretary (which she now shares with Bob Robinson) and she was also Treasurer of the Leith District Fellowship and helped with the Active Support Unit. She is currently a Beaver Section Leader at Pilrig which is in Edinburgh North East District. Evelyn’s strengths are in crafts and handiwork skills and she loves passing these onto her young people.
A key highlight for Evelyn was attending the 18th World Scout Jamboree in Holland in 1995 and a Fellowship trip to Belgium in the late 90’s. Evelyn also took Cub Packs to London in 1960’s when the cost of the bus trip was £3.50 in “old money”. She has also been involved in various district camps and fun days.
Evelyn has been formally recognised for her service to Scouting receiving the Medal of Merit in 1978, the Bar to the Medal of Merit in 1999, the Silver Acorn in 2007 and the Chief Scout’s 60 Years of Service Award in 2015!!
When asked what she liked most about Scouting, Evelyn said she gets most pleasure from working with the young people and making so many friends, both within Scouting and also with many parents of the young-people.
Evelyn recounted a story when last year, she was at a funeral of a family member of three brothers who used to be in Evelyn’s Cub Pack many years ago. She approached them, but was not sure if they would remember her. So, she went to shake one of their hands with her left hand – one of the brothers then recognised Evelyn and said “you were our Cub Leader and I thought you were old then!!”
Evelyn said she is missing Scouting so much at this time but she is keeping herself busy and looking forward to when we can all get back to Scouting, hopefully in the not too distant future.
Rob Whitelaw, District Commissioner said “I’ve always been so impressed with the energy, dedication and commitment that Evelyn gives to Scouting. She turns up every week to help run the Beaver Colony at Pilrig and is so popular with the young people and leaders. Always keen to help out wherever possible, I think that Evelyn is a shining example to the organisation. Her enthusiasm is infectious and I hope to learn the secret to her boundless energy. Thank you Evelyn for all that you do for Scouting in Edinburgh North East District”
I am sure you will join me in congratulating Evelyn on the service she has given to Scouting over the many years. Thank-you Evelyn.
Scouting Support Officer