An organisation established over 100 years ago that now gives hundreds of thousands of youngsters something ‘completely different’ to do on week nights and weekends has acknowledged the leadership skills of three dedicated local members.
At a special ceremony Ann Gilchrist, Scout district commissioner for Falkirk and two of her most experienced ‘lieutenants’, Frank Fotheringham and Hamish Scott, were presented with awards on behalf of Chief Scout Bear Grylls by the Chief Commissioner for Scotland Graham Haddock in recognition of over 100 years service between them.
Ann received the Silver Wolf and Frank and Hamish a bar to their Silver Acorn for their distinguished contribution.
The prestigious Silver Wolf is the highest award available to any member of the movement and the unrestricted gift of the UK’s chief scout.
Ann has been involved in scouting locally for 42 years.
She was a member of the Greenhill 1st Brownie Pack until the age of 11 - but has the elders of Bonnybridge Parish Church to thank for sparking her interest in Robert Baden-Powell’s organisation six years later.
It was at their invitation she and her twin sister. Irene, became involved with the cub section run by the 27th Bonnybridge Scouts.
Although marriage, a job and the responsibility of raising a family of three restricted her involvement for a number of years, in 1989 she accepted an invitation from Hamish, the district commissioner for Falkirk at the time, to become assistant district commissioner for cub scouts in the area.
She then became assistant area commissioner for Forth Valley cub scouts, district commissioner for Grangemouth and, when Grangemouth and Falkirk districts amalgamated following the formation of Forth Region Scouts, assistant district commissioner for Falkirk in charge of adult leader training.
Ann was appointed district commissioner for Falkirk 18 months ago and is now responsible for 14 Scout groups, six Explorer units and one Network unit across the district with a combined membership of over 1000.
Given her contribution, it is clear the Silver Wolf is well deserved, but Ann (64), from Watson Street, Falkirk, and recently retired as superintendent physiotherapist at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, admits to being “humbled” by it.
She said: “When I received the letter, I have to say I got quite emotional. I’ve always put the people awarded the Silver Wolf up there with Baden-Powell as being so important to the scout movement and now to be one of them really leaves me feeling quite humble. Saying I’m ‘delighted’ really doesn’t cover it. Everytime I wear it I feel very proud.
“Scouting has been a big part of my life, but I’ve taken an awful lot of satisfaction from being involved and seeing young people develop. It seems ridiculous getting rewarded for something I enjoy doing so much.”
Frank (59) from Windsor Road, Falkirk, will celebrate 40 years as a Scout leader on 2016.
The retired community learning disability nurse with Forth Valley NHS, is the current boss of the 62nd Scouts and Cross Explorer unit at Larbert.
He was never in the cubs, but welcomed to Falkirk 41st Scouts in Grahams Road at the age of 11 where he quickly moved up the ranks. When 34th Bainsford needed a leader he took on the job and by 1990 was district commissioner for Falkirk.
Across the area numbers were good, but leaders were few so Frank opted to ‘help out’ where he could.
He said: “It’s probably something I should not have been doing as district commissioner, but I helped out here and there and when I got involved with the 62nds realised that running a scout troop was what I wanted to do so gave up the role of commissioner around 1995 to focus on that.
“Next year I’ll celebrate 40 years as a leader and when I think about all the changes that have taken place within the scout movement over all these years will still be pleased that I’ve been involved.
“To help bring young people together to work together and learn together to become better young people through the challenges scouting offers has been very satisfying.”
Hamish Scott (61) is group scout leader of 1st Falkirk, formerly 14th Stirlingshire, based at The Pleasance.
By the time he left to study part-time for an MEd at Stirling University in 1990 he had been assistant leader and Scout leader, assistant district commissioner (Scouts) and district commissioner for Falkirk. He took up his current role in 1993.
Hamish, a retired PE teacher from Westerglen Road, Falkirk, said: “Receiving the award was both heartwarming and humbling at the same time. We never seek thanks, we do what we do because we enjoy it. We want to work with and for young people and pass on skills we think will be beneficial and values we believe are worthwhile to allow them to play a constructive role in society.”