1st East Grinstead Scout Group
Centenary 1908 - 2008

On some winter nights 'Doc' would take us onto King George's Field where, thanks to the blackout precautions, we could gaze at a perfect starlit sky and be shown the wonders of the universe. He had a great knowledge of astronomy and many other subjects. Thursday evenings were for physical training, gymnastics and boxing under the eagle eye of 'Doc'. Our scout hall had a polished wood-block floor on which NO-ONE was allowed to wear footwear at ANY time - except 'Doc'! It was well equipped with wall-bars, parallel bars, vaulting horse, a box, ropes, rings and long mats. I was in my element and loved every moment. It was always a treat too when one of the pre-war Rover crew on leave from the services came and spent time with us.

During the summer gym nights would sometimes be held on the lawn at 'Doc 's house, Old Stone House in the High Street. The gardens stretched to the Lawn Tennis Club in Ship Street. We finished with a shower from the garden hose! Sometimes patrol leaders' meetings were held indoors, an experience never to be forgotten. What a house, what beautiful furniture, what memories!

Trying to maintain tradition we did manage the occasional gym show, either for fund-raising for the war effort or by invitation. Mentioning the war effort reminds me of our contribution: we collected waste paper and, putting our trek cart to good use, delivered it to the council depot in Durkins Road.

Our camping activities were restricted to Broadstone Warren on occasions and our own site at Nutley. Pulling a trek cart full of gear is a far cry from the modes of transport and destinations of today's scouts but with Ashdown Forest all around us what else did we need?

It was not until the summer of 1945 that we experienced travelling in the back of a lorry to join the Sussex county scout camp in Arundel Park. We had one day off camp to visit Littlehampton. Whilst we were dipping in the briny we were able to witness a Gloster Meteor attempting and breaking the air-speed record at 606 m.p.h. What excitement! I have always wondered why they flew at almost sea level from Bognor to Worthing.

Friday was sports day and the troop acquitted itself well against considerable opposition. In the senior cross-country, running against some much older than I, I came in second. My runner's-up prize was a Gilwell axe, which I still have. A good time was had by all 400 of us!

I had had a good time ever since I joined the illustrious First East Grinstead. Many happy days and many happy memories and, despite the war, devoid of fear. We owed it all to 'Doc', a truly amazing man who, instead of living a life of leisure, devoted his time and wealth to the enrichment of several decades of boys, countless numbers who revered him and who always addressed him as Sir.
He was worthy of it.                                                                                                                 Next