A very Happy New Year to you all! I hope you had a super Christmas. It has been a quiet couple of months for me comparatively speaking!
The African Expedition Camp was a joy to visit, the excitement is really building up now. Thank you, Paddy, for the gift you gave me. I’ll treasure it always.
The Stowmarket Show was excellent, the youngsters were quite amazing. Thank you, Clare Beavers, for your gift and card. It has pride of place on my window sill.
All the Carol services this year were just wonderful, the Orwell service with the Salvation Army is always a highlight. A special thanks to Stowmarket for letting the service be hijacked for my farewell. I felt very humbled by the gifts from the County. I shall use the gardening vouchers to buy something special as a lasting memory of my time as County Commissioner. The beautiful vase will hold all the flowers I’ll be growing! The Jamboree board just blew me away. Thank you so much to all the Contingent for their thoughtfulness.
One of the highlights of the year was the Cub 100 promise evening. I had the pleasure of being with Bury St Edmunds District. Thank you to all the ADCs Cub Scouts for making the year so memorable for the Cubs. Don’t forget MOOT is only eight months away. You won’t’ want to miss it!
Richard Freeman has stepped down as County Archivist and Barry Thomas has now taken over that role. I am indebted to Richard for all he has done to preserve our history. Thank you so much. And of course, there was the book written by Richard and Keven Mulley - “100 years of Scouting in Suffolk”, a real labour of love.
Looking back on my time as County Commissioner, I have been on an amazing journey and I am in awe of the Leaders we have in Suffolk. Among some of the highlights were all the camps I visited: Stowmarket District Cub camp was Christmas in June - what memories; the MOOT Camp, what fun I had; Bear Grylls’ visit, the organisation that it took and what a success it was; Lowestoft Reunion Camp; Stowmarket’s District Camp; 3rd Sudbury’s Centenary Day and Sudbury District’s Beaver Scout sleepover - Christmas and Halloween all in a day; Sudboree; the Orwell District Scout Camp and Beaver sleepover where we were all soaked to the skin but it didn’t stop the fun! The Deben Link Camp run by Young Leaders the Lowestoft Camp where I hardly recognised the Leaders dressed as characters from Harry Potter, I’m not sure who was having the most fun! Thank you, Steve Bell, for letting me take the controls of your aeroplane.
The Beaver outings to Banham Zoo arranged by David Wardley and the BeWilderwood trip to celebrate 30 years of Beaver Scouts, where Brian Harvey made sure that 1,500 of us enjoyed the day. We had such fun. All the Suffolk Shows where most years we have been freezing cold. The Gang Shows which just get better every year WOW.
I have been so proud of all the activities in the County. The Explorer Belts to Poland and Finland. There is another planned as part of the South African Expedition and a further one in 2019; the County Scout Camp which was held in Pembrokeshire; the CMAT trips to Scotland; the Round Britain sailing with Adventures Offshore; and the County Wet Weekends to name just a few.
There have been Section camps which took young people to such places as the Outer Hebrides, the Lake District and more. 1st Carlton Colville’s summer camp in America. What fantastic opportunities for our young people!
Another highlight for me was to attend the World Scout Jamboree in Japan and to watch our contingent develop. They were such a joy to be with. While going around the County talking to all our young folk I know our future is in safe hands. I am particularly proud of our Youth Commissioners, Ollie Smith and Bethany Farnell. Ah, so many memories, too many to put down on paper.
I have always been impressed with the RN and RAF Inspections that I have been to. I am full of admiration for the Leaders and youngsters who work so hard to keep this recognition current.
I’ll not dwell too much on Compass except to say thank you to you all for your patience, especially to Carl Gloess and the Compass Super Users for keeping the County on track and up to date - no mean feat I can tell you.
My role has been made easier with the help and friendship of my Core Team, Leigh Foster, Peter Jarvis, Keith Gleen and Jane Dickinson. I have been truly blessed to have such inspirational leaders with me. Thank you to my ACCs and the County Training Team who work tirelessly for the County, and the County Executive Committee, especially Peter Jones, Keven Mulley and Peter Buckle. They have kept me on the straight and narrow. Not forgetting the District Commissioners. They have my utmost respect and admiration for the work they do.
Part of the Vision for 2018 is that we will all feel proud and I know all of you should feel very proud especially as you have increased youth membership by 18% over the last seven years. Adult membership has increased by over 20% in the same period.
I do hope 2017 will be a great year for you all. I know I’ve said it before but never underestimate the good you are doing and the difference you make to the lives of young people. Thank you so much for all the work you do for Scouting in Suffolk.
It has been a privilege to lead the County.