Runwell Scouts (2)

Denis Ketley's Memories


I too remember repainting the roofing sheets with thick black paint. Reg Payne was our skip, he was a great scout leader. The highlight of my scouting experience was being selected in 1951 to go to the World Jamboree in Austria. There were two candidates from the 1st Runwell troop. Myself and Martin Pierce. A test was set to choose which of us was to go. We had to pack a rucksack as if we were to go on a weekend hike. It was judged by an independent scout leader, whose name I can’t remember, who lived in Billericay. We went on separate occasions to have our kit checked and I came out in front.

For a 15 year old boy the experience was pretty unique. 1951 was well before most people traveled abroad. The journey was by train through France and Switzerland and took 2 days. I wrote a journal as a record of my trip. The original hand written account complete with photos is held in the County Records Office. When I offered it to them they were very happy to keep it, as it is rare to have a document written by a boy in its original form. It is held in the Boy Scouts section and available for anyone to read for years to come.

When I was too old to be a Scout I joined the Senior Scouts under Phil Hawes, who lived at the top of Brock Hill. One time he set us a night task. We loaded our rucksacks into his trailer, and he was to drive us to an unknown destination, and using a map and compass we had to find our way back. On arrival we went to unload the trailer, but there was no trailer. It was later found still on his drive; he had not connected it to his car.

I went on to become the assistant Scoutmaster The old HQ had a Cubs den. It was located at the far end of the building above the toilets. You had to climb a ladder to get up to it. Scouts were not allowed in. However one evening, our meeting had just begun when we had very bad Summer storm. The rain came down in torrents, hammering on the roof, making a terrific din. The rain went on for a long time. So long that the area around the HQ became flooded It came into the building and we were forced to go up into the den. The water continued to rise and I became worried we may get trapped, so we waded outside and made our way up the slope to the road. The water was rushing down and was difficult to walk against it. I divided the boys into groups who lived near to each other and set them of home. After I had led one group, I then went to each of their houses to make sure they were safe.

I got married in Wickford Church and to my surprise the Scouts formed an arch outside using staves. We moved to Sandon and lost touch.


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