Chorleywood Scouts is 60 years old this year. The first permanent Scout headquarters in Chorleywood came about in 1953 when Metropolitan Country Estates made a site in Orchard Drive available for £25. Leader at the time, Ralph Gullett, soon encouraged parents to get involved in preparing the uneven ground
“On several evenings a week and on Saturdays bowler hats and umbrellas were discarded for gumboots, axes, shovels and wheelbarrows.” reported Fred Horne.
An old army hut was used to make the side walls of the new building. Professionals carried out bricklaying, roofing and flooring and the rest was completed by volunteers. Scout HQ opened over 2 years later on 16 September,1956 and the building has been used ever since. Sixty years on it is currently undergoing an overhaul.
Ralph Gullett was much respected by everybody for his commitment and enthusiastic leadership lasting over 40 years.
Daughter Hilary still lives in Chorleywood,
“They were such good times. It was a lot of fun – they put on Gang Shows in the Memorial Hall with songs and sketches. Dad got to meet a lot of people including Baden Powell and celebrities. Cub leader Heather Haddock worked in the film industry and she persuaded television presenter Michael Aspel to visit! ”
It was difficult saying no to Ralph Gullett.
When Dennis Darling moved to Chorleywood he called in local builder Ralph to work on his Edwardian house in Haddon Road
“By the time Ralph left not only had he re-pointed my chimney but I had agreed to help out at Scouts for an hour every Friday! We all loved it. The pressure of work would disappear immediately. I had a fun abseiling, canoeing and climbing and helped nine different scout leaders in 30 years. It’s so rewarding – you witness boys turning into fin people with self reliance and leadership skills.”
Scouts have been helping our community for over a century. Since the mid 70s girls have been part of the troops.
Past projects here include producing braille for Chorleywood College for the Blind, assisting with Hurstleigh Homes renovations, fundraising, planting spring bulbs and clearing litter. In the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year they organised a coronation beacon and fireworks display on the Common.
Current Scout Group leader David Ponsford has scouting in the family too as his father Ken worked extensively with Ralph in the early years.
“Today Scouting is more popular than ever and we have over 250 children meeting weekly Chorleywood.” says David, “We run an Explorer Group, three Scout troops, two cub packs and the Beaver colony is overflowing. They all learn traditional Scouting skills like firelighting and map reading but also go kayaking, climbing, and camping in old fashioned tents. Chorleywood has sent delegates to 14 of the last 18 World Jamborees in Japan, Korea, Chile, Australia and even to Gilwell where the Scouting movement started. Almost every astronaut has a Scouting background, so now we have an astronaut’s badge !”
“Camp changes people in so many ways” adds Morag Watkins who spent thirteen years as leader, “We would take 30 children away and bring 30 children back but they seeemed a different 30! “
” We have been celebrating the Cub Scout Centenary Cubs100 this year” says CW Cub leader Sarah Wright,” We joined a county camp where were involved in all sorts of activities from archery, rifle shooting, abseiling and climbing to an inflatable assault course and a late night laser light show!”
“ More adult leaders are desperately needed in Chorleywood .” adds CW Scouts Chair /Leader Llewellyn Watkins “It’s not essential to have been a scout, anybody with a love of the outdoors and adventure will enjoy it.”
“It is brilliant way to spend free time for those who have high powered jobs” adds Dennis, “You get far more out more than you put in.”
The first Chorleywood troop of Baden Powell Boy Scouts met at Beechcroft Cottage, Shire Lane on 30 September,1910. Subscription was a penny a week which went towards buying tents and cooking utensils. After a gap during the war years the troop reformed and re-registered as 1st Chorleywood, moved down to Batchworth Lake in Ricky and became a sea scout group. By the mid 40s the group was back in Chorleywood meeting at Florence Brown Hall and the 1948 camp took place at Phillipshill Woods. Scout HQ at Orchard Drive was opened in 1956 .