History of Great Horwood Scouts & Guides Liz Nicholls
Great Horwood Scouting and Guiding has a long history. Photographs show that the Scout Troop began here before the Great War. Girl Guides may have been active too as they were meeting shortly after. With a few short breaks, village Scouting and Guiding has flourished ever since.
Great Horwood Boy Scouts, 1914.
Great Horwood Girl Guides, 1923.
In the 1950s the Guides, captained by Mary Irving (the Reverend C. E. Last’s housekeeper), held their weekly meetings at the Rectory (now Glebe House). If it was fine the meeting would be on the lawn under the large Monkey Puzzle tree. They would explore the outbuildings, did cooking in the rectory kitchen and had great fun doing treasure hunts around the village. Sometimes the Guides held a campfire by the pond that is now within the school conservation area. At the time this field was part of the Rectory grounds. If the weather was wet the Guides would meet in the Rectory scullery. Nurse Ashford came on occasion to teach the Guides ‘nursing’ and showed them how to make a bed properly with hospital corners. In 1961 Dorothy Davenport/ Dominey became Guide Leader.While the Brownies have an almost unbroken continuity in Great Horwood, the Guides have experienced breaks. In 1978 Pat Howard re-formed the Guide Company. Two Guides, Holly McCarthy and Carole Carter, achieved their Queen’s Guide Award. Carol went on to succeed Pat as Guide Leader and she in turn was succeeded by Sue Deli.Jan Kennedy and Vera (?) then ran Guides and also Rangers for some years.The Guide section closed in the late 1990s due to difficulty in recruiting leaders and did not reopen until October 2016.
The Brownie pack opened in 1954(?). Brown Owl was Judy Dunham who lived in Spring Lane and Tawny Owl was Ella Williams who lived in Devon House. Brownie meetings were held in their Leaders’ homes and gardens in the 1950s. Activities included nature study, games and working towards badges.By the late 1970s the Brownies were meeting in the old school building and Maureen Trevenna was Brown Owl, followed by Janice Needs with Val Dudley and Sherry Jones. In 1999 Megan Owen, a brave Great Horwood Brownie who had battled childhood leukaemia was awarded Guiding’s prestigious award, the ‘Star of Merit’, given to girls who have shown great courage or fortitude.
Rainbows for 5 to 7 year-old girls was formed in 1990 and continues today.
Great Horwood Scouts, Guides, Cubs, Brownies and their leaders, c.1980.
During the 1950s and 1960s the Scout troop prospered, holding meetings in the Rectory garden and barn. There was a break in Scout activities in 1970 but in April 1973 Pippa Hedges restarted the Cub Pack and in January 1975 Paul Ketteridge reformed the Scout Troop. Meetings were held in the Old School and many is the time that an exuberant Cub or Scout had thrown their cap or beret into the air only to find it had landed out of reach on the high beams supporting the roof. The Scouts’ first summer Camp was in Pembroke and during 1976 at the District Scout Camp held on the banks of the River Ouse at Thornton, Great Horwood Scouts beat the local Sea Scouts in a traditional raft race. Canoeing became a speciality, with Scouts training on the Ouse at Stony Stratford in preparation for their annual canoe camp on the River Wye. The Scouts would make a thrilling descent in their canoes through the rapids and then, if conditions were right, they would return to the top and do it all over again.
In 1977 Mary Knowles became Cub Leader, with Rita Essam assisting, both ably supported by Rita’s husband David. The Cubs took part in various local Cub activities including the District Cub Camps at the Cosgrove Scout Camp.
Cubs in camp with Rita Essam, early 1980s.
When Bev Howard and Norman Lewis joined the Leadership Team in 1977 their summer camps included pioneering projects for aerial runways, towers and rafts, along with canoeing. Some summer camps were held in the Black Mountains where the Scouts experienced pony trekking and undertook overnight hikes through the mountains and slept out under the stars.
The Great Horwood Scouting achievement of those years included Edward Higgins attending the World Scout Jamboree in Australia, Ivan Dudley achieving his Queens Scout Award in 1991, John Abra achieving his Queen’s Award in 1995 and Kevin Wheeler attending the World Scout Jamboree in Holland in 1995. On his retirement in 2005 Bev Howard received the MBE for his many years of service to local Scouting.
By 1978 Scouting and Guiding was well established in the village and thoughts were given to providing a permanent home for the Scouts and Guides. The project brought the village Brownies, Cubs, Guides and Scouts together for many joint fund-raising events including a number of Scout Guide Gang Shows. These took place in the village hall. Over 100 young people from seven years to seventeen years took part, whether singing songs, playing out various sketches or in the case of one item when the Venture Scouts, of both sexes, hilarious dressed up as a girls’ hockey team singing a song about how they were undefeated – because they’d never played a match! In the show’s finale all the young people were packed onto the stage to sing ‘We’re Riding along on the crest of a wave’. Paul Ketteridge directed the gang shows and Clare Martin remarks that it was amazing how he managed to get all the girls and boys of different ages and levels of confidence working together to produce shows that were great fun for everyone.
In 1983 the County Guide and Scout Commissioners formally opened the new Great Horwood Scout Guide Headquarters. They unveiled a plaque reading: ‘This Headquarters was provided for young people, by Parents and Villagers, as a permanent home of Scouting and Guiding in Great Horwood.’
Laying the foundation stone for the Scout HQ.Back (l-r): Andrew Cook, Darren Sirett, Sharon Cook, Paul Ketteridge. Front (l-r): Tracey Sirett, David Cook, Karen Whitehall, Nigel Essam.
Today Scout and Guide HQ continues to be used by Great Horwood Scouts, Guides, Cubs, Brownies, Beavers and Rainbows.