Scouting in Bottesford
A century of endeavour
Sue and David Middleton
Scouting in Bottesford has a long history. Robert Baden-Powell founded the movement in 1907 and published his celebrated book, ‘Scouting for Boys’, in 1908.
Bottesford’s first Scout troop was formed around 1910/12 by Mr. Charles Calcraft who was one of the local postmen. (Please click on the page ‘Bottesford Post Office Staff 1912‘ for further details)
The early photographs of the 1st Bottesford Scout Troop shows them formed up outside Mr. Burnett’s house on Church Street and gathered around a camp fire on fields opposite the Old School House on Grantham Road.
This was the generation of boys who saw active service in the 1st World War. The School Logbook records on the 4th October 1918 that “(T)he sad news has also been received that a former scholar and student teacher 2nd Lieut. Albert Asher has been killed in France while gallantly leading his men“. We do not know whether the unnamed boys in the photographs were any of those who were recorded on the War Memorial in the south transept of St Mary’s Church.
The activities of the Troop after the 1st World War is not known. Notes written by Mrs. Ena Lane (herself a Guide leader in the 1950s and 60s) provide details of later developments.
One of the original members of the 1st Bottesford Scout Troop, Harry Lane, reformed the Bottesford Scout movement in 1944.
Mrs. Lane notes that “(I)n 1944 Mr H.W. Lane reformed the Bottesford Boy Scouts after leaving the army on 20.10.44. The following boys were enrolled in the Scout movement in St Mary’s Church by Sir Arthur Curtis who was the District Commissioner for Leicestershire – Ken Greasley, Michael Christmas, Clarence Glover, Robin Sutton, John Bugg, Rex Allison, Dennis Grant, Brian Challands, Tom Wright.“
Mr. Lane was a very formidable advocate on behalf of young people.
Writing to the Grantham Journal in 1944, he replies to ‘statements‘ made by Mr. A.J. Lee, the area youth officer, in the previous week. Mr. Lee was proposing that part-time paid peripatetic youth workers would serve Bottesford very well. Mr. Lane was of the opinion that leaders did their work because they were happy doing it with no thought of renumeration. The problems in Bottesford arose because there was not a suitable venue for meetings and because official Brownie and Guide meetings took place in Melton Mowbray and Leicester, the last bus from Melton being at 8.35.p.m. He concluded that “(I)if Mr Lee has any constructive suggestions to make to alleviate this situation I would be only to pleased to meet him at any time to thrash this matter out“!!
By 1945, Mr. Lane was enrolled as Group Scoutmaster and in the next 10 years, Mr. McCarthy of Easthorpe also served as Scoutmaster.
A key post war event was the World Jamboree held at Belvoir Castle in 1947.
There may have been other volunteers involved in running the Scouts in the late 1940s but by 1954, Mr. Jay Howitt was ‘volunteered‘ by his son and daughter to be the new Scoutmaster in Bottesford. Meetings were held at the Methodist Chapel Schoolroom and 25 boys were waiting for him when he arrived. At the end of the first year, there were 33 Scouts in the junior troop and there was also a senior troop. It proved to be a perspicacious act of ‘volunteering’. Jay Howitt served the Scouting movement for over 20 years – even coming out of ‘retirement’ to assist when numbers went into decline in the late 1960s.
In 1955, the Scouts and Guides transferred to the Lincolnshire District and there were 31 Scouts and 35 Cubs – Anne Lane was the Cub-mistress, assisted by Mrs. Wright.
On 24th November, 1956 a new ‘Scout Centre’ was opened by Mr. Read (the District Commissioner for Grantham) in the former British Legion Club in Albert Street.
Over the next 17 years Scouting activities were very popular. There was a need for a new Head Quarters in Bottesford. Fund raising efforts were started for a new building and plans were drawn up. The Legion Hut was demolished and the new building for scouting was built in 1971.
The commitment of former members in supporting the continuity of Scouting and Guiding remains a significant feature of these local movements in Bottesford.
Jay Howitt was well known for writing ‘poetic celebrations’ for local events. He penned one for the opening of the new Scout Centre in 1971. His words capture the spirit of dedication to an organisation that continues to serve the village and its younger people.
“Jay” Howitt’s poetical masterpiece composed on the occasion of and especially for the official opening of Bottesford’s new Headquarters.
Just over 17 years ago today I was asked, if a Scoutmaster I’d like to be
And thinking it was a bit of fun, I answered ‘Yes’ quite foolishly
Picking up the Grantham Journal one day, it said ‘Bottesford have got a Scout master’
Realizing what I had done I thought, my goodness, what a disaster.
Nov. 12th drew nearer, I was struck with panic and fright,
For I hadn’t a clue what I should do that night.
As I got ready that evening, Good fortune smiled on me
Ron Cook had biked over from Grantham, and stayed for a cup of tea.
Down to the Chapel Schoolroom we went, not knowing what would be in store
You can imagine our amazement when 25 boys met us at the door.
With the aid of Ron Cook things got moving and my fright began to fade
By the end of the evening some very good progress was made.
For a week or two we made rapid progress then my confidence was shook
When I found I was to lose the service of my very good friend Ron Cook
Into the breach stepped Brian Jallands to give a helping hand
And so we continued to prosper and make some sort of stand.
After Brian had left to get married, Eric Buxton had a go
That was after he had got married, just in time for our first Gang Show
Camping time came around so we decided at Ancaster to make a start
The boys were all very excited, but I had doubts how to play my part.
To make matters worse Sunday dinner, which we thought would be such a treat
Ended in sudden disaster, when the fire devoured the meat.
Then at night we had an intruder and this did none of us please
I know you will not believe it but a fox ran away with the cheese.
However things began to get better my courage began to return
I suddenly realised there and then what a lot there was to learn
And so most weeks in August we have had a week at camp
Sometimes the weather has been lovely, and sometimes its been a bit damp
1957 was Jamboree Year so we camped at Newton Regis quite near
With the Barrowby Scouts camping with us there was plenty for us to cheer
Our favourite campsite is Walesby we’ve never tired of going there
To me its home from home, no campsite can with it compare
We have taken part in several Gang Shows, in these much pleasure we’ve found
Most of them have been well conducted by our present D.C. Jack Round.
Bottesford scouts are renowned for one thing, and that is Bob a Job Week
When the district ran a competition, for others the outlook was bleak.
We were in our old headquarters for 13 years or more
And it served a very good purpose even though it had a bent floor
At the opening we were very excited, it was something we really did need
And on this special occasion the opener was our D.C. E.B. Read.
There was much work to be done, before we moved in the old place
But our helpers soon gave it a nice shining face
One man I daren’t mention his name, who had been such a driving force
Was told by his wife that we had got very good grounds for divorce
It is now several years since we decided a new Scout Centre it would have to be
So we started saving our money and got keener and keener you see
Throughout the 17 years in this job, I’ve been backed by a gallant band
Although there’s been many changes, they have all been simply grand
You have guessed it is our Scout Council who have put up such a fight
And thanks for their mighty effort, we are able to be here tonight.
All through these 17 long years our chairman has been the same
He has seen many ups and downs, by the way, Albert Topps is his name
There are others who have been a big help feel I must mention their names
Gerry Firth, Robert Taylor, Don Sutton, Robert Evans have helped with the Scouting and games
Another good friend I must mention who has a place in everyone’s hearts
Is “Col” Wild from Grantham who helped us out right from the start
He’s camped with us on several occasions, at our A.G.M. he’s always at hand
Now he’s the nerve to retire from our happy Scouting band
To us all he’s been an inspiration, of his kind there are but few
In his thoughts, his words and his deeds, he has shown us what to do
Two members of our Scout Council whose efforts filled us with pride
Were Mick Waller and Mary Taylor, who made sure we quickened our stride
Mick Waller as our efficient Secretary, had so much writing and phoning to do
Mary Taylor our bustling treasurer made sure we had money to see the job through
Ken Greasley an old scout and the builder, to him goes a word of praise
For he has built us a fine Scout Centre that will last us the rest of our days
No profit will he see for his effort, in his heart there will be content
To have helped the cause of Scouting has been his sole intent
Then there’s the electrician, the painters, joiners, plumber and like who have saved us so much dough.
Something should be done to remember them that future generations should know
So a new chapter in Scouting opens up. It should be happy and bright
Thank all you good people for coming to share with us this memorable night
There is still much more we must do before we can say we are done
There’s still lots of things we still need before scouting can be well run
These things will be forthcoming I have not the slightest fear
The Bottesford people will help us Bless ’em they deserve a cheer
I’m near to the end of my report of some parts of a Scout master’s life
Perhaps in the very near future I might find I’ve got a wife
Without the sacrifice she has made I would not now have been here
Then I would not have had this fine pastime and the training year by year
So I pass onto you a message I learnt when I was a boy
It may do the same for you and bring you comfort and joy.
I pass through this world but once, therefore, any good thing I may do
Or any kindness I may show let me do it now
Let me not neglect it as I shall not pass by this way again.
Jay Howitt (1971)
(In the near future further photographs and news paper articles will be added giving details of more recent activities and many other people who have been involved with the Scouting and Guiding movement in Bottesford.)