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Scouts' Reunion 2016

On 20 July 2016, 32 former 70th Birmingham (KES) Scouts, plus 13 wives, recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Scout Rick Reeve leaving KES in 1966 and meeting his future wife Jo, who was then the farmer's daughter at the Dolwreiddiog camp site at Llanbedr in North Wales. The result, 45 years of marriage so far and still going strong.

Following a tongue-in- cheek suggestion from former Chemistry Teacher and Scout Master Alan Wright, Rick organised a reunion of Scouts who left KES between 1960 and 1972, mostly from Park Vale Troop but with some others who grew up in the other troops but camped with Park Vale as Scout Leaders. Attendees from as far afield as Singapore, Serbia and across the UK from Edinburgh to Devon, Co Durham to Pembroke and Lincoln to Bristol, all came together one beautifully sunny day in a picturesque village in Lancashire. A sprinkling of ex-Masters who led the Troops through the 1960s and 1970s including John Hamlin, Alan Wright, Karl McIlwaine and Alec Robinson attended and added huge knowledge and history to the event.

Nostalgia ruled the day, although name badges helped us all recognise former teenage Scouts who had mostly added a few inches on the hips and lost a bit, or a lot, of brown hair, swopping it for white or, in some cases, very little. Most people had maintained little, if any, contact with their former colleagues and fellow scouts but enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to renew friendships, swop reminiscences, and regale wives about just what their husbands got up to in their teenage years. We certainly hope that no divorces have resulted, but it was huge fun talking.

An historical slideshow of c350 pictures reminded all of the highlights, and wet points, of the many camps and expeditions as everyone tried to identify faces from 50 plus years ago. Excerpts from Blue Books, School Chronicles, Scouting Magazines and Winter Hike books provided a huge photographic record of what we did at the time, and A3 printed pictures provided a historical progression of individual scouts' development and ageing from age 11 to 18 as they appeared on the end-of-camp Troop Photos. A letter from Mrs Lunt, Chief Master Canon Lunt's widow, added gravitas and her best wishes to everyone and was much appreciated by all.

A huge food buffet and variety of drinks helped sustain everyone and included a magnificent cake featuring a field, tent, Scout, neckerchief and axe, beautifully crafted by Rick Reeve's daughter Morna.

Attendees were promised a surprise ‘to blow their socks off', and this delivered both emotionally and musically. A sound recording from the final assembly in July 1965 (yes, 51 years ago) was enthusiastically joined in to by all present as the School Song and organ notes rang out across the neighbourhood, followed by a tuneful rendition of God Be with You ‘Till We Meet Again. Finally Canon Lunt's own voice and instantly recognisable intonation bade us all to "Go Forth Into the World in Peace, be of Good Courage", causing more than one hardened Pensioner to shed a tear or two. Hugely emotional and bringing so many fantastic and life-forming times at KES into focus. Many people expressed the view, both in the lead-up to the event, and on the day itself, how much they now realised KES and its Scouts had driven and formulated their lives. Everyone recognises how much they owe to those dual institutions; to many, if not most, it made them the person they have become.

So, as evening began to fall the reunion came to a close. Seen as a unique experience which can never be repeated due to timing, age and a lack of new Scouting Events (sadly KES Scouts no longer exists) it was seen by one as having given "memories to treasure and feast upon for the rest of our lives".

More importantly it renewed acquaintances which will now continue, having previously been lost in the intervening years.

Apologies to Scouts who would have liked to have come but for whom the date did not fit, or whom we just could not find. Also many thanks to the staff of the Development Office for their help in maintaining the Old Eds' address website and answering queries.

Finally a huge thank you to everyone who came, their presence was what made the whole event the success it was.

The above photo shows the 32 enjoying the sunshine, wives insisting on remaining discretely in the background! Front Row (L-R): Alan Parker, Colin Page, Roger Overin, Richard Gale, Rick Reeve, Andrew Eccleston, Alan Coustick, Robert Edwards. Middle and back row (L-R): Alan Wright; John Hamlin, Karl McIlwaine , David Thomas, Neil Gilmore, Robin Hine, Robert Johns, Clive Owen, Michael Cooney, Phil Drake, Tony Jackson, John Hill, Chris Darrall, Alan Homer, Paul Hill, Martin Webb, John White, Paul Castle, Robert Baldwin, Michael Workman, Alec Robinson, Ross Hayes, Peter Edwards, Steve Drinkwater.