Monday, 20 September 2021

Disabled athlete inspires pupils with charity speech

text FIVE members of the 2nd Goring and Streatley BBS scout group have gained their scout cord, the highest award

text FIVE members of the 2nd Goring and Streatley BBS scout group have gained their scout cord, the highest award for a scout.

Patrol leaders Oscar Clark and Abigail Papierowski and patrol seconders Robbie Albinson-Watters, Sebastian Avery and William Hathaway, who are all 14 or 15, had to pass many tests and gain many badges to qualify for the award.

The presentations were made by senior scout patrol leader Jack Papierowski, the last scout from the group to receive the award, and Lisa Chaplin, who was awarded the cord in 1992.

Group scout master David Cooksley said: “Very well done to all five. It is rare that such an award is gained by one scout in a troop but to gain five is remarkable, a great achievement.

“There are many skills to be learned and be proficient in before you obtain the scout cord. To name a few, you must be proficient in first aid and dealing with emergencies, camping and hiking, map reading, knotting and splicing, axemanship, tree recognition, swimming, tracking and survival.”

The final test involved a two-day hike of 14 miles, finding a camp site and cooking all their own meals on an open fire.

Mr Cooksley added: “It is fair to say that the standards required are far greater than most leaders’ abilities in other scouting associations who now see no worth in learning these basic scouting skills.”

The presentation was also attended by families and friends and other previous holders of the scout cord, including ASM Gareth James (2010), ASM Mark Moss (1999), Edward Walters (1992) and Robin Cooksley (1992), who now lives in North Carolina.

A cake was made for the occasion and entertainment was provided by scout magician Sparky.

Mr Cooksley said: “We also had traditional scouting games for all to join in and an excellent presentation on our project for 2016 of going to Uganda to extend a school that the scouts built in 2010. It was great evening.”

Two talks in one

A FORMER paratrooper who lost his left forearm in service gave a talk about his charity work at Langtree School in Woodcote.

Jaco Van Gass, from Nettlebed, was injured when was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009.

He now uses a replacement limb and has run several charity marathons and trekked to the North Pole alongside Prince Harry and other wounded former servicemen.

He has competed in the Combined Services Disabled Ski Team and hopes to represent Britain as a cyclist in the 2016 Paralympics at Rio. Mr Van Gass, 28, gave a speech to the whole school, telling pupils what mattered was not the challenges they faced in life but how they dealt with them.

Headteacher Rick Holroyd said: “Jaco’s presentation was truly inspirational and left students, staff and visiting governors with much to reflect upon.

“He has achieved amazing successes in spite of his disabilities as a result of his unswerving resilience, determination and courage.

“There were many messages in this wonderful presentation to inspire us all to do the same in our own lives.” Meanwhile, Mr van Gass has been selected to represent Great Britain at the Newport International Paracycling Cup later this month.

The three-day event counts as a qualifying event for track cycling at next year’s Games in Rio. He is one of 11 cyclists who has been chosen to take part.

Last year Mr van Gass won two gold medals at the Invictus Games in the men’s cycling time trial and the circuit IRB2.

He then won another gold in the C1-5 mixed gender 200m flying lap at the British national track championships in Manchester.

A BOAT builder from Goring will be the subject of a public lecture on January 30 (7.30pm).

Mike Hurst, of the Goring and Streatley Local History Society, will discuss the life of Samuel Saunders at South Stoke village hall.

Mr Saunders lived in Goring in the late 1890s and built the steam-powered umpire’s launch Consuta for Leander Club in Henley.

He later moved to the Isle of Wight, where his venture became Saunders-Roe, a leading marine engineering company. A plaque celebrating his achievements was unveiled at the Royal Mail sorting office by Goring bridge last year.

The evening also includes a talk by South Stoke resident Mark Taylor about his father’s life in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

Entry costs £5, including refreshments.

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