Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Beavers group faces closure due to lack of scout leaders

A BEAVERS group in Watlington could fold if it doesn’t find new leaders.

It is part of the 2nd Watlington scout group, which also has a cubs section and a scouts section.

Group leader Nicholas Irving said: “The situation is that the whole scout group is suffering from losing our best, brightest young leaders.

“Unless we get more leaders we will not be able to maintain all three sections as we have to have very specific ratios of adults to children.

“If we have to drop a section it will have to be the beavers. That’s the entry-level section and they move up to cubs and then scouts.

“It’s a tragedy because scouting has been going on in Watlington since the First World War.

“It provides a wonderful opportunity for young people and a great number of parents tell me it’s great to have opportunities for their children outside school.” The beavers group caters for 15 children aged six to eight and meets each Monday during term time.

About 10 new children join the section annually and there are currently eight on the waiting list.

The scout group’s chief cub scout leader is moving to Wales and the assistant cub scout leader is starting a nursing course.

Mr Irving said: “We need more leaders for the whole group. We certainly need two cub leaders and, realistically, we would like to have one extra leader for each section.

“What we really want to do is reach out and not just to the parents but the wider community.

“There must be an awful lot of people who were scouts, who perhaps don’t have their own children, or perhaps their children have gone off to university, or perhaps they are retired.

“Scouting for adults is an incredibly rewarding experience. It gives us an opportunity to put something back into the community and offer opportunities for young people that they wouldn’t otherwise have — and it’s a lot of fun.”

If new leaders are not found and the beavers section is forced to close, those children old enough to join the cubs will be able to do so, providing there are sufficient leaders to cover the numbers.

Mr Irving added: “The others may have to join other groups, which may provide transport difficulties for their parents. If they can’t do that unfortunately they’ll have to leave the movement.

“I think what I’d really like to achieve is to ensure the security of our existing group and potentially to develop it to offer more opportunities for more young people and also, of course, for adults.” Josella Brady, whose eight-year-old son Donnicha has been in the beavers group since January, said there was a long waiting list.

She said: “I put him on the waiting list when he was five and he didn’t join until he was seven-and-a-half, so it’s a long wait and it’s oversubscribed.

“It would be really sad if it does close. They do such fantastic stuff with the boys and girls.

“They really use the wonderful location of Watlington to do things like bike rides along the Ridgeway.

“It’s a real shame but I admire the parents who have stepped up and helped as leaders.

“Donnicha enjoys it very much. If it stops he’ll have a gap before he’s able to join cubs and I hope he doesn’t lose interest.”

 If you can help, call Mr Irving on 07557 737630 or email info@2nd

Volunteers will have to undergo the Disclosure and Barring Service check and will be given training.

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