There has been a Scout Group at St. Luke’s for more than 60 years. Meeting in the old hall of the Church, a Cub Pack was opened on August 3rd 1954, and a Scout Troop was started soon afterwards. One of the founding members included one of the Ministers at St. Luke’s Church, Robin Williamson, who recalled at recent Cub meeting how he was involved in the choosing of out Group Scarf colours. “We were given the choice of the split colours as you have now, or a white scarf with a red border”. (We’re thankful you chose the one you did Robin!). “The scarf colours are the St.Luke’s School football team colours, which used to be in the black and white building you see as leave the church car park”.
Four years later, a large scale fund raising event took place on the old field above Holland Road, on the Sittingbourne Road, (now Vinter’s Park housing estate), to raise money for our own Head Quarters. Efforts were outstanding and a great deal of money was raised. Some the stalls included a tombola, crockery smashing (still a favourite these days), bash the rat, and various other stalls. The St. John’s Ambulance crew was among the other local organisations who supported the event.
In 1961, our Headquarters was finally opened and our growing Scout Troop and Cub Pack took up residence. The first person to take charge of the Group and hold the appointment of “Group Scout Master” (all leaders were called “Master” before 1967 – including the ladies) was the Rev H.V. Simmonds, who was followed by Ron Leyh, a much respected and admired member of the Group still to this day. Following Ron’s death, Mr Tony Young took over as GSM.
In the early 1970’s the Group had grown sufficiently enough to open a second Cub Pack and Scout Troop. On March 31st 1971, Derek Long (known to most as “Rikki”) was appointed as Group Scout Leader, taking over from Commander Brounger, whom we believe was the first person to hold the appointment of Group Scout Leader. 1971 also saw Peter Taylor (know as Trant) appointed the Scout Leader of the newly formed Friday Troop. Rikki also carried on as the Scout Leader of the Monday troop, to be succeeded by Malcolm Dickerson in the late 1970’s, who had been in the Group since he was a cub. Rikki moved on to become Thursday Pack Akela.
In September 1986 St. Luke’s welcomed their first Beaver Scouts on Monday evening. This was soon followed in 1990 by a second Colony on a Tuesday evening. The Monday Colony sadly closed in the 1990s, however we’re always open to offer to reopen it!
Just before the turn of the millennium, after 27 years as Group Scout Leader, Rikki decided to stand down as GSL and handed the reins of the Group over to his long time assistant and friend, Malcolm Dickerson to see us into the new century.
In 2004, the Group celebrated it’s 50th Birthday and held a Medieval Fayre with themed activities, events and amusements. There were birds of prey displays, Games Workshop sessions, archery, stocks and the day was topped off by banquet.
Over the next few years Malcolm’s Group Scout Leadership oversaw further growth in the Group which saw figures top the 100 members mark, (a number often commented on at St George’s Day Parades), the reopening the Monday Troop after a short absence and in 2010 we welcomed the Jaguar Explorer Unit to St. Luke’s. While not strictly part of our Group, as they are run by Maidstone East District Scouts, they are still very much part of the St Luke’s family, providing Young Leaders and activities as part of their programme of learning and having fun.
Malcolm also made the renovation of our HQ a priority to give the young people a meeting place they could be proud of, which after 50 years was in need of a bit of TLC and is now most notably in the colours of St Luke’s designed by one of the Group’s young people.
Sadly Malcolm and his wife Alison stepped down as GSL and Cub Scout Leader respectively in 2014 and his large boots have been filled by our new Group Scout Leader, Gavin Mills.
In 2014 we celebrated our 60th Birthday!
We had special 60th birthday badges made which we were allowed to wear for the whole of 2014 and made a short picture video (right) charting our Group during the last 60 years.
We partied in style later in the year at Hamlet Wood with a whole range of activities, (despite the rain), with all the Group’s young members and their parents in attendance, AND of course there was cake! Our 60th later appeared in the local press.