The Story of Heyford: Bert Wilkinson V1C12

In 1953 George Warr succeeded Mr Woods as headmaster, and in 1955 he and Bert Wilkinson formed the Heyford cub pack to save the younger boys having to travel to Flore. Like the scouts, the cubs also met in the school hall and regularly numbered over twenty during the 1950s. Bert Wilkinson went on to become Group Scout Leader. He eventually retired in 1977 but continued to take an active interest in ‘his boys’ throughout his life. In 1985 Mr Mike Lane, the county commissioner presented him with the ‘Silver Acorn’, an award of special distinction to the scouting movement. Mr Lane described him as a man who by his example and leadership had set the standard for the future of the generation of boys with whom he had worked over many years. Bert Wilkinson continued to live in Heyford until he died in December 1996.

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Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 1 of 4 | Chapter 12 of 13 | Page 32

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: Memories of Heyford Scouts in the 1950’s V1C11

Heyford Scouts was formed in 1952. The School headmaster, Mr Woods, was the scoutmaster, ably assisted by Mr Bert Wilkinson. During the 1950s it had a thriving troop of more than 20 boys. The troop was split into several patrols – peewit, kingfisher, etc., each with their own patrol leader, and weekly meetings were held in the school hall.

The Scout Troop in the 1950s

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Back row: Terry Randall, Norman Denny, Tony Lovell, David Butcher, Brian Eales, Anthony Hinnick, Colin Haynes, Michael Eales, John Smith, Colin Harrison, John Haynes
Seated centre: Gordon Cabbam, Bert Wilkinson 
Front row: Michael Royle, Roger Wilkinson, Richard Danby, Ken Garrett

Photo lent by Mrs Mary Butcher

Gang shows
Gang shows were very much a part of the scout year and were always a great success. They were presented on stage in the church rooms on the corner of Church Street and Church Lane and consisted of the normal songs (such as Ging Gang Gooly) and sketches. Rehearsals seemed to go on for ever and parents must have torn their hair out trying to provide costumes for some of these. The show was sometimes taken on tour for one night only to places as far afield as Flore, and it was just as daunting performing to strangers as to family and friends.

Soap Box Derbys
During my time in the scouts the troop entered the National Soap Box Derby. We built our soap box with a lot of help from Grose’s garage, and to our great delight we reached the national final held in Morecambe. To reach there we had to leave the village at about five o’clock in the morning and didn’t return home until late. The excitement of winning, however, got us through. The ‘car’ was on display for a month in the garage showroom, which at that time was in Marefair where the Barclaycard building is now situated. Boy, were we proud!

David Butcher winning the Soap Box Derby at Morecambe

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Photo lent by Mrs Mary Butcher

Camps
From later Spring until early Autumn several weekend camps were held fairly locally, and once a year the annual camp took place. This was always further afield and normally lasted for two weeks. One of these camps took us to the Pendle Hills in Lancashire, and inevitably it was raining when we arrived. After showing us to the field in which we were to make camp, the farmer pointed to the hill behind us and solemnly declared that, “If you can see those hills it’s going to rain, and if you can’t see them it’s already raining.” If memory serves me right we had about one day of dry bright weather in the whole fortnight and I seem to remember using washing bowls to scrape mud away from the front of the tents. No-one suffered any ill effects from this experience however and all returned to the village quite healthy.

During these camps one patrol was responsible for cooking the breakfast each morning and the others all went for an early morning run accompanied by the scoutmaster in order to work up an appetite. Each patrol took it in turns during the week so that nobody missed out on the joys of the run. Breakfast consisted normally of porridge made in a large billycan and coated with golden syrup diluted with hot water. This was followed by bacon and omelette. It was never a surprise if you found a generous helping of grass in either or both courses, but it never had any adverse effects on anybody.

The morning ablutions were always an adventure as we normally washed in cold water. One camp in the Lake District was near to a small stream and this was used by one or two hardy souls.

Street cred
Uniforms were strictly shorts (even the scoutmaster wore them!) and the distinctive hats with the stiff brim, reminiscent of the Canadian Mountie. These were terribly difficult to get flat again once you had bent it out of shape. This often happened, especially at camp.

I spent many pleasant and happy years in the scouts and during that time learned to cook, tie knots (some of which I still use, especially the granny), semaphore and Morse codes (all of which I have forgotten!). I also learned that it was easy to be polite and helpful and that this didn’t damage your street cred. I feel that I am better for the things I did and look back to this time with much pleasure.

Ken Garrett

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Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 1 of 4 | Chapter 11 of 13 | Pages 30 to 32

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

Heyford Scout Group – Update April 2019

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Scouts, cubs and beavers continue to be busy and active, The Scouts have been doing a lot of work towards badges, with two completed and a third in progress. A camp is planned for the summer.

The Beavers were successful in the Daventry District Handicraft Competition, with 3rd place overall in the Colony Project and a second place in the individual handicraft competition. You can view their certificates on our open Facebook page.

Cubs have been learning about woodwork with the help of a local expert working with the leaders and are planning a joint first aid course with the Youth Club.

Do you have a skill or talent that you might be able to share with some of our young people ? We would be really pleased to hear from anyone who would be interested in working with our leaders for a session or two on this basis.

As always you can contact us through our Heyford Scouts Page on The Prattler, or on Facebook www.facebook.com/heyfordscouts