My name is Roger Summerfield and I joined Harston Scout Group as Assistant Group Scout Leader in the summer of 1971, having moved into the village 2 years earlier. My house overlooked the School field and that is when I first noticed Harston Scouts.
My Scouting background
My Scouting career started as a Cub in 1948 with Miss Long, in the 42nd Cambridge pack, who met in a hall in King St Cambridge. After leaving Cubs, I joined the 7th Cambridge (County School Troop) in 1951 and progressed to Patrol Leader, Senior Scout and Assistant Scout Leader (ASL). In 1957 I was a member of the Cambridge UK contingent at the 50th World Scout Jamboree, Indaba and Moot (JIM) held at Sutton Park, Birmingham.
I was also a member of the local organising committee who ran the 50th Anniversary Celebration Reunion Weekend of JIM, held in Robinson College Cambridge in 2017. 268 people, from 23 countries, who had been Scouts or Leaders at JIM in 1957, attended. The love of World Wide Scouting!
I remained with the 7th Cambridge as ASL until 1961, when work, family, and athletics took over. However, I always told Jackie, my wife, I would go back to Scouting when I had the opportunity. Moving into Harston in 1969, watching the Scouts on the school field, gave me that opportunity.
One evening, in the summer of 1971, I walked round to the School and offered my services to David Clark and John Wick!
I will try and fill in as much of the history of Harston Scouts over the past 50 years as I can. Some is from memory, but most is from papers, minutes, account books etc., I have collected over the past 48 years. If I ramble on, I apologise now!
Early Harston Scouting
It would seem that there has certainly been scouting in Harston from 1910 as we have a copy of an article from the Herts and Cambs Recorder dated November 11th 1910, that mentions, and I quote “the enthusiasm of the Harston Scouts” at a presentation outside the Pemberton Arms. We have an article from the Cambridge Independent Press on 28th May 1915, which seems to indicate that Scouting started again in Harston in 1915 and we think carried on until 1921.
I was given by Daphne Whitmore, a village historian, in 1995, the Scout Log Books showing that a meeting was held in Harston to try and reform Harston Scouts on February 5th 1934. This was obviously a success as the Log Books show the troop ran very successfully until November 1941, after which we have no further information. These are now stored with all our old Scout and Cub records in the Hall loft in Harston School
It’s amazing how things come together, as during the mid-1990’, Thriplow Farms were renovating a plaster and lathe wall in one of their farm cottages when a wooden shield fell out of the wall. David Gould of Thriplow Farms gave it to Brenda Free, our Akela, as it obviously had belonged to Harston Scouts, showing all the patrols in the troop at that time. Fred Rayner, Brenda’s father, identified it as hanging on the wall of the (Oddfellow’s) loft in Green Man Lane that was being used by the Scouts when he joined in 1936. He believed it was painted by Jack Lant, one of the original Scouts and our first King Scout. I have had it framed and it now hangs in the Scout building on Harston Recreation Ground.
John Wicks article in the Harston History Website gives a very good description of the reforming of Harston Scouts in 1969, while I will pick up David Holmes comments later about his mother restarting Harston Cubs.
Harston Scouts have always met at Harston Primary School, initially on a Friday evening, but switched to a Wednesday in 1980. Harston Cubs, who were started by Betty Holmes in 1973, always met on the Wednesday evening. We owe Harston School, its Head Teachers and Governors our sincere gratitude for allowing us to use the School premises for this length of time.
Over the years we have had many Leaders and I will try and date them.
David Clark was being helped John Wick when I joined in 1971 and by Martin Gambie, Richard Vallis and Bill Manley, who were older scouts who stayed on as Young leaders. My warrant is dated Jan 1972, owing to the usual HQ delay.
Sometime later, Phil Moult, my next door neighbour, joined us for several years. Nigel Tebbit, (son of John Tebbit) who was an ex Harston Scout, and Venture Scout, joined us in about 1978. Nigel was a very good canoeist, hiker, sailor and general outdoor man. He was a great asset but moved to Newmarket in about 1999 and we only then saw him at Camps etc. until about 2015. Sad to say, Nigel died in 2019 from cancer.
Paul Woolridge, (RAZ) was a Harston Cub, Scout and Venture Scout before joining us as a leader in early 1990’s.
When David Retired in 1995, I took on the role of Group Scout Leader (GSL), Raz took over as Scout Leader, with me helping, until his pressure of work took over and he had to give up. Raz, having had a break like myself, is now back in Scouting, and is GSL of Hardwick Scout Group. Brenda and Colin Free helped me run the Scouts for about a year until Jeff Norman, whose son Harry, was a Scout, volunteered to help as a Leader and he persuaded Tim Anderson, whose sister Claire had helped with the Harston Venture unit, to come along as well. Tim had a background in Scouts with the 1st, 14th and 28th Cambridge, as well as being a member of the Cambridge Gang Show.
When Jeff Norman moved to France, Tim took over as Scout Leader. Gerry Collison, whose son was a Scout, and his father and ex-London Scout leader, was asked by me to help and he joined first as a parent helper, then as ASL, than SL, when he and Tim changed roles. Charlie, his daughter joined as ASL, with Heather, his wife, as Group Secretary. This was about 2009. They left us in 2015, Gerry moving into a Royston District role.
As a result of Granta District being dissolved, Harston Group were transferred to Royston District in 2013 to strengthen their number. James Prisk, with a very strong Scouting background, joined us as a direct result of this move, and took over as Scout Leader when Gerry moved on in 2015. Tim Anderson is ASL, along with Claire Roberts and Harry Sherwood-Partridge, who is currently working to finish his Queen Scout Award, I believe the first we have connected with Harston since 1938.
We also have very regular help from Julie Cansfield, one of our Parent Helpers, whose Husband, Andy, is our Group Chairman.
Ben Harris, after going to University, re-joined as ASL in 2012, and now helps with Explorers while Chris Johnston, Louis Pascuzzi and James Nowshadi carried on their Scouting careers as Young Leaders with the Cubs.
The Venture Unit ran from 1986 until 1995, with Richard Hopkins, Nigel Clark and Claire Anderson as leaders. This was a mixed unit as older Girls were able to be members of a Venture Unit but unfortunately it closed through lack of numbers.
Granta Explorer Unit, the new name for the Venture Unit, was set up in 2017, with Ian Clifford (Hannibal) as leader, Ben Harris joining him in 2019, and this is now going very strongly, with 15-20 members aged 14 -17
Harston Cub Pack
Betty Holmes, an ex-Cub leader with Shelford and Stapleford, in 1973 agreed to start a Cub Pack in Harston. She was helped by Ian Truelove and sometimes by her son David. It ran extremely well with Parent Helpers until Betty was forced to retire at the old Scout Leader retirement age of 65 in the summer of 1996. There is a very complete history of the Cubs, thanks to the log books kept by Betty, complete with photos of trips on the broads, canal long boat trips and an exchange with the llanvwst Cub pack from Wales in 1982. In 1980, Betty was awarded the Medal of Merit for her work with Harston Cubs. The log books are now in the loft at the School for safe keeping. When Betty was forced to retire, I agreed to run the Cubs up to the Autumn half term, when it would close if we did not get some new leaders.
Our prayers were answered when Brenda Free, helped by her husband Colin, agreed to take over the running of the Cubs. She had intended to help with the Guides, but her son had recently joined Harston Cubs, so she decided to take over Harston Cubs. Membership of the Cubs was down to about 9/10 by this time. After 18 months, numbers had risen to 24, with a waiting list! Her Daughter Amanda joined in 2007 as ACL. (See Brenda & Colin’s account of running Cubs)
In 2016 they were awarded with medals of merit, which recognised their efforts in Cubs. They were issued to them after the AGM with parents and all leaders there.
In December 2019, after 24 years of providing brilliant Cubing for many hundreds of children, Brenda and Colin, owing to pressure of work, felt they were unable to run the regular Wednesday meetings and retired, along with Amanda, in March 2020.
During the last 2/3 years, Chris Johnstone, ex Harston Cub, Scout, Young Leader, came back from university and helped as ACL. Chris agreed to take over as Cub Leader, with Gareth Adams, a parent, who had volunteered his services in 2018, as an ACL. Unfortunately, Chris had a change of Job and family commitments, which meant he was unable to take up the role as Cub Leader. Gareth, unfortunately, was unable to take over as Cub Leader, so we are now needing a Cub Scout Leader. James, Gareth and I are currently running the Cubs with good parental support.
Hauxton Cub Pack was started in 1981, with Gwen Hodges as leader, with Mark Start taking over in 1989. Hauxton was forced to close in 1993 when Marks job took him away. Numbers in Hauxton at the time were small and they were absorbed into Harston Cubs.
Parent Helpers have always been an essential part of effectively running a Scout Group, and we were very lucky in our early years with a great deal of support from John Tebbit, Frank Way, and Bill Wilkinson, all of whom made David’s life easier. David and Joan Woolridge were a great asset to us during the eighties and early nineties, as were Dom Bellamy and Brian Cowland. There are many others who have helped over the years who I would like to thank for their support.
This has always been a major problem, especially in the early years and many ways have been used. We never did ‘Bob a Job’, as David Clarke felt that people would take liberties, asking the Scouts to do a great deal of work for little or nothing. As a young Cub and Scout, I found the opposite situation, people usually being very generous.
Initially, waste paper collection was a very profitable activity in the 1970’s with a monthly collection round Harston and Hauxton, storing it in a shed off the High St. Price collapsed and we started our annual Jumble Sale. We used the School Hall, tables from the village hall, two marques outside for the toys and brick-a-brack, with all the furniture, electrical items etc., outside on the grass, run by David Woolridge. We eventually had over 400 people attending, opening at 2pm, closing about 4pm, having taken over £1500. It became the largest Jumble Sale in South Cambs.
This finished up as a major effort, for a few people, just to keep the two mini buses going. On the Saturday of what turned out to be the final Jumble Sale, there were only 4 people sorting in the morning, so at this point we decided to stop, and sell the mini buses, both of which needed a great deal of money spending on them. The help we had selling at the Jumbles Sales was tremendous, mostly parents, ex parents, village friends and others. Over 50% had no current connections with the Scouts.
We were still being asked when our next sale was, 2 years later!!
At this point we felt that parents should be responsible for getting their children to activities, or paying a little more to hire transport. Owning Mini Buses was a good idea, but they needed a great deal of use, and outside hire, to make them viable
Local and District Scout Raffles, odd Disco’s etc. helped keeping funds ticking over until Brenda offered to run a Craft Fair in the Village Hall in 2018. This was a great success, raising over £600. A second one was run in 2019, with another planned for 2020.
Harston Scout Group has a great deal to thank David Clarke for, not just for helping restart the Scouts, but offering his land etc. for storing all of our equipment. Initially it was stored in a building at his parents’ home, Germiston House, in Harston High Street. The Troop then acquired an old concrete Scout Building from, I believe, the 23rd Cambridge, which was taken down and re-erected at Phillimore Garden centre (PGC), David’s garden centre in Melbourne. This was for joint use but for various reasons, we acquired a shipping container for storage, again at PGC. In 1990, Fisons, a large agricultural chemical company in Hauxton, had to get rid of a 36ft porta Cabin, and thanks to David Woolridge, it was delivered to PGC for use by Harston Scouts. Raz dug out and laid the concrete pads, and the power cable for the building.
This was a great asset for over 25 years, but it became obvious in early 2015 we would have to find a more convenient site for our equipment. Eventually, Harston Parish Council were approached and it was agreed we could erect a 9 x 6m building on Harston Recreation Ground.
I agreed to take on the role of fund raiser in December 2016 and was amazed at the support we received from many organisations and people. Obviously, without the help and support of Harston Parish Council, this project could not have happened and we must extend our grateful thanks for their backing of this project. We now have a 21 year lease with Harston Parish Council, a copy of which is being held by Scout Head Quarters.
We set an initial budget of £15/20,000 for the project, the question being ‘How to raise it?’
The National Lottery provided £9,000, while the Rugby Group Benevolent Fund provided £7,500. Our grateful thanks must go to one of their trustees, Norman Jones, a Harston resident, for making this happen. We already had help from the Rugby Group for new hike tents and life jackets, for which we were extremely grateful. We were one of Shelford Co-op’ s Charity Fund charities for 2018 and this provided us with a £2,697 contribution. South Cambs. District Council and Hills Group Services both provided donations of £1,000, while Cambridge and Royston Masons provided £700.
Mrs Norden, a 91 year old Jam Maker, and charity stall holder from Shelford, gave us her yearly charity fund, raising total of £365. Scout fund raising activities raised over £1780 over a 9 month period.
There were other donations from friends of Harston Scouts who we thank for their support. We actually raised over £22,000 for the project, the additional revenue being used for some equipment and a maintenance fund for the building.
Building started in July, the base was dug out, hard core and steel mesh laid, and the 11 cubic metres of concrete was laid on 23 July 2018 by Peter Wombwell and Tim Austin. I would like to offer our thanks to Pete and Tim for their invoice, it was embarrassingly generous.
Redrow, who are currently building in Hauxton, provided all the safety fencing and 11 cubic meters of concrete as a charitable contribution, while Hanson Garages provided the building at an extremely generous cost.
Once the building was up, James Prisk and Tim Anderson organised and erected a large amount of pallet racking with the result we now have an extremely useful storage and activity building on Harston Recreation Ground.
The building was officially opened in November 2018 by Jane Moran, a Scout Parent and Harston Parish Councillor and celebrated with Hot Dogs and a firework display
Many, many thanks to everybody who contributed in any way to this project. It has proven to be an extremely useful activity facility for Harston Scouts for now and the future.