78th Leicester (Thurmaston) Scout Group
SCOUTING IN THURMASTON 1934-1945
When the Rev Botterill came to Thurmaston in 1930 he was made aware of Scouting by the then Archdeacon, who invited him to investigate the activities of a troop that was known as the 28th Leicesters and skippered by a Mr Roy Bunney but had since closed. The troop wore all khaki including the neckerchiefs and met at the Working Men’s Club in Garden Street and at their closure were meeting at the back of Stevenson’s shop in Berkeley Street.
In 1934 the present group was formed with Thomas Moore as Scoutmaster and the Rev Botterill as Group Scoutmaster. Their first meeting was attended by six scouts, the Scoutmaster and two assistants, Arthur Talbot and Bill Timlock in the vicar’s stables in the Vicarage grounds. This was destined to be the group’s meeting place for the next 25 years; a new floor was built with access to it by a vertical ladder. Oil lamps were the only means of illumination during the long winter evenings and electricity was not connected until 1946.
In early 1935 a camp was arranged at Beeby and in the Autumn of the same year another in the paddock at The White Hart. Both suffered through heavy storms but the latter offered a better place of refuge. It was also in 1935 the Band was initially formed with a bugle (from a pawnbrokers shop in Jersey) and a side drum. The first outing was a church parade followed by Silver Jubilee celebrations for George V, when the band played at a street party in the village.
In 1937 the troop numbers reached 150 scouts and Phil Taylor and Syd Taylor joined the group and started a cub pack, this flourished and became a permanent part of the group. The band numbered 30 with some of them forming a dance band, which played at the Memorial Hall at the “Bop Hop” to raise funds for the group.
1938 brought further camps which always seemed to coincide with bad weather and public houses as the last one at Bollard’s Farm was abandoned and its occupants slept in the local pubs skittle alley. In the Autumn of 1938 a torchlight procession was arranged which proceeded down Humberstone Lane to the Church with the colours being carried by a boy called Felix Pole.
Before scouting in Thurmaston was brought to a temporary halt on the onset of the 2nd World War with leaders being drafted into the services a camp was organised at Roe’s Farm, Saxby. Summer of this year was also a time when the IRA’s activities became frequent with the bombing and sabotage of Army Camps in various parts of the country. So during the camp a guard of Rover Scouts was formed to keep watch throughout the night, this gave an excuse to make weapons, knives were lashed to scout staffs with great skill, but luckily the only visitors during the nights at the camp was a herd of cows.
The war years saw the scouts helping at the Warden’s Post on Humberstone Lane, issuing Gas Masks with the older members helping with the Civil Defence.