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Message from our New District Commissioner - Steve Richards

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As we hit July, I've had some time to look back on my first two weeks as District Commissioner for South East Berkshire.  It was great to see a good number of friendly faces at the AGM on the 17th June, thank you all for coming to see me being Invested by our County Commissioner, Hamish Stout.

For those of you who were not there, here is what I said after I'd been Invested:

Thank you very much Hamish, and I'd like to thank everyone for coming along to this AGM and supporting Scouting in SE Berkshire.  I'm sure that a good number, if not all, of you are surprised that I am standing here as the new DC - I can assure you that I am probably the most surprised of all!  As you might know, I was lined up the take over from Derek as District Secretary next year and, when I was approached about becoming DC, it was a complete shock - it was not a direction I had ever expected to take in Scouting.  However, I am immensely proud to have been asked to take on the role of leading this District which, it goes without saying, is of course the best in the County - maybe saying we are the best in the country is going a bit far.....?!

I'd like to thank Ann, ably supported by Steve Prower, for all she has done over the last five years to move the District forward - definitely a hard act to follow.  I'm delighted that Ann and Steve have accepted the role of Vice President's and it's good to know that you will still be around to offer advice when I need it - which I definitely will!  I'd also like to congratulate Gerald on becoming a Life Vice President, and thank him for all the support he has given Ann in particular, and for his tireless efforts in supporting the District in general.  Again, it is good to know that you will be available to offer wise council.

As I've become more involved with the District over the last couple of years, I've realised that we are very fortunate to have such a large number of members who are supporting Scouting in SE Berkshire.  Mostly, they are beavering away (excuse the pun!) in the background helping to ensure that our young people have an enjoyable Scouting experience, and I'd like to thank you for all your efforts, past and future.  As a District, we are here to support the individual Groups and help ensure that when little Janet & little John walk into their local Scout hut as wide eyed six year old Beavers we nurture them so that at 18 they walk out having had 12 years of memorable Scouting experiences and, in the process, have become rounded adults and useful members of society who want to stay involved with Scouting and hopefully in due course become Leaders themselves.  With no disrespect to the more mature among us (and I count myself in that category) we must not forget that our young people are the future of Scouting, we are just here to help make it happen.  To borrow a phrase from the speech that HM The Queen gave at the recent D-Day 70th Anniversary commemoration at Arromanches, but which I feel equally applies to Scouting, 'Everything we do, we do for the young'.

Our distinguished guests have already been welcomed this evening, and I'd like to reiterate that, and thank you for your support.  I'd also like to thank the DASU for once again providing refreshments after this meeting.  Our District Secretary, Derek Jackson, and District Treasurer, Karen Mehra, both do a huge amount of work behind the scenes, as do the other District Executive members, so a vote of thanks goes to them as well.  Last, but by no means least, I'd like to say a BIG, BIG thank you to my wife, Shelagh, for all she has put up with so far, and all she will have to endure in the future - I definitely owe you big time!

Finally, thank you for all the work you do in supporting this District and your Groups and I look forward to working with you as we continue to move forward as a District.

For those of you who do not know me, I've added a photo taken recently of me at the top of Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo.  It is just over 13,000 feet high, and the necker I'm wearing is from Singapore, where we had been before travelling to Borneo.

The evening after the AGM, Derek Salter (my DDC) and I were interviewed by the County Appointments Advisory Committee (I think we passed!), following which we visited the 2nd Bracknell Explorer Unit.  They were holding a poker evening and the attached photo shows them all dressed up for the occasion.

The following evening I was at the Be Prepared Lodge in Wokingham, where I was congratulated on my recent appointment.  As you can probably guess, this Lodge is for Freemasons with a Scouting background.

Saturday 21st June was 2nd Bracknell's AGM and celebration event, held at Lily Hill Park.  The weather was kind and there must have been over 200 people present.  Various presentations were made, the Bracknell Town Mayor and Chairman of Warfield Parish Council said a few words and I made my first speech as DC.

The following day, with four from 2nd Bracknell, we helped marshal at the annual Winkfield & Binfield Cycle Ride.  Again, good weather and everyone seemed to enjoy the event.

Last week, I attended the inaugural 1st Warfield Group Executive meeting.  I am pleased to report that they now have a Group Chairman (Chris Waight), as well as a Group Secretary and Treasurer and another member of the committee who is not a Leader.  Everyone has worked very hard to ensure that their Beaver Colony and Cub Pack have started on the right food, and I am sure that we all wish them well for the future.

This last weekend I attended the Dave Higgs Challenge, held this year at Earleywood.  Some 50 Scouts from around the District competed over the weekend for the trophy and, after a very close contest, one of 1st Binfield teams emerges as winners.  I had originally been asked many months ago to go and do the cooking for 2nd Bracknell Scouts.  When the surprise of becoming DC was put to me I felt that I couldn't let them down, so I spent an enjoyable weekend cooking, although I was allowed out occasionally to catch up with others around the site.  The rain on Saturday didn't dampen spirits too much, and the organising team must be congratulated on all their hard work.

So, the last day of the month and I went (along with several others from our District) to the South Berks AGM.  Again, it was good to catch up with familiar faces and hopefully make some useful contacts among the civic representatives.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone for being so supportive as I get used to what being a DC is all about; it is much appreciated and makes me realise what a lot of good people we have in our District.

Yours in Scouting,

Steve