And it’s goodnight from him…
I had the good fortune to inherit a District in fine fettle from Jill Bowman. Four and a half years later I hand that District over to Suzanne Budd, confident that the future for it is bright.
It’s no secret that my time as DC has had its share of ups and downs. I’m sitting in the Drake Minibus typing this and they’ve just played Oasis. Whilst I’m no fan of them, the message of Don’t Look Back in Anger does apply to the lows of my time as DC. Whilst some would obviously criticise the decisions I took at the time, no-one could credibly suggest that I was trying to do anything other than the very best I could.
However, I don’t want to dwell on the downsides of my time as DC, but rather on the good parts of the past half decade. And there have been many. The main advantage of being Blythe DC – the brilliant part of being Blythe DC – is that you get to work with some fantastic people. People from all walks of life, people of every colour, creed, faith, sexuality, background – all the things that are used by some to divide. But the people I’ve worked with in Blythe have been united in a common goal – to do Good Things. To make a difference to the lives of young people, to the society we live in. And that motivation isn’t driven by money or fame, but that common goal. We are very fortunate that there are so many people who are prepared to step up and give up their resources and, far more importantly, their time. To all of you – thank you.
The great danger with saying thank you is that people are missed. If I miss you, many apologies. I’m writing this in a minibus on the way back from a hard DofE Gold expedition, so that’s my only excuse. But there are a few people I would like to call out. Firstly Cheryl Buck – the launch of First Dickens Heath is a standout moment for the District, and it wouldn’t have happened without Cheryl. She put a huge amount of work into launching the Group – my contribution was mainly limited to drinking red wine at the Bucks when Cheryl was stressed about how things were going as we were driving things so quickly. I drank a lot of red wine (and can recommend the Bucks’ cellar…). The results of her efforts are felt by well over 100 young people week-in week-out. Thanks also to Giovanni, Lindsay, and the whole team there for all the work they’ve done building the Group as it goes from strength to strength.
My thanks also go to Andy Holt for all of the work that he did to launch Dickens Heath Scout Group (and more). That I cannot deliver those thanks to him anymore is a source of continued sadness, and I treasure the time working with him dearly. Rest in Peace Andy.
Thanks also to Greg Dodd, John and Sue Cheshire, Monica Clark, and the rest of the AAC. Both for your efforts dealing with everything that happened a couple of years ago, but also for all of your support and guidance through my entire tenure as DC. The role of the AAC is often under-appreciated; whilst the appointments process often has a very routine interview as part of it, when it goes wrong (and it sometimes goes very wrong) the AAC is a crucial part of the management and resolution of issues. You all do a great job – thank you.
Thanks to the County team more widely too. In particular, I was fortunate to work with two County Commissioners who I have enjoyed working with. Dave Lodwig grew enormously in his time in the role, and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of that growth – and benefitting from it as well. My thanks to him.
And my thanks to Shirley too. Again, it’s been a privilege to be part of the journey of someone growing and developing into the role. The role of the CC is a massive one – both to be a champion for Solihull into Scouts and a champion for Scouts in Solihull. But also a leader and manager for a huge, disparate, team. Some of the challenges around that role will have to be kept secret. But I’ve been involved with those challenges, have seen how hard they are, and have seen how hard Shirley has had to work to bring those challenges to a resolution. Thank you to Shirley for all of her efforts supporting the County, and her support and guidance.
Thanks also to Ian Carnell for all of his support and (much) wisdom. Like Greg, Ian is a fundamental part of why Scouting in Solihull is the success that it is. His behind the scenes efforts are immense, and I owe him a debt of gratitude.
One of the things that make Solihull stand-out as a County are the County level events. Thanks to all of the team that make those happen – particular thanks to Paul Webb for his efforts there, but also for his support and guidance over very many years – I look forward to working with you for very many more.
Yet more thanks are owed to all of the GSLs in Blythe. Thank you for all of your help, and for the work that you do making the Scout Groups the bedrock of the District. Particular thanks to both Patrick and Tony for all of your support – as GSLs of the largest Groups in the District, your support has been invaluable, and much appreciated.
I’ve also received the benefit of much support and guidance from the District Team. Thank you all. In particular, thanks to Trevor Richmond for all of his work as District Chair, and for all of the guidance he has been able to bring to the role from his very many years of Scouting. Thank you, and I hope that support and guidance will be available for many years to come. Thanks also to Paul Thomas for taking on the role of District Secretary, and all the work there, and to Linda Skingsley for all of her efforts with helping us make progress towards sorting training. Thanks also to Ian Carpenter with his help when we had the less than smooth introduction of Compass to contend with.
Particular thanks must go to both Chris. and Naomi Davis. The role of District Treasurer is an absolutely key one, as events in a neighbouring District a few years ago showed. That we have had no such issues in Blythe is not coincidence, but reflects the hard work that Chris. has undertaken in the background with the treasurers across the District. His support has been vital to the role of DC. He has carried out the role of Treasurer with aplomb, and has much to be proud of. Massive thanks are also due to Naomi for all of her efforts with the Badge Secretary role and for caretaking the ADC Beavers role. In particular, they’re due for all her support, both during my time as DC but also more widely. Thank you.
Finally, thanks to the leader teams of both First Shirley and Drake / Intrepid. These are the places that I am massively privileged to be able to view as home. I am very much looking forward to working with you all over the next few years, but your support has been incredibly important in enabling me to undertake the role of DC over the past few years. Whilst I’m going to call out Tony and Jacquie Fitzgerald, Matt Fitzgerald, Claire and Mike Fear, Chris. and Naomi Davis, Steve and Sandra Boot, JK, Alex Beedie, Ian Moore, Rory, Alice, and Jack Bennett, Kerry Devereux, Martin and Sara Attwood, Karl Rees, Pam. Tallis, Chris. and Claire Hodgskin, Andy Yeomans and John Male, Dawn Tullet, and James Reynolds, I am conscious that I will have missed people. Many apologies.
If I was offered the role of DC again, I would pause. However, what would make the decision easier is to hear that the role was DC of Blythe. One of the larger Districts in the Country, it’s incredibly fortunate that it has a talented group of committed supporters. I am confident that we will all support Suzanne Budd in her journey as Blythe’s DC. Good luck to her, and a huge thank you to you all.
From The County:
We’d like to say a massive Thank You to Andy for all his hard work over the years, he has been a fantastic person to work with.
Below is a snapshot of his time as a DC and Before in his other roles in scouting, which included being a unit leader for the World Scout Jamboree in 2007.