History of the group

THE HISTORY OF WEST COKER SCOUT GROUP
To view the full extracts, photograph's and events of the West Coker Scout Group chapters from 'Yeovil & District Scouting from it's inception' by D.A.Bayliss, please click here: West Coker Scouts History

By all accounts Scouting is Yeovil District started in 1909 by the salvation army, but it was not until March 1934 at the old school rooms on a Friday night at 7pm where West Coker Scouts was first registered with scout Association (No. 16157) by the rector of the village, Reverend George A.Nicholson. The troop started that evening with 14 scouts with an original neckerchief colour of yellow edged in green, and the uniform was subsidised by the Church.

One of the first events for the newly formed troop, under Rev. Nicholson, was the annual district St. George’s Day Service in King George Street, Yeovil, on Sunday afternoon of April 22nd.

The following year (1935) the Silver Jubilee celebration of King George 5th included a procession on Monday May the 6th, leaving the School that included the Girl Guides with their standards, and the Boy Scouts, led by a drum and bugle band, made a grand tour of the village. The procession returned to the Church for a Service of Thanksgiving. Children’s sports were held in the grounds of Manor House, lent by Right Hon. Sir Matthew Nathan. Contests between the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts were a feature, with rope passing, relay races and knot competitions. The Brownies played against the Wolf Cubs also. A bonfire had been built on West Coker ridge, when the Scouts lit it at 10 pm. and at the same time a rocket was fired into the sky emitting yellow, red and green stars. This was repeated all over the land at all the other beacon sites.

At the Yeovil Association annual meeting was held on Wednesday October 21st1936 when the Secretary, in his report, reported that a small troop at West Coker had lapsed. However, on Sunday evening of November 8th, the Scouts joined the British Legion members in their parade to the War Memorial of the village for a Remembrance Service. Subsequently I.H.Q. cancelled the group registration.

Luckily for West Coker Scout Group Mr. L.J.M.Eldridge of East Chinnock registered the 1stWest Coker group at I.H.Q. in October 1938 with 8 Scouts, as an ‘open’ group, which in turn re-registered the group with the number 19761.

Five members of the troop (of 8) went into Yeovil to compete in the inter-troop sports held for the first time, on Saturday September 7th1940, on St. Nicholas School playing fields. When in the Scout events the winners had 54 points, and West Coker had 4 points to come in fourth place.

At the District A.G.M. held in the Grass Royal School, Yeovil, on Friday October 3rd1941 it was reported that the troop had difficulty in getting new Scouts sworn in for lack of uniforms, parents being reluctant to part with ‘Margarine’ coupons for that purpose!

In 1949 the troop collected over £3 during the Scout Bob-a-Job week, and Michael Dodge came first with over £1, and next was Norman Warr with 17 shillings.

On Saturday morning of June 4th, the Scouts, with the Barwick and Stoford Scouts, went on the 10 am train from Penn Mill Station, Yeovil, for the Whitsun weekend camp at Sandford Orcas, when the troops camped together.

In 1950, When John Booth left in October to take up a course, Mr. Ted. Robbins took over as Scout Master. At the district L.A. meeting of January 19th 1950 it was reported that the Scouts were not working properly as a troop, being somewhat mixed up with a mixed youth club.

The 1stWest Coker Scout group was registered by Cecil Robins as S.M., and Ivor Rogers as A.S.M. in July (1950) as an ‘open’ group, but the form didn’t get sent to I.H.Q. until February, who gave them number 28843.  The form quoted 8 Boy Scouts and 2 Senior Scouts, meeting at the headquarters, ‘The Laurels’, East Street.

At the district meeting on November 9th, the Secretary reported that the troop was closing down through lack of numbers. The Scout Master would endeavour to restart a troop at East Coker as most of the boys came from there and absorb keen members from West Coker.

At the L.A. meeting on the 1stFebruary 1952 it was agreed to enquire what funds and property belonged to the troop, and at the meeting on March 28th the Scout Master was asked to give an account of any money or property belonging to the former West Coker troop. At the district Executive meeting held in Yeovil on 28th it was reported that the Scout Master of East Coker was asked to give an account of any money and property belonging to the West Coker troop, when, at their meeting on June 20th it was decided that funds and property belonging to the troop should be utilised for the benefit of the East Coker troop in view of the fact that the remaining Scouters and Scouts had joined the latter. With the group closed, they gave their trek cart to East Coker.

After 17 years of West Coker Scouters linking with East Coker Scout Group. An open meeting was held at The Castle Hut, in the pub yard, on Tuesday, November 10th1970, when the D.C. (Mr. Jack Wiltshire), and Mrs. June Enticott (the Cubs’ A.D.C.), came and spoke to parents of boys about forming a Cub Scout pack at West Coker, and what things one had to consider. The prospective leader, Brian R.Taylor, who now lived in the village (from Yeovil) attended a few Cub meetings at Thor Pack, St. Andrew’s, Yeovil, to get familiar with the format.

On Wednesday February 17th1971 a party was held in the hut for perspective Cubs, when about 14 boys turned up to play games. The next week a trial meeting was held, when 13 boys attended for about an hour and the following week another meting attracted 15 boys for the hour. Come April 14th they were holding proper meetings from 6 pm. to 7.30 pm., with more boys joining, and the next week there were 20 boys who came to the outdoor meeting, when they cooked sausages, etc., and finished up with a singsong.

The 1stWest Coker Scout group was registered by H.Q. in May as number 40114, meeting at The Castle Hut. The form quoted Brian as C.S.L., and two Instructors, with 10 Cubs, as an ‘open’ group. They had a blue scarf with white borders (the same scarf we where today as West Coker Scout Group members).

The district had their Cub camp at Etsome Farm, Somerton, when the pack visited them on the Saturday of July 10th, when they took packed lunches, and during the very hot day joined in the activities. They ate their packed tea ready for the campfire and singsong that followed, and they left at the conclusion at 8 pm.; after an exciting insight into camping. For more details see the main chapter.

The Guides, Brownies and Cubs held a joint barbecue on Tuesday evening of August 24th, in the recreation field, followed by a campfire singsong, when the money they raised contributed £18.5½p. to the Cub funds. On the Sunday morning of October 3rd, the three units went to the Parish Church for the Family Harvest Festival Service.

At the district Warrants sub‑Committee meeting in Yeovil on the 21stMrs. Edith Taylor was interviewed for A.C.S.L., and her application was accepted. So on Wednesday the 27ththe D.C. came and presented her (Baloo) with her permit, and Clive Baker (Red Six) was presented with his Bronze Arrow and Handyman proficiency badges.

The pack football team in the district Cub League, played Raleigh (4thYeovil) on Sunday 23rdJanuary 1972, but lost by 3 to nil. Of the six games played, they had lost all of them!

On the first anniversary of the pack forming, a party was held on the February 9thmeeting, when the Cubs played games and songs were sung, and Mr. and Mrs. Taylor performed a sketch for the boys. Due to the schedule of power cuts, as part of load shedding (due to industrial action by the electricity workers), the meeting of the 16thwas cancelled.

The Cubs had got their flag, so on Sunday the 15th, with the Guides and Brownies, they paraded from the square to the Parish Church to the morning United Service during which the flag was blessed by the Rector (Rev. Lionel Bailey). D. Gleave who had John Worledge and Thomas Neville as escorts carried the flag. The Brownies and Guides’ ‘colours’ were also taken to the altar. C.S.L. Brian Taylor and Cub C.Baker read lessons. 

On Saturday 8thSeptember the older Cubs were formed into Scouts, so Brian became their leader, leaving Edie to run the Cubs. C.Baker, G.Miller, Michael and Thomas Neville, and Andrew Wain were in the troop and they hiked to the Oak Campsite with Brian on Saturday the 15th, and cooked sausages before returning home.

The first meeting of the year had 21 Cubs attend on Wednesday January 9th1974, and the Scouts followed when there were 5, plus two Cubs doing the Link badge requirements.

The Cubs celebrated their seventh birthday in 1978 when Rikki (Brian Docking) awarded prizes for cards made by Andrew Greenwood – First, Timothy Hooper – Second, and Jason Field – Third. The parents of the group met on Thursday 27th of April to hear the progress of the troop who were now 13 in number, with 2 leaders, and the pack, when some of the work of the Cubs and photographs of the last 7 years were on display. 

The Cubs celebrated their birthday in February 1979, when, during the evening, besides doing work on Nepal project, ‘For the Year of the Child’, they played games and had refreshments.  There was a good entry for the Valentine Card competition. The acting District Commisioner (Mrs. Leveridge), went to the pack meeting the end of April and presented Brian Docking with a Cub Leader Warrant.  He had already spent 5 years with the pack, and there was a photo. Of them in the ‘W.G.’ of May 4th, see fig. 40.7.

The Cubs’ spring term for 1980 ended on March 26th, when 5 boys were invested by Akela (Mrs. E.Taylor). There was a great number of Easter Eggs entered for a competition for the best decorated one, when all were beautifully done and most varied.  Refreshments were served to the parents present. The Scouts went to the County Jamboree at Stogursey for the last weekend of May, when the Fox patrol were given a Novices award, as they had not camped at the Jamboree before.

The 13 Scouts had a sponsored pram push around the playing field for 24 hours, when throughout the night they did one hour on and had three hours rest.  Paddy Ashdown (a prospective parliamentary candidate for Yeovil), came and gave them a push off on Saturday October 4th.  They did 80 miles in the time and raised £175 for the troop funds, when they hoped to buy lightweight tents, and there was a photo. of  them in the ‘W.G.’ of the 10th, see fig. 40.9.

A special meeting was held on January 10th1983 when the A.D.C. (Miss Peaty), and the District Secretary (Mrs. Young), attended, as Mrs. Shirley Sturman was wanting to start a Cub pack at Odcombe, attached to the Coker group, but it was unanimously agreed that the leaders and Committee should have been informed earlier to discuss this. However, the meeting did approve of the formation of a new group, who would have their own committee and fund-raising at Odcombe, but would provide a list of boys, etc., to the treasurer, for the census.

At the committee meeting of January 30th1984 the Treasurer, Mrs. Anne Smith-Stephens, reported that there was £180 in the funds. The Cubs would fund-raise to buy a football strip, but the Cub Leader reported that they required lamps, tables, etc.. The Scouts wanted two tents, axes and bush saws, and had bought two tents from High Ham group for £100, of which the Committee agreed to pay half. A recent wastepaper collection had raised £38.27. Eight Scouts paid £1 a head to cover the petrol of the transport and refreshments, to go to Tedbury campsite at Frome on February 26th, to enter the Cyclo-Cross, when the entrance fee was 30p a race.

At the committee meeting on January 19th1986, Mr. George Leaver was welcomed as the new Chairman. It was announced that the school P.T.A. would loan the Committee the outstanding balance in the purchase of a marquee, interest free, so that they could hire it in July!  Mrs. Gill Harris reported that she had had a break-in and the £63 subs. and holiday money was stolen. (She joined the Cubs’ sponsored silence for an hour, the first week in February to recover the money lost), and the Cubs raised over £200. The special project account stood at £110, the total balance being £460. The Cubs’ sponsored silence money raised was used towards the group’s purchase of a marquee.

On the 16thJune 1986 West Coker Scout Group welcomed Beavers Scouts to the group for the first time.

The Cubs had a team of Rob Foote, Mark Cleal, James Kearney, Gerald Went, James Holloway, David Brice and Robert Foster enter the district 6-a‑side football competition held at Yeovil College in the sports hall on Saturday February 6th1988, when they won.

In the New Year of 1987 the Cubs’ football team had a ‘strip’ presented to them by the T.S.B. Bank who also gave them £25 donation towards the new H.Q..  There was a photo. of the team with Akela (B.Docking), and treasurer (K.Harris) in the ‘W.G.’.

On the 29thApril, Carl Docking, the first Scout of the group to achieve it, received the Chief Scout’s Award from Eddie Wellman (A.D.C. Scouts), when there was a photo. of them in the ‘W.G.’ of the 15th of May.  Eddie had been running the troop for a few weeks in the New Year, as the group was still without a Scout leader.

The group A.G.M. was held on Thursday the 30th, when the new Secretary was Pat Purchase, and the meeting was dominated by the talk of new headquarters. They had bought a wooden building, an ex show one, from the closing-down of Messrs. Hebditches factory at Martock, that matched the pavilion, to be re-erected next to the pavilion on the playing field. They had received a quote of £200 to dismantle and re-erect it, as the building and planning had been accepted by Yeovil District Council. The Scout Association would be trustees, for a fee of £50, and the District Council would give a grant of 50% of what was spent, up to a maximum of £3,000. It was reported that the group had a stall at the Church fête last June.

Mr. David Bowerman, an eminent local businessman, officially opened the new H.Q. in Halves Lane in June 1988. The parents, leaders, Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies were present, and Mr. K.Harris, the Treasurer, was presented with a ‘Thanks’ badge for all the hard work put in by him. The Scouts changed their meeting night to Monday evening’s, from 7.15 pm. to 9pm.

At the District Executive meeting on 27thSeptember 1988, it was brought up that the group wished to have a badge on their scarves and was agreed, see fig. 40.30.

The details between the completions of this chapter on West Coker Scout Group by the hard work and research of Derek Bayliss in 1988 and the start of 2007 where I, James Divall, the current scout leader at West Coker took over with the troop is at present unclear but something I am determined to research and find out more on (so watch this space).

It was the winter of 2007 where I came into contact with West Coker. A camp at Tedbury, Frome was the last activity the Charlie Reed who was stepping down as Scout leader due to having to go to see with the Navy. The troop was a good size of 8 scouts with a mixture of experience and lots of energy. Charlie Reed was a good leader with enthusiasm and passion for scouting, loved his outdoors and was well respected by the Scouts so I had a hard act to follow.

January 2008 was my first night in charge alone and with a new leader, daunting but exciting it was a chance to but my own scouting knowledge and style into practise.

A year went past quickly but between 2008 and 2010 the troop numbers had grown to 25 scouts and 5 assistant leaders. The programme had developed both with the inclusion of adventurous activities, new summer camp locations and with the personal development and scouting education of the young scouts resulting in successful achievement for the troop such as winning the District Scout Chess and Draughts competitions, the District Jamboree camping competition the first time in the troops history, and the County Draughts competition.

In the 2011 we recorded our must successful year ever as West Coker Scout Group with the troop growing to an all time high of 35 scouts, 2 young leaders, a scout leader and 4 assistant leaders. The troop grow more success within the District & County annual competitions with the retention of the District Jamboree Banner, as well as the 2nd prize and Novice trophy at County jamboree and the District Novice and the District Trophy at the same camp. The year also saw a 2nd in the District 4-a-side football competition and wins for Oliver Cordy in the District Draughts and a 1st and 3rd for Matthew Bracher and Will Iredale respectively in the County Cyclo cross. 

2011 and saw 4 West Coker Scouts (James Haiselden, Oliver Cordy, Will Iredale & Oscar Baylis) receive the chief scouts award from the chief scout himself (Bear Gyril’s) at the District Jamboree event on Saturday 7th May.

In September 2011 – West Coker Scout Group signed a partnership agreement with Yeovil District Scouts and East Coker Scout Group to open an Explorer scout unit to be hosted at West Coker Scout Headquarters. Mike Beckerleg took control of the unit called Coker Crusaders Explorer Scouts, as leader in charge. The unit first opened with 5 Explorers scouts first meeting on a Thursday night, but has since moved to a Monday.

2012 – Started with a victory in the Scout district 4-a-side football competition for West Coker Scouts. Further achievements followed this year with West Coker Scouts won the District Banner for the 3rd year running at the District Jamboree Camping Competition.

In June 2012 – West Coker took part in the largest ever Somerset County Scouts event called Scoutfest 2012, held at Wincanton Sports Ground. The event was part of the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations holding over 1000 scouters on the sports ground.

The Scout section hit record numbers in this year due partly to the closer of the Guide section in West Coker. The numbers hit 40 scouts in the summer of this year.

2013 – Saw West Coker Scout Group hit their highest numbers since first forming in 1934. At the start of the year West Coker had 24 beavers, 30 cubs, 36 Scouts (20 of which were girls) and 27 Explorer scouts. Numbers of helpers grow and the Districts first Group Scout Active Support Unit was formed with over 20 members signing up from parents, current scouters and passed local scouters.

The year started with great success again with West Coker Cubs winning the District Draughts (Oli Pond) and coming 1st(Ben Mitchell) and 3rd(Elijah Wood) in the Chess. Our Scouts also followed suit with a 1st(Sam Thurgood) in the Chess and a 3rd(Oli Kemp) in the Draughts.

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