One hundred years ago this month the young boys of Chapel Street Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School in Ripley caught wind of a flourishing boys’ movement, – the Scouts.
They have never looked back – and to mark their centenary this year the group is getting ready to hold an open day on April 26.
In the early days the group of enthusiastic young men, led by Rev Morley Bright, known as the 1st Ripley Scouts became a pillar of the local community in what were truly dark days as Britain braced itself for the First World War.
The group suffered in its early years as young men began to enlist for service, which saw numbers dwindle, although those who held the group together kept morale high.
Twenty-five years after Rev Bright formed the group, he passed the reins to the William Henry Fairey.
After plenty of chopping and changing during and following the years of the war, the Scout group was forced to find new residency to accommodate its ever growing troop.
A disused sawmill on Butterley Plain on the outskirts of Ripley was offered to them by the Butterley Company, and became home for the coming years.
After years of memories including a particularly notable George V Jubilee beacon lighting, numerous camping trips and fundraising events, war once again reared its ugly head disrupting proceedings. Despite the turbulent times the group can proudly look back as its members could be regarded as the unsung heroes of the era. They worked tirelessly serving the local community in the absence of the fire service and many other vital roles left vacant due to the Second World War.
Like before, change was afoot following the war, and the Hutchinson family stepped up and led the Scout troop following the departure of Mr Fairey, who went on become district scoutmaster. Enoch Hutchinson became the Ripley scoutmaster and his son Ivan the assistant. Ivan would later go on to lead the group in 1954.
Dorothy Hutchinson, wife of the late Ivan,discussed her involvement in the group since she joined in 1941.
“I started leading in 1941 back when it was war time,” she said. “In those early years there was an emphasis on the young lads learning various skills that helped everyone in the local community during the time. It was a morale booster considering the situation we found ourselves in.
“After the war we began going on trips up and down the country. At first it was to places such as Skegness but as we grew again we branched out to places such as the Scilly Isles and Jersey.
“Ivan’s policy when he took over the Scout group was to take them as far away as we possibly could, because in those days parents just couldn’t afford to take them themselves, so it was a nice treat.
“Everybody paid for themselves, including the leaders. But if there was ever a lad who couldn’t find the means to pay we’d always find a way to make sure that they’d be able to go.
“Contrary to what people may think the boys were never any trouble. Over all the years we never had a single accident on any of our trips and it’s something we’re all incredibly proud of.
“We’ve always had terrific backing from a wonderful group of people on the committee and everything always went smoothly.
“We’d be planning our next trip before we’d even got home from the last one!”
While the group has enjoyed consistent success throughout the last 100 years, 1st Ripley Scouts secretary Jeff Short spoke of the changes modern Britain has had on the group.
“Obviously there’s a lot of children around now who are quite happy to sit around and play on their computers at home. It’s had quite a reflection on our group numbers. We have around 70 or 80 members right now, although we would have more young members if we had leaders, something we’re really desperate for at the moment.
“All in all Scouts is a great way of enjoying your spare time. It’s not hard work – everyone enjoys themselves.
“I urge young people to come and give it a try.”
As part of the group’s centenary celebrations it will be holding an open day on Saturday ,April 26, from 11am to 4pm.
There will be Scouting memorabilia on display and numerous activities going on throughout the day, including the opening of a time capsule that was buried 30 years ago and the burial of a new capsule. There will also be go-karts and much more.