18th Maidenhead Scouting History
Scouting started at Desborough school in Maidenhead in 1941, with the arrival of the new Headmaster, Mr Eagling, who was pleased to report at his first meeting with the Governors that he had formed a Scout Troop of 25 boys, which was meeting every week. The Troop went to their first camp the following year. The Group was not formally registered until 1943. Later, a Senior Scout Section was formed which later became the Venture Unit. The Troop and the Venture Scout Unit met in various outbuildings, including a Nissan Hut.
The Group’s first purpose-built building was erected in 1965 on land leased from Berkshire County Council. It was a wooden structure and while it had electricity there was no running water for toilets or a kitchen. The building was officially opened by the then new Headmaster, Len Reynolds, a prominent member of the Scout movement, who later was awarded the OBE for his services to Scouting. By then the Group had some 36 Scouts and a similar number of Venture Scouts, including some female Venture Scouts.
In 1974 the Group formed a Cub Scout pack and over the years this grew to the limit of 36 boys, and one year won the District Flag competition for the best all round pack in the District.
In 1987 the Group formed a Beaver Scout colony and around this time the Group had grown to well over 100 members.
The building, which was at one stage extended to provide a special room for Venture Scouts, was destroyed, with all the Group’s equipment, in an arson attack in 1995.
For the next 8 years the School very kindly provided the Group with classrooms for its meetings and for which the Group was most grateful.
However there had been many difficulties in operating in a hand to mouth basis, with accommodation not designed for Scouting activities, and with storage facilities largely in the garages of the leaders, so Group numbers had to be limited.
In the 8 years following the loss of its Group HQ, the Group worked hard at fund raising to raise the £80K for its new building, its furbishment and equipment. Many of the Group’s supporters helped at the Group’s car boot sales, marquee hirings, Christmas catalogue sales, and at school events. Without this continued support the funds for the new HQ would not have been raised. Quite apart from finance, however, the Group was grateful for the continued support and the co-operation of the school and the local authority, who awarded a grant of £8K for refurbishment and equipment, as well as the many hours of work by a dedicated Group sub-committee in negotiating the terms of the lease over a 3-year period, resulting in a new 50 years lease. The New HQ was formally opened in 2003 by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP.
The current group has grown in size since 2014 when only a Beaver group was in place. Since then a well established cub group has been made and as the cubs reached scouting age a scout group has started and grown in size.
The group celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2018 with a big family camp at the scout camp side in Burnam Beeches. This was well attended by Beavers, cubs and scouts and their families and the leaders had organised many fun and challenging events throughout the weekend. The highlight of the weekend was a BBQ and campfire with previous members of the 18th maidenhead scout group, some of whom shared their experiences of scouting over the years. It was a wonderful celebration for all who attended.
Over the years this Group has given good quality Scouting to many hundreds of boys and girls. It plays a very active part in the local community and in the Scout District where it takes part in the many activities which the District organise. The Group has sent a number of its members to International Scout Jamborees and have produced a number of holders of the Chief Scout’s Award and the Queen’s Scout Award. Without good leadership this would not have been possible and the Group is anxious to attract more leaders to enable it to strengthen its position.
The Doreen Cutler Award
At the end of 2018 Maidenhead scouting lost one of their long standing members. Doreen Cutler was part of the 18th Maidenhead Scout Group family for over 40 years and she is sadly missed. In honour of her service to scouting and our group we have created the Doreen Cutler Award which is awarded to the Beaver, Cub or Scout that has demonstrated scouting qualities each term.