Red Rose 2014: International Scout and Guide Camp

I’m part of the organising team for Red Rose 2014 – an international Scout and Guide camp being organised by West Lancs Scouts for next year from 26 July – 2 August 2014. It’s still early days in the planning but already it’s looking pretty exciting! It’s going to be an action-packed week at Westmorland County Showground near Kendal

My role is Head of Communications which covers the following areas:

  • Marketing the event – in West Lancs, across the UK and internationally
  • Communications with participants, staff and stakeholders
  • Branding the event, including turning an empty field into something that looks less empty – think banners, gateways, signage and more
  • Website and social media – you’d think considering my day job this would be easy but I’m learning new things in implementing the Red Rose website, Facebook page and Twitter account
  • VIP management – I think this is under me! Lots of showing people around site!
  • Internet cafe – this might not be mine either but I’m sure I’ll have an input into its running!
  • Public Relations – promoting Scouting (and Guiding – but mainly West Lancs Scouts!) through the running of a large high-adventure camp
  • “Red Rose Media” – this is the big one – we want radio, video, newspaper and website updates throughout the camp to create a buzz

Needless to say, it’s not going to be just me doing all this so I’m looking for a team to join me. If you think you’ve got skills to offer and the enthusiasm required to give up a week’s holiday to – effectively – work for free then get in touch with me via If you’re already a Scout or Guide then that’s great but if you’re not, and you fancy helping out in some way, that’s even better!

Mandate for change

NatWest sign

With the announcement of the General Election on 6th May you would be forgiven for thinking I’m getting all political, but not just yet – today I’m going to rage against the banks.

Over the last ten years I have been a signatory on various bank accounts for Scout Groups – Ormskirk Network while I was on the Exec and currently Ormskirk Crew and Ferrets Explorer Scout Unit. All three accounts have been held with Natwest or Royal Bank of Scotland, generally because their “parent” accounts are also held with those thanks.

When leadership teams or committees change there is a process to go through to change the signatories on an account and this is the right and proper way to prevent fraud and other crimes that could be assisted by having a few hundred quid from a Scout Group but each and every time I have tried to change an account’s mandate the bank – RBS or Natwest – has screwed up.

Twice in the last month I have discovered that mandates sent in last year were not processed meaning I have had to once again track down the old signatories to remove themselves and round up the new signatories to go into a branch and prove to the bank who they are.

Staff in the bank are usually very apologetic but never have they been able to offer me an adequate explanation as to why it happens – “it’s just one of those things” they’d say. No. It’s not one of those things, it is systematic incompetence and it needs to be sorted out now.

So would someone from RBS group’s social media team (you do have one of those, right?) please contact me with an explanation of what changes you are going to make to stop this happening again and personally take responsibility for the latest changes to our mandates – one for Ferrets’ account with RBS has just been sent in and I’ve just received forms to complete again for Ormskirk Crew’s Natwest account after the last set submitted last May went AWOL. My email address is I’m waiting.

Image creative commons licenced by Howard Lake.

Update 7th April 2010: Received an email from a representative of HSBC offering their services. Still no reply from RBS Group.

5th Ormskirk Scouts: Gone Home

5th Ormskirk Scouts

This place was a big part of my childhood. This is the location of 5th Ormskirk Scout Group, linked to the Parish Curch, hidden next to the graveyard from all but those in the know. I attended Cubs from age 8, then Scouts when I was 10½ before helping as a Leader up until I went to University.

The 5th didn’t have a Venture unit so I joined 9th Ormskirk (Christ Church, Aughton) and coming back to Ormskirk after University, a few of us started up an Explorer Unit in Parbold but the 5th is where my heart will always be.

It was sad to see 5th Ormskirk close ten years ago but changing populations in the town made it near impossible for three groups to survive and prosper. A few weeks ago, the building having stood empty for years was finally demolished.

5th Ormskirk Scouts

It was strange going back to see the space where the hut once stood but this isn’t a time to look back with regret, as Lord Baden Powell once said:

Scouting is a movement because it keeps on moving forward.

If it stops moving it becomes an organisation and is no longer scouting!

Elsewhere in the District things certainly are moving forward. By the summer there will be a fantastic new Scout and Guide headquarters in Parbold. Plans for a new District Headquarters are under-way in Lathom. Nationally, the number of young people enjoying Scouting is growing.

So here’s to 5th Ormskirk – gone home but not forgotten.