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Exhibition and book planned to mark 110 years of 5th Islington Scout Group

PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 February 2017

The 5th islington Beavers. Leaders from left are Daniel Gooding, Mari Timoney, David Evans. Picture: Dieter Perry.

The 5th islington Beavers. Leaders from left are Daniel Gooding, Mari Timoney, David Evans. Picture: Dieter Perry.

Dieter Perry

For its 110th anniversary, the 5th Islington Scouts are planning a book and exhibition. SAM GELDER got the leaders’ attention for a quick sneak peak.

The 5th North London Scout Group The 5th North London Scout Group

When a group of mischievous 14-year-olds formed a secret society named the Fearless Five in 1908, they probably didn’t think it would still be going 110 years later.

But the now more-conventionally named 5th Islington Scout Group continues to thrive, and is planning a book and exhibition to celebrate next year’s anniversary.

It will document how the five pranksters in the Bible class at St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Holloway Road, decided to change their idea after just a few weeks, following the publication of The Scout magazine.

That was printed following the roaring success of Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting For Boys serial, which created the scouting movement earlier that year.

The 5th North London Scout Group The 5th North London Scout Group

So the Scouting Boys, as they became known, were officially formed in June 1908, holding their first meeting in a private room above the National Provincial Bank in Upper Street.

Things were very different back then, as you can imagine. Whether today’s youngsters would be willing to walk 14 miles to church and back, like the troop did on their first ever camp in Surrey, is up for debate.

On another camp, in 1914, the group, now named 5th North London, was asked to move to another location four miles away. The reason? To help guard the under-channel cable to France at the outbreak of the First World War. The camp was extended for three weeks as a result, and then a “permanent camp” was set up in the Emmanuel Church Hall, Hornsey Road, for the boys on air-raid duty. They would ride around on bikes sounding the all-clear on their bugles.

These days scouting may seem a bit old fashioned, but leader David Evans says it’s a vital way to get kids outdoors and interacting with one another.

Pictured is the scarf from the first leader who died in WW1. Picture: Dieter Perry Pictured is the scarf from the first leader who died in WW1. Picture: Dieter Perry

“We try and do stuff which being in a city like London they don’t get to do, like climbing and water activities. We take them sailing on the Docklands and still teach them a lot of skills.

“These days a lot of children don’t walk anywhere. I was quite surprised when we did the highway code that a lot of the eight to 10-year-olds didn’t know it.

“It’s all about getting modern kids outside now. Lots of them love to play games and we get them outside and doing something different.

“We do the core stuff like camping and pioneering but also lots more modern stuff. For example there’s a ‘digital citizen badge’ which involves learning about being safe online.”

And it’s clearly working. The group has seen a boom in members in the last few years, with 70-plus children now wearing its sky blue and chocolate neckerchiefs.

Daniel Gooding became a leader in 1991 and claims he and the other bosses are still trying to figure out why that is the case.

“Maybe the parents are now realising they want their kids to do it,” he said. “They are more wary of them playing on the streets and technology has taken over the ‘play’ role for them.”

Daniel, David and the others have now been given the task of sorting out the archives and finding someone to exhibit the historical pieces.

“We’ve got boxes of stuff,” added Daniel. “We found a glass dome with a scarf of one of the leaders who was killed in the First World War in it. That’s 100 years old – it’s amazing.”

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