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5th Greenock & District

The Scout Group was originally registered as the 4th Company Boy Scouts in April 1908. The company was formed by Sergeant D. Ferguson of the 5th. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.  He had the honour of being Greenock’s first Scoutmaster.The Troop met in the Territorial Drill Hall at the foot of South St., now the Sports Centre. In August 1908 the Troop became the 5th Greenock when it adopted the Territorials regimental number.
We could officially call ourselves the 1st Greenock, possibly the first Troop in Scotland . We are still researching this!

In 1910 the Troop formed the pipe band and played at the first Annual Inspection held in the Battery Park in September of that year. The band went on to win many honours in the 1920’s including the World Championship for scout bands under Pipe Major Richardson of the H.L.I. They also won the Caird Shield, The Miller Shield, The Trades Cup, The Telegraph Challenge Trophy, Third in the Open Champonship in 1927 and second in the Open Championship in 1930. The band continued as an integral part of the Scout Troop until 1953 when it merged with the new Dunrod Scout Pipe Band

Also at the first annual inspection in 1910 the Troop was presented with the first set of Troop Colours in Greenock by General Friend and the 5th. became known as 5th. A.& S.H. Troop [ General Friend’s Own ]. These Colours hang proudly in Westburn Church today.

With the passing of the years, the military influence lessened and the church’s connection began to progress. Our registration was amended on the 1st of October 1914, to include in its title “West Kirk’s Own”. Thereafter, it was changed on 15th December 1967 to “Old Kirk’s Own”, and in recent times to “St.Luke’s Own” , and soon to be changed to “Westburn Own”, to whom our connection is being enjoyed today.

The Troop thrived in the 20’s and 30’s having many activities to interest the boys. It had its own gymnastic team, circus acrobats, football team, bugle band and theatre company.

During the Second World War, when many young Scouters were away on active service, the Troop was under the charge of “skipper” Jimmy Hair. Unfortunately, due to business and domestic circumstances he had to relinquish his responsibilities in 1944, but not before he had set in motion the process of re-establishing the Pipe Band. To this end, he secured the sevices of Charles Park as piping instructor. Charlie Park had been a member of the original pipe band which had won the World Pipe Band Championship in 1922. His pipes were still being played at that time, and are still playable today. The mace carrier was George Lorimer.

In late 1944, Jack Docherty became the Scoutmaster. He had been a former member.

During the war years,. there had been very little opportunity to camp other than at Everton, because of various restrictions. A decision to hold a Summer Camp in 1945 was very well received by all. This took place at Inverdale, in the Lake District. So off they went, carrying their Identity Cards and Ration Books.

In 1946, J.M.McElwee took over as Scoutmaster. He was an active member of the Kirk Session of the West Kirk, as it was known at that time. He was also a former Scout and very enthusiastic. Under his leadership, the Troop flourished and they took part in all of the local scouting activities of the day. They enjoyed Summer Camps to Carnoustie, which became a favourite spot, and was visited many times in the year to come.
In this year also, five Scouts were presented with their King’s Badge. They were Robert McKay, Gavin Hart, Andrew Harvie, Douglas Horne and David Hamilton. They are in the back row of this picture taken at the Summer Camp at Carnoustie.

Around this time, many of the former members who had been on active service returned to the town, and it was not long before they again became involved. Among those was Robert McKay, who was a first class gymnast, Jack Lochhead and Jimmy Scott. Jimmy had been on active service with the forces. Soon after the word quickly spread, and many of the senior boys became warranted assistants or members of the Rover Crew, the forerunner to Venture Scouting, and Explorer and Network scouting of today. They began to assist in the weekly running of the Troop, which by now numbered nearly fifty.

Such was the reputation of Jimmy McElwee, that he was asked by the County Commissioner to both organise and judge the County Flag (now Area Flag) competition. This he ably did at Everton camp and was assisted by Gavin Hart, a member of the Rover Crew.

In 1948, three members of the Troop – Roy McElwee, David Hamilton and Colin McCrae – represented the Troop at the 6th World Jamboree near Paris.

Under “skipper” McElwee the troop continued to flourish. He was later appointed as an Assistant District Commissioner. By this time, Archie Hart, Alex Meek and Donald McNab had become warranted leaders of the Group.

In 1953, the Pipe Band was very badly hit, when almost half of its members were called up for their National Service. Previously they had been deferred during there apprenticeships and professional training. Those who remained continued to play with the Association’s Dunrod Band. Several members of the band still reside locally – Bobby McKay, Albert Finch, Douglas Russell, Douglas Horne, Isaac Park and Ronnie Martin.
Robert Punton attended the 7th World Scout Jamboree in Salzburg, Austria.

In 1952, Duncan Murdoch was awarded the Gilt Cross for Gallantry.

In 1961, Alex Meek became seriously ill, and died. Archie Hart, who had acted as Scout Master through the time Alex had been unable to be at Troop meetings, was appointed Scout Master.
The Troop won the County Flag competition that year, and again in ’63 and ’65. You cound not enter the following year, so they had actually won three in a row, something unheard of at that time.


In 1962, eleven Scouts received the Scout Association’s highest award, the Queen’s Badge. This was, and probably still remains the highest number of recipients from one Troop, at any one time. They were:-

Robin Wallace, Donald Gray,, Samuel Galbraith, Roderick Galbraith, Ian McConnachie, Alan Clark, Roy Patterson, Ian Nicholson, Douglas Russell, Ian Ferguson and John Morgan

The then Parent’s Committee presented the Troop with new Colours. Only its second set since inception.

In recognition of his services to Scouting, Jimmy McElwee was awarded the Silver Wolf. When he later retired from Scouting in the late 1967, his assistant Archie Hart took over at Group Scout Leader., and Donald Gray becoming Scout Leader.
Archie went on to have a notable career in Scouting within the District and County (later known as Area). He was appointed District Scout Master(1967); Assistant Leader Trainer(1972); District Commissioner(1975); Awarded Medal of Merit (1977); ADC Scouts(1986); ADC Scout Fellowship(1981); Awarded Silver Acorn(1994).

In 1972,due to pressure of work, Donald Gray stood down as Scout Leader, and Ronnie Mackay took over. He had come up through the ranks and was Troop Leader during 1966/7, when Scouting radically changed its structure/uniform/age ranges. He had also been a “Cadet” Scouter in 1966, then became an Asst Scout Leader in 1968. Ronnie stepped down to ASL due to work and family commitments, handing over to Douglas Russell. In November 1977, he moved to the 1st Gourock as ASL at the request of Archie Hart, the then DC, due to a leadership problem there. He took over as Scout Leader in 1978. On the death of Donald King’s wife, took over as GSL moving later to VSL, before taking a break from scouting in 1989, for a couple of years. He returned to the 5th in 1991 as Group Scout Leader, a job he did for 5 years. He took on the role of District Scout Leader for the Scout Fellowship. He before becoming involved in Adult Leader Training, taking on the role of Assistant District Commissioner. He was awarded the Chief Scout’s Commendation for Good Service in 1994. He was appointed District Commissioner in 2003, a role he did for 3 years. He is currently Group Scout Leader at the 59th Group, and still remains involved in Adult Training.

02/04/95 : Laying up service for old Colours within St. Luke’s by Rev W.C. Hewitt
Presentation of Union Flag, donated by Miss Mabel Irving. Miss Irving presented with
“Thanks Badge”

March ’96 : Purchase of new kilts, donated by congregation of St. Luke’s.

April ’96 : Venture Scout Scott McMillan selected to attend Ocean Youth Club sailing week aboard “Taikoo”

Scout Leader Steven Mitchell was presented with the Long Service Award, for fifteen years service as a Leader

July ’96 : Group visit Faslane Submarine Base – first Scout Group to do so

April ’97 : Steven Mitchell appointed to the position of Assistant Group Scout Leader

02/10/98 : Group held a 90th anniversary ceilidh for parents and friend in the IBM Clubhouse

Jan ’99 : The Group was pleased to welcome Campbell Cairns as Scout Leader, having recently moved back to Greenock. Campbell had been a Scout with the 7th
Group and then an Assistant Scout Leader with the 75th Group, before moving to Glasgow and becoming Scout Leader of the 145th. Glasgow

14/03/99 : Presentation of Thanks Badge to Mr Robert Mitchell, in recognition of his services as Group Treasurer.

June ’99 : Craig Cameron and David Whiteside selected to take part in an expedition to Austria

Oct ’99 : Campbell Cairns reformed a Pipe Band – Leapmoor Scout Pipe Band the majority of whose members currently come from the 5th. Troop

Jan ’02 : Mark Duffy selected to attend the World Scout Jamborree in Thailand

Oct ’03 : The Scout Troop win the Adventure Challenge Trophy at Invertrossach Camp site and become scottish light weight camping champions.

Oct ’05 : The Group’s registration wand amended to “St. Luke’s”

Spring ’06 : Steven Mitchell formally appointed as Group Scout Leader

July ’06 : Steven Mitchell presented with “Bar to Long Service Award” for 25 years of service as a leader

Dec ’06 : Campbell Cairns presented with Medal of Merit for outstanding services to scouting

Jan ’07 : As we enter the Movement’s centenary year, the Group’s shows a
strength of 77.
The is made up as follows :

Beaver Scouts 11
Cub Scouts 18

Scouts 11

Explorer Scouts 20

Adult Leaders 7

Fellowship 10

We look forward to our own centenary, which will be celebrated in October 2008.

The Dandy 5th

Below is a photograph of the Group taken in 1962. Click on to it a view a further selection of photographs.


5th Renfrewshire Venture Unit.jpg


Comment from Ronnie Mackay
Time May 14, 2007 at 10:06 pm

I was in the Troop at the time of the Troop Photo, but for some reason I’m not in it. I do however recall quite a number of those in it.
As for the Venture Unit…. it most of the others to mind –
Back Row — ?, John Reikie, Ian ? (ex-32nd), Derek Chambers, ?, Lester Oakley,
Front Row — Robert Jackson, Nairn Galbraith, Brian Martin (Kenny Paton’s Brother-in-Law), Douglas Russell, Kenny Shields, Ian Chudleigh.
I did have the privilege, along with Ian Nicholson, of travelling with them on the first Unit Camp abroad to Denmark. We fell in love with Holland, and never got any further.

Although I have, over the years, become involved with other Groups, the

Comment from kenny shields
Time June 3, 2007 at 10:22 am

Hi Ronnie.

Like the pic, back row third from left is Jim Cumming & I’m not so sure if Campbell Collins is the one beside Lester Oakley ?
I’ll see you at sometime today.

Take Care.


Comment from Ian Lorimer
Time October 7, 2008 at 3:33 pm

I came across your Website and looking at the Golden Oldies photos I saw my father in Photo 0045. He is the mace carrier, his christian name is actually George Lorimer not Cameron. His mothers surname was Cameron.
My daugther has a copy of the photo preserved.
We migrated to Western Australia in 1949 and my father passed away 16 years ago.
I also have my fathers pass into Olympia Halls London for the First World Jamboree.
I have enjoyed viewing your site.

Ian Lorimer

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