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Tribute & Congratulations to the 5th

The annual Founder’s Day Parade and Service of Celebration took place on Sunday 25th May 2008. The Service was held in Greenock Westburn Church of Scotland. During the Service the follow tribute was given by District Commissioner David McCallum.

Tribute to the ‘Dandy’ 5th by District Commissioner, David McCallum

Fellow Scouts, we are here today in this historical church building to celebrate the 100th birthday of a historical group, the 5th Greenock & District.

The Troop first met in the Territorial Drill Hall at the foot of South St, now the Sports Centre, In August 1908. They named themselves the 5th Greenock, having used the number of the Territorial Army regiment who met there also. Their first Scout Master, as they were called then, was a Sergeant Ferguson. The troop should really have been called the 1st, as they were the first group registered both in Greenock and the County of Renfrewshire.

In 1910 the Troop formed a pipe band which went on to win many honours in the 1920 and 1930, including the World Championship for scout bands in 1922. A set of bagpipes used by Charlie Park at that time are still being used today. The band went on for many years before joining the District Dunrod Scout band, which sadly disappeared in the 1980’s. Thanks to the enthusisam of 5th Scout Leader Campbell Cairns, the Leapmoor pipe band was started in 1999, the majority of members of whom come from the 5th. Campbell was awarded the medal of merit in 2006

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 here in Westburn Church today.

With the passing of the years, and changing times the military influence lessened and the church’s connection began to grow. The group 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 is now “Westburn Own”, to whom their connection is being enjoyed today. The support of the Rev Bill Hewitt is much appreciated by all at the 5th.

One young boy named Colin Finnie joined the troop in 1914. Colin remained in Greenock Scouting circles all his life and was awarded the Silver Wolf by the Chief Scout in 1983. He died at a right old age in the late 1980’s I have here today some of Colin’s Scouting treasures. His original 5th scarf, as sign of his membership and commitment to the troop, his wood beads, a sign of his commitment to training, his sheath knife, a sign of his outdoor and backwood skills and finally his Silver Wolf, a sign of his reward for dedication.

During the war years,with many of the leadership team on active service, and with war restrictions in force, there was very little opportunity to camp other than at Everton. Near to the end of the war in 1945 a welcomed summer camp was held in the Lake District. So off they went, on the train carrying their Identity Cards, Ration Books, and gas masks, slightly different from the Scouits of today with all our modern camping equipment, GPS, minibuses and the like

In 1946, Jimmy McElwee became Scoutmaster. Under his leadership, the Troop flourished to 50 Scouts and they took part in all of the local scouting activities of the day. Jimmy Introduced the troop to summer camps at Carnoustie, which became almost an annual event for many years. In this year, King’s Scout Badges were presented to 5 lads, Robert McKay, Gavin Hart, Andrew Harvie, Douglas Horne and David Hamilton. Jimmy went on to become an Assistand District Commissioner and was later awarded the Silver Wolf by the Chief Scout, Sir Charles McLean

Over the years the troop has had good representation at the World Scout Jamboree. In 1948, three members of the Troop attended at the 6th World Jamboree near Paris. One lad attended the 7th WSJ in Austria in 1953 and another attended the WSJ in Thailand in 2002

Camping standards played at large part in troop life in the 1960’s, with the troop winning the prestigious County Flag 3 times in succession in 1961, 63 and 65, a terrific feat indeed by any standard.

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

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

Also in 1962, the Parent’s Committee presented the Troop with new Colours. These were later layed up here in the church in 1995 by Rev William Hewitt.

In 1967, 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. He was appointed DSM(1967); ADC Leader Training (1972); District Commissioner(1975); Awarded Medal of Merit (1977); ADC Scouts(1986); ADC Scout Fellowship(1981); Awarded Silver Acorn(1994). Archie is currently a Honourary Vice President of the District

In 1991 Ronnie MacKay took over as GSL, a job he did for 5 years. He went on to do a variety of jobs in Scouting, and was appointed District Commissioner in 2003. He was awarded the Chief Scout’s Commendation for Good Service and later the medal of merit. Ronnie remains involved with the Scout Fellowship.

The current GSL is Steven Mitchell, who has 27 years warranted service.

This grand old group has produced many famous names over the past centuary including 2 MP’s, Albert McQuarry and Sam Galbraith, also a neuro surgeon. 2 District Commissioners and 3 Silver Wolf recipients. It has held many records of achievment with 11 King Scouts at one time, World Pipe Band champions and 3 in a row County Flag wins.

We all hope the 5th are here to stay for the next 100 years, and keep their close association with this church.

I would now say to the current leadership team of the 5th, you have a great history and should be proud of it. Please grow this great group so that the next generation can be as proud of it as you are today.

Please join with me in wishing the 5th a very happy birthday.

David concluded by reading the following letter of congratulations from Eleanor Lyall MBE, Scottish Chief Commissioner:-

Many Congratulations to the 5th Greenock on their 100th Birthday.

Birthdays are always special but to reach 100 not out is really special.

I send my warm good wishes to the young folks and the leaders of the 5th and trust that your second Centenary will be just as successful as the first !

To everyone gathered from Greenock District for the Annual Parade and Service I would ask David to convey to you my congratulations on a year of magnificent Scouting and to particularly thank the Leaders and Helpers who give of their talents to make Scouting happen.

Eleanor Lyall, MBE
Chief Commissioner of Scotland

Taking part in the Parade and attending the Service were a number of ’5th Old Boys’

Below is a photograph of some of the old boys taken outside the Church after the Service.

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