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73rd Greenock & District

In 1945 an idea was formed and some seeds were planted, over the years this idea has been nurtured and the seeds have grown into one of the largest Scout Groups in the Greenock district. This group’s popularity is perhaps a direct result of the Groups long and colourful past.

Registered with Imperial Headquarters in London on the 19th January 1946, the 73rd Greenock began as the vision of three Assistant Scout Leaders from St Mary’s, Eddie O’Kane, John Welsh and Karl Healy, who began meeting in St Mungo’s Church Hall on 3rd September 1945.

This year also saw the formation of the Cub Pack, with the founding leaders being; Catherine Welsh, Jean Wright and Roma Hearl.

During their first year the Troop settled into their Group, concentrated on gaining badges and courtesy of John Welsh, held their first away camp at Troon. 1947 was a year of change for the Troop, it began well with the would be and reluctant actors of the Troop rehearsing and performing in their first ‘Gang Show’. However some sadness and the reality of war was felt in the news that ASM O’Kane was leaving in order to complete his national service, this was met with further bad news that ASM Healy was to emigrate to Canada, leaving the Troop in the more than capable hands of ASM Welsh. It was also in this year that the Troop first gained their campsite at the district camping site, Everton where they have camped quite happily to the present day. By the end of the year ASM Welsh left to complete his national service and ‘lay’ member James Canning took over as Scout Master.

1948 saw the Troop go on their first camping holiday and the following year, saw the Troop camping in Barra, it was during this camp that the Troop experienced their first taste of Hollywood glamour. Not only popular with the islanders, the boys also proved popular with a film crew that were on the island to film the movie ‘Whisky Galore’, however much to the disappointment of the would be actors the holiday finished before actual filming began and any parts could be handed out, no doubt a few potential Oscars were lost there!

The exciting events of these summer camps have continued right up to today. Perhaps however the most eventful camps have taken place right here in Scotland and a good example of this is the camp that occurred in 1968. In an ex-electricity board van that cost £30 and a £2 trailer attached to the back, the Troop set off on a trip around Scotland. During this trip the boys camped everywhere from camp sites to parks, and often many miles was spent driving to these as often when asked to decide on the places to stay, Patrol Leader Tom Hamill refused, declaring that the chosen site was ‘not in the scouting spirit!’ Although it rained the whole time it was agreed that a wonderful time was had by all! And this humble little van more than proved itself as when the trip was over it had traveled 1160 miles.

Not just content with attending their own camps, Scouts from the 73rd have also long since been present at the annual Jamboree camps held all over the world. 1957 just eleven years after the groups formation, saw the first 73rd Scout attend a Jamboree, Danny Canning went to England with sixteen other Scouts from the District to join the camp celebrating fifty years of Scouting and now fifty years later Danny’s great nephew, Alex Canning will also join sixteen other Scouts from the District, including 73rd members, Micheal Oakley and Mark Donnelly, at the Centenary Jamboree camp in London’s Hyde Park. Other Jamborees attended by the 73rd include; Canada by Bernard McGuiness in 1983 and Thailand by David Storey and Christopher Aitken in 2003.

In 1957 Ian Canning took over as Scout Leader when James Canning became Group Scout Leader, a post James continued until his retirement in 1975.

In 1968 Iris Canning, Ian’s wife, took over from Marie Petrie as Cub Scout Leader, and was assisted by Rosemary McCarter and Cathy Thompson. In 1987, Iris received her Medal of Merit, for services to Scouting.

Since their formation the 73rd Cub Scouts have attended many camps, on their own, with the Scout Troop and also with the District and have entered many competitions, with great success.

One of the most memorable was a national competition to make a cup of tea in the most usual place, after much deliberation the 73rd made their tea on a oil rig, under water no less! And were sure that this would take some skill to beat, tragically victory was not forth coming, as the Pack who made their tea in a disused railway tunnel won, and the pack felt suitably robbed!

2003 saw some change to the Cub Pack , with Joyce Calder joining as a Leader from the 101st, eventually Joyce was to take over as Akela. In 2004 Stephanie Kelly joined as Assistant Cub Scout Leader and the tradition of camps and competitions has continued.

1980 saw the Troop being kitted out in their uniforms of Blackwatch kilts which added to their brown and orange scarfs, that were synonymous with the 73rd. The origins of the scarf colours are unknown, it is known however that a mix up occurred and both the 70th and 73rd had the same scarf colours, eventually the 70th abandoned this scarf for another, however the 73rd stayed true to their colours and a pride in their uniform was formed that continues until the present day, it was also during this year that Ian Canning received a Medal of Merit for services to Scouting.

In 1992, a new Section was added to the Group with starting of a Beaver Scout Colony, with former Venture Scout Leaders, including Marie McGuiness, being the newest Leaders. The Leadership was taken over by Angela Aitken in 1999 and continues until today were the Beavers more than live up to their motto of fun and friendship!

No strangers to firsts, the 73rd have never shied away from change or setting examples. In 1985 the Venture Scout Unit accepted its first girl, the Scout Troop accepted its first in 1993 and the Beavers in 1995, which were the first in the Greenock District. In 1996, one of these girls, Christine Jackson, was the first girl Scout in Greenock to receive her Chief Scout’s Award and her Queen’s Scout award, she later returned in 1999 as a leader.

In 1999 Ian Canning retired after 42 long years, a Medal of Merit and a Silver Acorn, and some new blood was injected into the Troop in the form of David Storey. Ian’s retirement didn’t last long and in 2005 he came back as Assistant Group Scout Leader proving that Scouting was truly where his heart lies.

Since his taking over in 1999, David has maintained the high standards of the Leaders before him and dedicated much of his time to the Group. During this time the Troop has also entered almost every District Competition held as well as some out-with the district. In June 2006 the Troop entered the Area Flag Competition for the second time and came first, guaranteeing them automatic qualification for the Scottish Inter-Area Camping competition, held at Fordell Firs, where they competed against Troops from all over Scotland. As this was their first time in this competition the Patrol of three boys and three girls didn’t know what to expect and earned a hard fought second place, making them officially the second best Scout Troop in the whole of Scotland, a proud and rather emotional day for the 73rd, indeed!

Today sees the 73rd ever expanding and looking to the future, with the addition of a successful second Beaver Colony run by Beaver Scout Leader Angela McLean. The Group also in recent years has seen both David Storey and Joyce Calder take up District posts as an Assistant District Commissioner for both Scouts and Cubs. Nowadays with a membership of around 140 and rising, the 73rd has come along way from its early origins in St Mungo’s in 1945, this ‘forward into the future together’ attitude is felt by all in the Group, however a strong connection to the past is also felt by everyone, which in turn has created a Group that is proud, fiercely loyal to each other and shall continue for many, many years to come.

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Comment from Patricia Mitchell
Time March 19, 2007 at 9:25 am

Hi, that brought back some memories !!! Far too many scary haircuts!! I can’t believe some of these are from me 22 years ago!!!

Comment from John Perry
Time June 21, 2007 at 3:45 pm

Does the 73rd still have the same (1951-1965) vintage campsite at Everton? Ian still looks pretty good in your photograph.

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