Centenary of visit by Baden-Powell

How the Baden-Powell visit was reported in the Sentinel...

How the Baden-Powell visit was reported in the Sentinel...

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A special scout service will take place on Sunday next, April 19, to mark the 100th anniversary of Lord Baden-Powell’s visit to Londonderry. It will take place in St Augustine’s Church, when the preacher will be the incumbent, the Rector Rev Malcolm Ferry.

Elements of the service will reflect Scouting as it was at the time of Baden-Powell’s visit and also Scouting as it is today. It is hoped to have a leader, dressed in the uniform of the period, to meet and welcome members of the congregation as they arrive and the Scout Law and Promise will be read and renewed both in their original and current forms.

The first Scout Patrol in Londonderry. The photograph was taken in 1908.

The first Scout Patrol in Londonderry. The photograph was taken in 1908.

All members of the Scout Movement, both present and past are most welcome to attend as are friends and supporters.

I will try to glean some further information on the visit from the local papers of the time and will get this to you by Friday.

Here is some biographical information on Baden-Powell.

If Scouting is about fulfilling your potential then Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell (or BP) certainly fulfilled his.

Rev. Canon Herbert McKegney receiving the Silver Wolf from the Chief Scout, Sir William Gladstone Bt. in November 1972. Included is the Chief Commissioner for N.I. Mr. Wilfred Brennan.

Rev. Canon Herbert McKegney receiving the Silver Wolf from the Chief Scout, Sir William Gladstone Bt. in November 1972. Included is the Chief Commissioner for N.I. Mr. Wilfred Brennan.

BP, or ‘Stephe’ as he was known as a child, was born in Paddington, London, on February 22, 1857. He was the eighth of 10 children of the Reverend Baden-Powell, a professor at Oxford University.

Baden-Powell preferred the outdoors to the classroom and spent much of his time sketching wildlife in the woods around his school. His irrepressible personality infuriated and impressed his teachers in equal measure.

After school, he went into the army, where he led a distinguished career through posts in countries including India, Afghanistan, Malta and various parts of Africa. The most famous event in Baden-Powell’s military career was the defence of Mafeking against the Boers in 1899, after which he became a Major-General aged only 43.

Baden-Powell retired from the army in 1910 at the age of 53, on the advice of King Edward VII, who suggested he could provide more valuable service to his country by developing Scouting and its sister movement, Guiding. In 1912, he married Olave Soames and had three children (Peter, Heather and Betty).

A portrait of Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement.

A portrait of Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement.

Baden-Powell wrote no less than 32 books, the earnings from which helped to pay for his Scouting travels. As with all his successors, he received no salary as Chief Scout. He received various honorary degrees and the freedom of a number of cities, along with 28 foreign orders and decorations and 19 foreign Scout awards. In 1938, suffering ill-health, Baden-Powell returned to Africa to live in semi-retirement in Nyeri, Kenya, where he died on January 8, 1941 at the age of 83. He is buried in a simple grave at Nyeri within sight of Mount Kenya. On his headstone are the words, ‘Robert Baden-Powell, Chief Scout of the World’ alongside Scout and Guide emblems. He was later commemorated in Westminster Abbey, London.

Baden-Powell is remembered on Founder’s Day, which is celebrated on his birthday, February 22, each year. To this day Scouts continue to enjoy activities in the outdoors and live out Baden-Powell’s ideas. As the great man once said, “life without adventure would be deadly dull”.

The visit was recorded in the local press of the day, including the Sentinel, which recorded the visit as follows: General Baden-Powell in Derry; Inspection of Boy Scouts

“Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Baden-Powell, KCB, KCVO, organisers of the Boy Scout movement and Chief Scout, in the course of his inspection of the local companies of Scouts and Girl Guides in Derry yesterday afternoon, paid a particularly warm tribute to the physique and efficiency of the First Derry Troop, which paraded at the Wall adjacent to St Augustine’s Church, under the command of Scoutmaster McCallum. They were, indeed, he said, a very fine, smart, well set-up company, and acquitted themselves splendidly on parade. The Second Derry Troop and the recently-formed branch of the Girl Guides Organisation also evoked the Chief Scout’s admiration. During a service in the church, conducted by Rev Thomas Baird, assisted by the Very Rev the Dean of Derry, the Lieutenant-general, in a pithy address to the boys and girls based on the Scots’ motto, ‘Be prepared’ exhorted them to do what their conscience told them to do their duty under all circumstances, no matter what the cost.

Image of St. Augustine's Scout Troop circa 1909. The scoutmaster is Mr A A Algeo and the clergyman is The Reverend Thomas Baird, Rector of St. Augustines and later Archdeacon of Derry.

Image of St. Augustine's Scout Troop circa 1909. The scoutmaster is Mr A A Algeo and the clergyman is The Reverend Thomas Baird, Rector of St. Augustines and later Archdeacon of Derry.

The distinguished General was accompanied by Mr Patterson, Belfast, Assistant Commissioner for Ireland of the Boy Scouts’ Organisation, and Mr Hume Babington, and was subsequently escorted round portion of the Walls by the Mayor and Mayoress.”