Wow! 81 years in scouting how many of us can match that?
Bert joined the Scout movement in 1936 as a very young Scout in the 13th Lewisham South Group. He remained with this Group as a Scout until he was evacuated to the West County during the war. However, as it was war time, and he had reached the age of 18, Bert was conscripted into the Army in 1944.
As a young man, he took part in the fighting across Belgium and Germany, eventually serving in the Army of Occupation in Berlin. Even here he remained connected to his love of Scouting. He met several likeminded ex-Scouts also serving in the Army and together they formed an Army Rover Scout Group. They even managed to entertain other troops and officials, by putting on a Gang Show complete with songs and sketches. One of the Group managed to cobble together enough bits and pieces to make a primitive recording apparatus and a Bakelite recording of one show. Amazingly a copy of which still exists.
Returning from active service, Bert re-joined his local Scout Troup, now the 12th Lewisham South, as a Scout Leader. It was a reformed Group from others where leaders had been lost in the war and re-organisation was needed.
The 12th, for Bert, was obviously a great place to be as it was here that he met Audrey. She had joined the Group as a Cub Instructor whilst he was away having been lent from the Girl Guides to help the Group out. The 12th seemed to have had a marriage broker undercurrent as Audrey was assisting the Cub Leader, Sylvia Ruberry who became Bertís sister-in-law by marrying his brother Len.
Eventually Bert and Audrey married 1953, and later moved into Kemsing in 1958 although he stayed on as the Senior Scout Leader with the 12th travelling up to Lewisham. In 1962 it became evident that the Kemsing Scouts, the 6th Sevenoaks, needed a new Scout Leader and so Bert joined. Audrey, at the time was already helping the 6th as a Cub Leader.
As Scout Leader, he had so many scouts at the Sixth, including our own 3 sons (who often tell us how much they benefitted from their time with him) that they and many of their friends stayed on as Venture Scouts under Eric Jones. Bert did so well with so many scouts they all have happy memories of his work here.
In 1975 he became the Group Scout Leader and stayed with the group until 1991 when he had to retire, as we all did in those days at the age of 65. During his time, as GSL a new scout hut was built. Much of the cabinet work that he built and installed still exists. Under his leadership, the group successfully carried on and expanded in numbers.
For all his good work, he was awarded the Silver Acorn in 1989. After hearing of the award Bert said, "Itís not really for me, but for all the other Scouters in the Group, as, without them, I would be GSL of nothing".
But he still did not stop and, with Fred Burridge, became a founder member of the Sevenoaks Scout Fellowship where he continued helping where ever and whenever he was needed. He was a regular member of a team of us who helped maintain and fit out the District HQ in Seal - much of the restoration woodwork of the building is still there as a result of his talents.
It is difficult to determine how many Young People must have benefited from his work in Scouts. Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and all the variations of Senior Scouts to Explorers. Detailed records are almost impossible to trace, but an approximate estimate is that well over 1000 young people will have learnt Scouting principals and practice from him.
Sadly, this help came to an end when he had his first stroke 4 years ago, but he continued being able to join us at many of our meetings with the Sevenoaks District Active Support.
The last Active Support meeting he enjoyed was at County Headquarters, Lower Grange Farm, just before Christmas when he really enjoyed his mulled red wine and mince pies!
Bert was a quiet man who just got on with the job in hand.
He did His Best, and his Duty to God and the Queen, and in improving the lives of so many young people.