Beacon marking a centenary of Scouting

MARK NICHOLLS A magnificent beacon - rich in its own global history - embarked on a new journey at the weekend as the centrepiece of celebrations in Norfolk to mark the centenary of Scouting.

MARK NICHOLLS

A magnificent beacon - rich in its own global history - embarked on a new journey at the weekend as the centrepiece of celebrations in Norfolk to mark the centenary of Scouting.

The Norfolk Scouts Beacon of Promise will travel around every one of the 126 Scouting groups in the county, fittingly arriving at the first and the oldest on Saturday morning in a ceremony that re-enacted the moment the organisation's founder Lord Baden-Powell arrived in Norwich by canoe in 1926.

The Beacon Lamp is the original anchor light from the SS Great Britain, which made its way into the possession of Norfolk Scouts after sailing on every ocean of the world.

On Saturday, it was ceremoniously rowed along a stretch of the River Yare to the headquarters of the 1st Norwich Scout Group at the Lakenham Scout HQ in the possession of Group Scout Leader Alan Adcock and Sea Scouts Alex Saunders and Milan Palmer.

The theme of the 2007 year of celebration is "One World One Promise" to help show that Scouting is today a movement with members of all faiths in many countries working for peace and friendship in an otherwise often hostile world.

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The Norfolk Beacon of Promise is seen as a symbol of the Spirit of Scouting that exists throughout the world with county Scouts hoping that the light from their Beacon will spread a greeting of friendship and peace from Scouts all over the world, reminding them they are all bound by the same promise.

It was accepted on the bank by the oldest known surviving member of the 1st Norwich Scout Group John Bracey - now 83 - and received in Scout HQ.

Mr Adcock said: "This was the start of the beacon's journey around Norfolk."

As it was handed over, Scout Josee Tisdale recited the Scout promise, watched by Cub Daniel Venn and Beaver Domynyk Belcher, seven, who said he was nervous but proud to be taking part.

His father Adrian said: "It was great to see him, I am really proud. There's not a lot to do round here but he is mixing with other children and really enjoying himself as well as learning good values from the Scouting movement."

Mr Bracey was a member of the unit between 1936-39 but after the second world war, when he became a teacher, he went on to become a Scout leader in Norfolk.

"Scouting has changed since then but I remember the camps and canoeing and also working towards the badges. The uniform, of course, has changed, but there is much more of a community side of Scouting now," said Mr Bracey, from Sprowston.

"But it is good to be here and to be part of the centenary celebrations."

Over the next 12 months, the Norfolk Scouts Beacon of Promise will make its way around the county by various modes of transport. There will also be a variety of events and camps during the centenary year with the high point being on the morning of August 1 at 8am - 100 years to the hour that Baden-Powell opened the first ever Scout camp on Brownsea Island in Dorset.

The sunrise ceremony - with the beacon - will be held on the beach at Yarmouth.