Motion confers Freedom of the City on Scouts

A motion to confer the Freedom of the City on the Scout Association was passed unanimously in Parliament yesterday.

It was moved by minister Edwin Reyes who said this was an appropriate opportunity to confer the honour on them as part of their centenary celebrations.

Scouts Association chairman Julio Alcantara spoke later of "the depth of gratitude and sheer sense of pride" felt by present and former Scouts.


This is the motion passed in Parliament:

?This House resolves that the Honorary Freedom of the City of Gibraltar be conferred upon the Scouts Association (Gibraltar Branch) in recognition of its dedication to the development of the Scout Movement in Gibraltar over the last 100 years and for instilling a sense of responsibility, duty and respect for others among the youth of Gibraltar over those years.?

Said Edwin Reyes: As I say in the Motion, the Gibraltar Branch of the Scouts Association are celebrating this year their 100th anniversary of being established in Gibraltar and the Government believes, and hopes the whole House will agree, that it is an appropriate opportunity to confer this honour on them as part of their centenary celebrations.

On 31st August 1907 General Baden-Powell led an experimental camp held at Brownsea Island, off Poole, in Dorset. This event gave birth to the now worldwide Scout Movement, and Gibraltar prides itself in being the first Boy Scouts unit to be set up outside the British Mainland since it formed its first Patrol in March 1908.

This first Patrol grew into a Boy Scout Troop made up of four such Patrols. The Troop duly registered itself as the 1st Troop and was fortunate to later obtain the patronage of the then Prince Louis of Battenberg, who subsequently changed his title to that of the Marquis of Milford Haven and whose Coat of Arms is still worn on the scarves of the Troop today.

A 2nd Troop was founded in Gibraltar in August 1910 by members of the Eastern Telegraph Company (later to become Cable and Wireless), and 1910 also saw the appointment of a Boy Scout Commissioner ? namely Major O H Pedley OBE JP who very ably lead and inspired the Boy Scout Groups within the Gibraltar Branch until his passing away in 1937. In addition to having a Commissioner, the Governor has held the position of Chief Scout of Gibraltar continuously since 1910.

The 3rd and 4th Scout Troops were formed in 1913 when the Boys? Brigade was disbanded locally and their Officers and Boys transferred into the Boy Scout Movement.

Further growths in the number of Scouts resulted in the 5th Troop being founded in 1914 as a Sea Scout Troop.

During the Great War Gibraltar?s Boy Scouts rendered valuable services as messengers, signallers, assisted in the manning of lookouts and even helped with the handling of war casualties who were landed in Gibraltar for further medical treatment. A good number of older Boy Scouts joined the Gibraltar Volunteer Corps and this even resulted in the Scoutmasters of the 3rd and 4th Troops being commissioned as Officers in the Corps.

After the Great War Scouting in Gibraltar continued to flourish and this eventually led to the formation of the 6th and 7th Groups with these two being made up entirely of Wolf Cubs.

As a result of the evacuation of women and children from Gibraltar at the outbreak of the Second World War, Gibraltarian Scouts formed their Troops in London and one in Jamaica. Meanwhile, two Service?s Rover Scout Crews were active in Gibraltar itself with the then Governor, General McFarlane, being an active supporter of the Crews. History records that the Service?s Rover Scout Crews performed very valuable services in Gibraltar throughout the duration of the War.

The return of Gibraltar?s evacuees as from 1944 saw the local Boy Scout Movement take on much of its former enthusiasm, and by 1946 Scouting was stronger than ever with regular Scouting activities taking place within the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Groups.

During the next few years the 1st Group amalgamated with the 4th, the 3rd Group became a Sea Scout Group and a new 8th Gibraltar Air Scout Group was formed.

Since the commencement of Scouting in Gibraltar 100 years ago, the Gibraltar Branch has been represented at eight World Scout Jamborees, sixteen Jamborettes (smaller events than Jamborees) and over twenty other International Scout Camps.

The last major International outing took place last year with Gibraltar being represented at the 21st World Scout Jamboree. This last Jamboree marked the Centenary of the founding of Scouting and over 40,000 Scouts from 110 different countries attended. A group of seven ?Old Scouts? from Gibraltar visited the last World Jamboree and participated in a three day event organised for ?survivors? of the Jubilee Jamboree held in 1957.

Gibraltar Scouts have, over the years, not only camped in various countries, but also played hosts to many international Scouting visitors.

In its own Centenary Year, the Gibraltar Branch of the Scout Movement continues to have flourishing Scout Groups made up of Beaver Colonies, Cub Scout Packs, Scout Troops and Explorer Scouts. In addition to these there is a Headquarter Unit providing support, etc, for the local Branch as a whole. The local Movement has a properly constituted Executive Committee, which is elected annually, and is composed of both ?lay? and ?uniformed? members.

Few institutions have for a longer period of time had a greater impact on more of our citizens, in successive generations, than Scouting has had. It is worth noting that, despite changes that have taken place over the years, the old Scouting Ethos still survives ? The Scout Promise, The Scout Law and the Aims of Scouting remain. The spirit remains very much as Baden-Powell intended all those many years ago and it is with considerable pleasure that I commend the Motion to the House."