A Change of Leadership for Thurrock Scouts

7th August 2023
After 10 very successful years, Graham Monk has reached the end of his time as District Commissioner.

We offer a massive thank you to Graham for everything he has done for the District over the past decade, including the difficult task of leading us through the Covid pandemic and the merger of the previous Thurrock and Stanford-le-Hope Districts. We won’t be losing his knowledge and experience however as he is taking on the role of Group Scout Leader at East Tilbury. We wish him well in his new role.

Stepping into Graham’s shoes and taking on the re-titled role of Lead Volunteer will be Ian Scott. We recently spoke to Ian about his new role.

First of all, congratulations on your new appointment. Can you tell us a bit about your Scouting history?

I was a Sea Scout with Thameside – I was on the waiting list to be a cub at another group and never got to the top of the list. Back then the Scout age range was 10-16 and there was no such thing as Young Leaders but for my Chief Scouts Award I did my service with the Thameside Beaver Colony – I remember my first meeting when I was physically overwhelmed by the enthusiastic greeting of the 20 Beavers. I wasn’t a natural as I’m not great with arts and crafts but always looked forward to decorating biscuits!
I was a Venture Scout initially with 1st Grays and then with 7th Grays. Although I never completed the top awards in Scouting or DofE I was fortunate to gain my Explorer Belt (which still fits and I am proud to wear as part of my uniform).
As an adult it’s fair to say I’ve got about a bit in terms of roles and locations – I’ve been a Cub Skills Instructor at Stifford, and then Assistant Scout Leader, Group Scout Leader and Group Treasurer at Aveley. A District Scout Leader, Local Training Manager (when the current modular scheme was launched), County Training Manager, Assistant District Commissioner Activities and most recently as an Assistant Explorer Scout Leader. I’ve also held roles on three Essex Jamborees.
I was also in the cast of our Gang Show for 6 years.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

Getting to meet even more of our amazing volunteers (although I’ve been surprised by how many know me or of me already) and seeing our young members enjoying quality Scouting. I like seeing others getting the same enjoyment out of Scouting that I’ve experienced over the years.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be as Lead Volunteer?

Achieving a volunteering / home life balance. At the moment it’s understandable that people want to meet so that we can exchange views and ideas.
Once I have a clearer picture of what I believe I need to do in the short, medium and long-term, I’ll need to draw on the skills and knowledge of individuals and teams to help progress Scouting in the District.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

The first 2 months – meet with as many of the District Team (deputies, ADCs etc.) as possible. Undertake appointment reviews as required and encourage others to get up to date with their reviews.
September to November – the focus will be on delivering the first elements of the transformation programme.
The rest of the year will be getting out to the wider District and continuing the transformation programme (including the changes to learning).
And on top of all that completing my own induction and learning.

Finally, what are your three favourite Scouting memories?

It was difficult to select only three – pretty much every memory I have of Scouting makes me smile and reminds me of the opportunities and fun I’ve had, along with the friendships that I’ve made.

The three I’ve selected highlight why I’ve never stopped being a Scout.

  1. Summer camps as a Scout. We always went to greenfield sites (one was literally a farmers field with the leaders having to drive to the local garage to get water). We camped as patrols cooking over open fires and during the week the programme was based around gaining an activity badge (map making, survival etc.). One year we made a coracle (look it up!) to cross a river to get to the ‘island’ we were using for our overnight survival / backwoods sleepout. My mum used to say that I couldn’t cook in a fully equipped kitchen but stick me out in the garden I could fend for myself quite well.
  2. My Explorer Belt – the freedom of being trusted to work largely unsupervised as a team of 4, completing mini-projects travelling by public transport across different countries was my first real taste of independence. I’m still in touch with the rest of the team and one emigrated to New Zealand but I took my family out to visit a few years ago to relive some of the memories. The rest of us meet up each year to volunteer for Scouting – in our minds at least, we’ve not changed at all and still enjoy each other’s company.
  3. During my time as County Training Manager for Essex, I spotted that we needed to somehow try to increase the number of courses that were run, including the modules that have a low demand or specialist content. I realised that this couldn’t be done just using scout buildings but if we could use a school…think of all those unused classrooms…
    I mentioned my idea to the leadership team and within months the first Scout School was run (it does help if one of your team is also a senior member of staff at a centrally located school!). Having a team prepared to take a leap of faith on your idea is very humbling.  For me it was great to see the training team coming together in such a visible way and to see all of the networking happening during lunch.