Why did I raise money for the Scouts?
I did this walk in aid of the UK Scouts’ “Hardship” fund, which is used to help support a UK Scout or Guide in hardship to go to the World Scout Jamboree in Japan in 2015.
I did this because both of our sons have been lucky enough to go to Jamborees (Essex and Sweden) and I wanted to give something back to the Scouting Association which has had such a major and positive impact on our boys’ childhood and young adulthood.
What are “jamborees”?
“World Scout Jamborees” are held every four years and are open to Scouts and Guides from all countries around the world. There are typically around 35,000 participants, from 150 different countries. The UK will be sending a contingent of selected Scouts and Guides to the next Jamboree, which is being held in 2015 in Japan. Jamborees are a brilliant way for young people to experience different cultures and meet people from a diverse range of backgrounds. It is a great start to their lives.
It is highly competitive to be selected to attend a Jamboree and it’s a real privilege to be chosen to go. Scouts and Guides who are chosen to attend have to raise the money themselves to cover the cost, which can be over £3,000. But it’s always a great shame if a Scout or Guide is selected to attend but can’t raise the necessary funds, because of difficult personal circumstances.
The Hardship fund
The money that I raised through my 200-plus sponsors was put towards a special Hardship Fund, which has been set up by the UK Scouting Association, and is used to provide modest bursaries to Scouts and Guides who would like to attend the Jamboree, but because of difficult personal circumstances, are unable to afford it. Because the Jamboree is in Japan in 2015, this trip is particularly expensive. The bursaries have to be at least matched by the Scout or Guide’s own fundraising efforts.
In keeping with the general theme of this walk, I did most of my fundraising electronically. I opened up a “JustGiving” web-page where potential sponsors could go on-line and donate. It was easy to set up, convenient and a good way of reaching a lot of people.
You can visit my JustGiving site by clicking this link – although it is no longer accepting new sponsorship.
In return for sponsoring me, I sent an automated email response from my JustGiving account, which included the PIN and user ID for my “Buddy Beacon” site. That way, my sponsors would be able to track me in real-time. I also added my sponsors to my e-mail distribution list, so I could send them a weekly email describing my progress (to see the weekly updates, click here). I wanted to make sure that my sponsors thought they were getting something back, in return for the money they pledged.
Before I set off, friends at the excellent Hill House B&B organised a fundraising evening for me, which brought in nearly £1,000 in extra sponsorship. A great, and very welcome, achievement.
And while I was away, our local Scout Group (Second Amersham Common) ran a jumble sale and donated half the proceeds to my appeal. Fantastic!
Then, along the way, I met complete strangers who were interested in what I was doing and who dipped into their pockets to sponsor me. They are too numerous to mention individually, though probably the people of Warrington should take the prize for generosity. As I walked through the town, more than once I was stopped and asked what I was doing, and given sponsorship money. And at the petrol station where I stopped to get a sandwich, the staff did a whip round for me of their colleagues and everyone who was in the petrol station at the time, and raised in the space of about 5 minutes, another substantial donation to my cause.
Finally, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to my corporate sponsors, who made the whole exercise more affordable:
ViewRanger, who gave me electronic maps
Fox’s of Amersham, who provided me with a sleeping bag and rucksack
Travel Places who bought me my stove
Nathan Ruttley and iPrestwood, who set up my website
Meeting Scouts along the way
I’d liaised with the Scout Association before I set off, and they proved too be extremely effective at promoting my walk. They wrote about me on their website, and Tweeted almost daily about my adventures. And most importantly, they arranged for Scouts who were involved in the 2015 Jamboree to meet me along the way. So I was accompanied by a Sea Scout from Somerset as I walked across the Severn Bridge, and then by representatives of the particularly active “GoldDiggers” Jamboree unit twice in North Wales.
As I passed through Cheshire, I met a former Scout who told me he’d just been selected to join the British Antarctic Survey. He explained that he’d been selected partly because, based on his Scouting experience, in his interview he’d said that he’d have no problem in knocking up a meal for 80 hungry explorers if called on in an emergency! Right now (2015), he’s in Antarctica where he is one of the youngest people ever to over-winter at the Halley base. A fine testament to Scouting, I thought.
Then in Cumbria, the Scouts went out of their way to be helpful, and I met up with groups on four occasions. In Ambleside, I was joined by the inspirational Steven Judge – a world para-triathlete champion and Scouts’ media relations expert.
And then rather than having to make the strenuous hike up Scafell Pike on my own, I was joined by a Cumbria Scout Group leader, who was great company and helped ensure I didn’t die of exposure in the freezing rain! And then the next day I was joined by two more Scout leader – both going to Japan – who accompanied me for the lonely hike round the back of Skiddaw. And finally, for the walk down the river Caldew into Carlisle, I was joined by another Scout, who was going to Japan in 2015.
All in all, meeting these enthusiastic and motivated young people was a great boost – it made me feel that my efforts were appreciated, and that the funds I raised would be put to a really tangible good use.
What was the outcome?
I was delighted that, thanks to the generosity of my fantastic 200-plus sponsors, I raised a total of £9,289.95 – more than three times my original target. And, through the “Gift Aid” mechanism, there was a further £1,840.45 to add on top of that.
In December 2014, I went into London to meet the Scouts’ Contingent Management Team – the people who are organising UK Scouts’ attendance at the Jamboree event. Together, we went through the applications to the Hardship fund and selected a number of cases of young people who were in particular difficulty and who were deserving of an extra award, on top of the money they were receiving from the Scouts’ main hardship fund.
The cases we saw were particularly sobering. There were young people who had been taken into care, or whose parents had died, or who were battling illness. All of whom were dealing with problems that I and my family have been lucky enough not to suffer. I was delighted that I was able to do something really positive to help them, something that will give them an experience of a lifetime, and really open up a whole new world of opportunity for them.
In the end, I selected 24 Scouts to receive grants from my fund, each of between £200 and £700. There were an equal number of boy and girl-scouts, and they came from England, Wales and Scotland. There were no applications from Northern Ireland so I made a single donation to Northern Ireland Scouting, be used at local discretion.
Further, with the Gift Aid money, I decided to allocate this to the Scouts’ Solidarity fund. The Solidarity fund is an international fund used to help Scouts from some of the poorest countries in the world go to the Jamboree. The money will be allocated by UK Scouts to help get essential kit and clothes for these overseas attendees, which they would not otherwise be able to afford.
Making the awards in December 2014 represented “closure” for the walk – a great outcome, and knowing that 24 young people would directly benefit from my efforts, made it all seem worthwhile