Ewell scout group fear they may have to close. They need more members.
2nd April 2012
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A scout troop fears it may be forced to close unless it can attract more members.

The 1st West Ewell Scout Group, based behind Ruxley Church in Ruxley Lane has just 11 scouts, compared to 40 a decade ago.

Money is raised through members' subscriptions of £110 a year and it is worried it may soon not be able to afford to run activities or pay the day-to-day costs of its headquarters.

Activities enjoyed by the scouts include canoeing, horse-riding, hiking and a summer camp.

Scout Leader Keith Farris, 56, of Meadowview Road, said the troop is struggling to make ends meet.

In an interview with Hardeep Matharu –

Mr Farris said: "We are barely breaking even and are desperate not to raise subscription rates as this would be unfair to parents, but we have to raise more money. If we don't, we may have to close which is not something I want to think about. The troop is like a part of me now and I want the community to know it is here and as active as any other scout troop in the locality."

Children aged six to eight can join the troop as beavers and progress through to cubs when aged eight to 10-and-a-half. From the age of 10 to 14-and-a-half they can be scouts.

Mr Farris said the cubs and beavers currently in the troop will not be old enough to join the scouts for another two years.

He blames the decline on numbers on the decision to reduce the upper age for scouts from 15 to 14-and-a-half and said the group's location means many people do not know that it exists.

He added: "It's always harder to attract older children who haven't been beavers or cubs, but I hope we do, as at scouts they can build friendships for life. A group of men who met in a troop I ran 30 years ago still get together once a month because there is something about being in this type of environment which builds something which is there forever."

Liz Knee, 48, of Fulford Road, whose 14-year-old daughter is a scout and cub helper at the troop, said: "Madeleine has picked up a huge number of practical, life skills which I couldn't teach her and has the opportunity to mix with other children from different schools. She would be really sad if the group had to close."

The 1st West Ewell Scout Group meets at its headquarters every Friday between 7.20pm and 9pm. Children can participate in free scout sessions for a month to see if they want to subscribe.

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