Sutton Coldfield Scouts Earn Top Award In Birmingham County
12th March 2019
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Five  Scouts from Sutton Coldfield have been presented with the highest Scouting award it`s possible to earn under 14 years of age. 

James Newbold-Comyns and Grace Henery, both from 5th Sutton Coldfield Scouts and Eleanor Richardson, from 16th Sutton Coldfield Scouts, were presented with the Chief Scout Gold Award on Sunday 10th March at Blackwell Adventure Centre by David Bradnock, HM Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands and President of Birmingham Scout County, Amelia Connolly, Assistant County Commissioner for Scouts and Andrew Lloyd, Birmingham Scout County Commissioner.  


Two other young people  from the 16th Sutton Coldfield Scouts, namely Carla Popon and Matthew Nicholls, also gained their Chief Scout Gold Award.  Both Carla and Matthew  have now moved up to an Explorer Scout Unit.   

"The Chief Scout Gold Award doesn`t come easy", explained Andrew Lloyd, County Commissioner at the presentations "and takes a lot of hard work.  Well done to you all.  It`s a tremendous effort.  You`ve gained the highest award a Scout can earn under 14 years of age".  

The awards were preceded with an afternoon of adventurous activities at Blackwell Adventure Centre near Bromsgrove for the Scouts as a reward for their hard work with a choice of over 20 activities including archery, tree climbing, abseiling, grass sleds and zip wire.  Scouts and their families from all over Birmingham Scout County descended on Blackwell Adventure Centre for the award presentations. 

     "I am really pleased for the 3 Scouts that achieved the Chief Scout Gold Award from my Troop", said Martin Richardson, Scout Leader at 16th Sutton Coldfield Scouts.  "They all worked really hard, this award is not easy to get and takes sustained effort over 2 to 3 years to obtain.  I really notice how mature the Scouts become by the time they achieve the award and appreciate how much they put back into the troop with their maturity.  The award puts them in a great position for the future. 

The outdoor skills gained in completing their Chief Scout Gold Award places them ahead of their peers when completing future awards, for example, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme as well as the higher Scouting awards in Explorers.  What has been really good is the number of Scouts from the Troop this year that have gone on to Explorers.  It shows that Scouting is thriving in Sutton Coldfield and that the members are enjoying their Scouting experience".     

The only Chief Scout Platinum Award given out by the HM Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands and County Commissioner on 10th March went to Eleanor`s brother, Matthew Richardson, who also started out at 16th Sutton Coldfield Scouts.  Matthew is also now in an Explorer Scout Unit like Carla Popon and Matthew Nicholls.   

  "Getting these awards makes a real improvement to young people`s employment prospects" explained David Bradnock MBE, DL, JP, FBHI and HM Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands.  "It says that they are prepared to work hard, be a team player and use their own initiative. Birmingham Scout County is preparing young people with skills for life.

   These young people have a great start in life.  Their certificates are signed by the County Commissioner which tells me they are authentic documents.  I hope these Scouts will keep these certificates safe. 

They mark the progress the young people have made in life.  Nobody gets anything for nothing.  These young people have worked hard.  I present these certificates to Eleanor, James and Grace with my congratulations".    

The Scout Association County of Birmingham is a modern, forward looking, co-educational youth movement working with over 5,000 young people throughout Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield from many faiths and backgrounds.  The organisation is led by the County Commissioner, Andrew Lloyd and a County Team of specialist advisers.  Scouting is a worldwide educational movement for young people which, around the world, has over 28 million members operating in 216 countries.    

"The Chief Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Scout can achieve" explained Alco Jensema, Scout Leader at 5th Sutton Coldfield Scouts.  "It is a difficult badge to earn and a Scout must complete a number of challenges including learning about the world, teamwork, community service and adventure.   Four Scouts from our Troop have now achieved this award in the year and they have all shown great resilience, commitment and determination.  Our 4 Scouts should all be rightfully proud of what they have accomplished".

According to Alco, to complete the Chief Scout Gold Award each Scout must complete 9 challenge awards: the world challenge, skills  challenge, creative challenge, outdoors challenge, adventure challenge, expedition challenge, teamwork challenge, team leader challenge and personal challenge. 

The Scouts also have to do a minimum of 6 activity badges as well.  Amongst the badges James, Eleanor  and Grace completed were the international and communications badge, which they did on the Jamboree on the Air and Jamboree on the Internet last year, where they linked up with fellow Scouts from over 40 countries around the world.  Other badges include first aid and navigation, the pioneer badge, master at arms badge and cooking.   “As Scouts", said Alco "and just like the Chief Scout Award, Scouting is made up of many elements and we work as part of a team, encounter new personal challenges, learn new skills, face the world and experience new cultures and traditions across the world".   Alco Jensema firmly believed that Scouting is a powerful force in shaping young people and empowering them to identify and realise their ambitions. 

"Through an expedition", he said, "fears are conquered, friendships are strengthened, new relationships are built, unforgettable stories are written and confidence soars!  What is there not to like about Scouting?"   James and Grace both  previously earned the Bronze and Silver Chief Scout Awards when they were in Beavers and Cubs respectively within the Scout Association. 

 With Eleanor, they have attended many camps and all took part in the Jurassic International Jamboree in Dorset last year where they met other Scouts from all over the world in a week-long camp on the Jurassic Coast that included going  to Brownsea Island and the birth-place of Scouting and Guiding.      

 "When I started at Scouts at the age of 10", said Grace "getting all of these badges seemed an impossible thing to do.  What I found out was that by being part of 5th Sutton Coldfield and doing all of the fun activities and camps it was easier than I thought.  I have had a lot of fun being a Scout and made many new friends.  One of my best memories is learning knots for the Joint District Scout Raft Race last year on Powells Pool in Sutton Park with James and Eleanor.  The 5th Sutton Coldfield won two trophies!"   James, who attended the Birmingham Scout County Bivouac Survival Skills Activity weekend last year, believes that it is easy to earn the Chief Scout Gold Award if you just remain focused.  "Bivouac is unique to Birmingham Scout County", he said "and develops survival skills.  We had to make our own camp without tents or cover in a forest.  We only had the equipment in our rucksacks and the countryside around us.  How would we survive?  There were no flushing toilets, no electricity, no lights, no mobile phones and no Google.  It was just us, as Scouts, with our training, a survival tin, rucksacks, sleeping bags and 1500 acres of forest."  

James, Eleanor and Grace joined other Scouts on a weekend expedition at Moira Furnace in the National Forest.  The expedition challenge requires the Scouts to plan and walk a 10km hike on each day.  The Scouts plan their route, food, cook it and then clear up after themselves.  The Scout Leaders do check in during the expedition at defined check posts and the overnight camp location.  The Scouts then set off, rucksacks on their backs and explored the National Forest in north Leicestershire, south Derbyshire and southern Staffordshire.  They hiked through wild flower meadows, through little villages and along canals in a transformed landscape that used to exhausted coalfields and now planted with oak, poplar, ash and pine trees.  The Scouts camped in the heart of the National Forest and sang songs as the sun went down after pitching their tents and dining shelter, setting up the kitchen and organising patrol duties.  They completed the expedition the following day at Moira Furnace.  

  "I really enjoyed it", explained Eleanor, whose elder sister and brother have also earned their Chief Scouts Gold Award.  "One of my best memories of my time in Scouting was that expedition challenge.  I will always remember linking arms with James and Grace, skipping down country lanes with rucksacks on our backs and singing "We are off to see the Wizzard, the wonderful Wizzard of Oz!"  

  "Well done to all of the Scouts from 5th Sutton Coldfield who have earned the Chief Scout Gold Award" said Alco.  "They have worked hard and shown a real commitment to achieve success."

 Note: Sutton Coldfield Scouts are recruiting.  Flexible opportunities available.  If you are interested in becoming an adult volunteer please email Ian Henery, Assistant District Commissioner for Development at or go to

About the Author

Ian Henery

Member since: 4th February 2019

Managing Director of an award winning law firm
Ian Henery Solicitors Ltd

Award winning poet and playwright

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