£26,000 Scout HQ at Calmore

On Saturday afternoon an impressive new scout headquarters, costing more than £26,000, was formally opened on the Calmore estate – and for many parents on the executive who had carried out much of the interior work, the official opening by Hampshire Scout Commissioner Mr. John Derben marked the culmination of years of hard work.

The 23rd Romsey (Testwood) Scout Group was formed in 1962, and as their ranks grew, it was soon found that their small hut, which was also used by the local Girl Guides, was bursting at the seams. By 1966, around 100 boys and girls were using the hut, so the 20 parents on the executive set their sights on a new headuqrtaers.

They applied for grant aid, and raised funds by holding such events as beetle drives, bingo and dances, and more money came in from such schemes as collecting waste paper. Some £500 had to be spent on the old building, and there were many disappointments before, in 1976, approval for their grant applications “came out of the blue” recalls Mr. Roy Limbrick of Cadnam who, as secretary of the group executive, has been an unofficial “shop steward” on the project.

The parents, scouts and guides were elated at the news. Of the £18,000 grant aid, half came from the Department of Education, and £6,000 from the New Forest District Council and Totton and Eling Town Council. Land on the Calmore estate, previously earmarked for a church, was leased to the scouts for a peppercorn rent – but there was a further setback when planners stipulated that the new headquarters should have a asymmetrical roof, so as to be in keeping with surrounding buildings – which promptly pushed up the price from £24,000 to £31,000!

Undaunted, the parents decided to have the outside shell built professionally, then complete the interior work themselves. Representing a host of different professions, Mr. Limbrick and his gang of forty mums and dads have spent countless hours undertaking the plumbing, carpentry, installing the electrics, painting and laying the floor tiles which were generously donated by a Coventry firm.

The parents, with Stan Bundy as chairman and Bill Biss as treasurer, had raised £8,000 towards the venture during the previous ten years – yet the cost of the steelwork alone, to carry that lofty roof, came to £10,000. After seven months toil, the 70ft. by 50ft. building standing in 1.25 acres was at last completed… though by now several of the parents’ sons and daughters had grown up and left the scouts and guides.

Yet it has all proved well worthwhile. Around 200 children now use the headquarters each night of the week except Thursdays, retained for the bingo sessions which have proved the mainstay of fundraising over the years. Group Scout Leader is Peter Down, while Ray Morris runs the Garland troop and Gordon Brakewell the Panther troop, Mrs. Wendy Parsons is in charge of the Beagles cub pack and Derek Stevens the Bulldogs; Mrs. Kes Thomas is the Guide Leader and Mrs. Di Brooks the Brownie Leader. There is also a mixed Venture Unit.

On Saturday the proud parents were able to show off the new headquarters, which they rate amongst the best in Hampshire, to the 200 adults and 100 children attending the opening ceremony. Besides a 50 ft. by 30ft, main hall, the building includes a fitted kitchen, a store which can be converted into a bar, offices and toilets – all complete with gas-fired hot-air heating. A copperwork picture, to be mounted in the H.Q. was presented by Miss M. Dixon, Guide Divisional Commissioner, from the group executive, to the 2nd Testwood Guide Company – who had also assisted in the fund raising activities – in memory of their Company Leader Mrs. Jill Bush, who died earlier this year whilst still in office.

The opening also provided an opportune time for the Scouts’ County Commissioner to present a medal of merit to Mr. Limbrick, whilst G.S.L. Peter Down handed “thanks” badges to Mr. Bundy, the group executive’s chairman, Bert Barter, their “clerk of works” for the H.Q., Bob Wallace, “paint team leader,” and Dave Bush, “carpentry team leader.”

Seeing twelve years’ labour bear fruition, Mr. Limbrick, a rent officer at Lymington, told the “A. and T.” on Saturday “It has all been so worthwhile, despite all the hard work. The project has fostered a beautiful sort of community spirit amongst the parents, who have been working here evening after evening laughing and joking together.”

The cutting shown on the right and the above text was originally published in the Lymington Times on the 28 October 1978. This text remains the Copyright of the Lymington Times.