Londonderry scout troop on march again after 44-year absence

The Rector of St Augustines Church, Rev Malcolm Ferry, holds the flag of First Londonderry Scout Troop, which was based at the wee church on the walls until 1972
The Rector of St Augustines Church, Rev Malcolm Ferry, holds the flag of First Londonderry Scout Troop, which was based at the wee church on the walls until 1972

Scouting is returning to the centre of Londonderry after an absence of more than 40 years.

Around 30 boys and girls were expected to attend the first formal meeting of the new St Augustine’s Cub pack in the church hall in Palace Street, inside the city walls, on Tuesday night.

St Augustine’s – known as ‘the wee church on the walls’ – was formerly home to First Londonderry Scout Troop, which was forced to stop operating in the city in 1972 due to the Troubles.

But the Rector of St Augustine’s, Rev Malcolm Ferry, said the church is delighted to be hosting Scouts again.

“We have been amazed by the enthusiasm for our new Cub pack,” he said.

“We already have four volunteer leaders who will oversee the new group of 30, and we’re eager to gain even more recruits – boys and girls – from the whole community.”

Joan Reid, of Scouts NI, said: “We are delighted and excited to be breathing new life and energy into Scouting in St Augustine’s, especially in this year when Cub Scouts celebrate their 100th birthday.

“This is a super opportunity for young people aged 8½ to 10½ to join in fun and challenging activities, unique experiences, everyday adventure and have the chance to help others, so that we make a positive impact in the city.”

Rev Ferry said there are also plans to form a Beaver pack in the near future, for six to eight-year-olds, and hopefully a Scout troop for older children.

“I’m a Boys’ Brigade ‘old boy’, myself,” he added. “But I appreciate the huge opportunity that Scouting presents and the enormous benefits it can bring to young people in our community nowadays.”

Among those due to be present at Tuesday night’s meeting were Rev Canon John McKegney, a former member of the First Londonderry Scout Troop, whose father was a former Scout leader in St Augustine’s.

A formal investiture ceremony for members of the new Cub pack is planned for St Augustine’s in about one month’s time.