3rd Tynemouth

(Ritsons Own) Scout Group

Billy Mill Lane, North Shields, NE29 8LP

John Adrian Nichol

John was a Cub and a Scout in the 1960’s. He was in the Group for about 8 years until he left to join the RAF.

In 1991 whilst serving as a Tornado navigator he was shot down on the first low-level, daylight raid of the first Gulf War. Captured and tortured, he was paraded on television provoking worldwide condemnation and leaving one of the enduring images of the conflict. He is now a well known author and TV presenter.

These are his memories of our group:

Scouting runs in the Nichol family and I think it’s fair to say it had a huge influence on my life.

I remember my first Cub camp back in the sixties - it was tipping down with rain and we were all soaked to the skin.  We were having tinned peaches and evaporated milk (or cream, as we called it then!) and it was raining so heavily, the peaches were floating out of the tin plates.  But there wasn’t a single murmur of complaint – everyone just got on with it.  It was a great lesson for life.

Moving from Cubs to Scouts and the 3rd Tynemouth, Ritson’s Own, was a huge leap but the troop became the centre of my social life from the age of eleven until I left home to join the Royal Air Force aged seventeen.

Barney Carr was the Scout Leader at the time and he was a huge influence on all of the youngsters in his care.  Friday nights were a mixture of fun (bordering on near riots at times) with a healthy dose of discipline and learning.  British Bulldog, Dodge Ball, Kim’s Game, map-reading, back-woodsmanship were all part of the mix.  The learning process was often helped along courtesy of Barney’s boot!

And fish and chips of course – whenever we won one of the many inter-troop many football or swimming competitions it was tradition that we all had fish & chips from the local shop.

Camping was a huge part of the experience – we were all regulars at the likes of Gosforth Park, Jedburgh, Powburn and Bedale.  The week-long summer camp was the highlight of the year.  Forty scouts in an open field, aerial runways, building dams, carrying axes and knives – a  hugely enjoyable, and character building experience.  I remember myself and Martin Jameson hiking out from a summer camp as part of our Scout Standard – we had to navigate a route and camp in the open overnight.  We must have been about twelve years old, pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere and building a fire to cook over.  I suspect the Health and Safety brigade might have something to say about it these days!

I seem to remember my patrol (was it the Kestrals?) winning a cooking competition one year.  Dudley Rogers (another great influence on us all) was leader by then and we treated him to savoury mince and rice, followed by jelly and fruit.  I dread to think what the other entries were like!

I also remember nearly killing Barney (by then he was the GSL) when we built the extension to the hut.  We were taking down a huge partition wall and he nipped around the back to see how it was looking.  I decided to give it a shove and the whole thing came down at once missing him by a matter of inches.

I can safely say that my years in scouting represented some of the best times of my young life – it helped me become the person I am today, because the skills and qualities instilled in us all by the likes of Barney, Fenwick Curry, Dudley and the other leaders stayed with me for life.

And I’m still a dab hand at cooking!

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