Scout leader Dick’s right Royal honour

Scout leader Dick Short
Scout leader Dick Short

A veteran Scout leader from Dunstable will be one of a select few chosen to meet royalty at a St George’s celebration parade and service after receiving a top Scouting award.

Dick Short learned in February that Chief Scout Bear Grylls had awarded him a bar to his Silver Acorn, one of Scouting’s highest honours, for continuing distinguished service to the movement.

The accolade grants him and his wife exclusive access to the prestigious St George’s celebration at Windsor Castle on Sunday, April 27 where 300 Queen Scouts will parade.

At home in Friars Walk, Dick said: “It was totally unexpected and an honour not just for me but the other leaders in the district.”

He started his Scouting career in 1962 at the age of eight as a Cub Scout with the 3rd Dunstable Scout Group. Later he became an assistant Scout leader and met his future wife Gill when she joined the group as a Cub Scout leader.

She admits with a grin that she chose her future husband after he was the only one to give her a lift home after a meeting. The pair married in 1982 in Dunstable Priory Church complete with a Scout guard of honour and a massive audience of hundreds of smiling well-wishers.

Now, just months from his 60th birthday, Dick can look back on a packed career. Apart from time spent as a trainer and training adviser, he was District Commissioner for seven years until January 2010 and took the district through the centenary celebrations in 2007.

He also masterminded an attempt to win the Guinness World Record with over 13,000 candles on a centenary birthday cake, but was beaten into second place by an American team.

He now runs the 1st/3rd Houghton Regis Scout Group with more than 60 young people and 10 adult volunteers.

Dick, a design engineer, has seen numerous changes in his 50-year Scouting career, from the introduction of Beaver Scouts and the decision to admit girls to welcome programme changes.

He reckons the Scouts give you self confidence and self reliance which help you to take on responsibility and leadership at work.

He said: “I like to see the smile on a young Cub’s face when he completes something he thought was impossible such as abseiling down a 30ft wall.”

At the end of April he will return to his Scout group with more stories for his Beavers and Cubs.

His kit for his first meeting will include local OS maps, two new Beaver Certificates, a ball of twine, a woggle and a first aid booklet. And just for good measure he will add in his brightly polished Silver Acorn.