Be Prepared – The Story of Scouting and Guiding

 Be Prepared – The Story of Scouting Museum Trust

(Registered Charity Number  1070181)

On 24th June 1998 the Trust was registered by the Charity Commission to advance the education of the public in the history of the Scout Movement.  The Founder Trustees were Keith Fenton, Samuel Lee, Michael Loomes, Ron Loomes, Celia Nuttall, Colin Ovenden and David Thornton.  They took over responsibility for the Baden-Powell and Scout History Collection which had been established by Michael Loomes in 1957 after he had visited the 9th World Jamboree.

The first public exhibition of the Collection was held in 1958. There were many more small events until 1967, when a major exhibition, attended by well over a thousand people, was held at Greystone Heath, Liverpool’s Approved School. This event resulted in an evening with Olave, Lady Baden-Powell at Hampton Court Palace with some of the Greystone Heath Scouts.  After this, Michael determined to use his available resources to build a premier collection to serve the North West of England.  The Collection was inspired by Olave, Lady B-P and was dedicated to her and the Founder, Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell.

The immediate aim was a mobile museum which could be quickly set up at any venue, for any size of exhibition or to support an illustrated talk.  The major sections of the Collection deal with B-P, Lady B-P, the Siege of Mafeking, the Brownsea Island Camp, the early days of Scouting and World Jamborees.  The most valuable items are original material relating to the Siege of Mafeking and original B-P sketches, mainly from his books, including one of the missing sketches from the manuscript of Scouting for Boys.  There are awards, badges, books, letters, newspapers, postcards, and souvenirs from every World Jamboree.

Many people have generously donated items to the Collection most notable being Olave,  Lady Baden-Powell.  Other donors include Astronaut Neil Armstrong (The first man to walk on the moon),  Patricia Butterworth, Hon Betty Clay CBE (B-P’s daughter), Harald Dahl, Bill Fazackerley,   the Cartoonist Carl GILES, Jeanne Hudak, Lesley Knight, John & Vera Loomes, Ron & Vera Loomes, Celia Nuttall, The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, 13th/18th Royal Hussars, Moira Walker and Dr John Frederick Wilkinson.  Invaluable help was provided by the former Headquarters Archivists, Graham Coombe and then Paul Moynihan.  The present Headquarters Archives and Heritage Manager, Daniel Scott-Davies has been most supportive.

The mobile museum is mainly mounted on over 140 acetate-covered Display Boards which are 36″ high and 24″ wide.  These stand on tables etc and clip together to provide a versatile display.  Other items are displayed in 16 glass-topped display cases. There are life-size, two dimensional figures wearing various Scout and Guide uniforms.

Exhibitions have been held throughout the North West of England and much further afield.    By 24th June 1998 over 320 exhibitions and illustrated talks had been given.  Part of the Collection has been exhibited in Sweden and the U.S.A.  No charges or expenses have ever been made. Security is a priority and so the Collection, which is stored in various places, is never loaned or left unattended at exhibitions.

Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, World Chief Guide visited the Collection at Gilwell Park in 1971.  Her grandson, Lord Baden-Powell has visited twice. Her daughter, the Hon Betty Clay CBE, has visited on four occasions. Lord Maclean was the first Chief Scout to visit. Since then four of his successors have seen parts of the Collection at least once.

In 2000 the Trust achieved its object of a Scout Museum at Waddecar Scout Activity Centre   in Lancashire. It was funded by Michael Loomes with the help of a legacy left to him by his friend Dr John Frederick Wilkinson. This is the first purpose-built Scout Museum in the Country. It provides over 130 square metres of display and storage space.  There are over 2,000 books and publications in the Library including all the known reference works.

Be Prepared – The Story of Scouting is an attractive, additional facility for campers and day visitors.  The building is open on Saturdays (Excluding Christmas Day) from 10am to 4pm and at other times by arrangement.

The building was designed by Roy Fisher MBE BArch JP DL FRIBA FRTPI and built by Richard Palmer (Building) of Preston.  The display cabinets were made by M and P Gildert of Penwortham.  Known as the Little Gem it was officially opened by the Chief Scout George Purdy CBE on 21st July 2001.

Trustee Colin Ovenden was awarded the M.B.E. in 2002 for services to the community of Preston.  A development by Colin that year was the establishment of The Friends of Be Prepared – The Story of Scouting.

On 6th April 2003 Lieut Colonel Michael Glover of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment unveiled a bronze memorial in memory of Stanley Boughey V.C., 1st Blackpool Scout Troop and all other former Scouts who gave their lives for their Country.

The Trust lost its esteemed Founder Chairman Sammy Lee on 9th October 2003.  Following his untimely death the Trustees welcomed Audrey Forster MBE as a Trustee.  With the sad death of Celia Nuttall on 6th January 2006 the Trustees invited Elizabeth Rothwell to become a Trustee.

On 8th July 2006 our splendid Honorary Architect, Roy Fisher MBE, officially opened the new John F Wilkinson Wing which presents the story of Guiding.  Having contributed 25% of the cost of our first building, the rest of the legacy he left Michael Loomes met all the costs of the new building and so the Trustees decided to name it in his honour.  Wilkie was a most generous friend and splendid Scout.  They invited Roy to officially open the Annexe to acknowledge his wonderful work  as Architect of both the original building and the new.  He has most generously given of his time    and expertise for this project and many more throughout the Region for Scouts and Guides without making any charge for his professional skills or expenses.  The Annexe incorporates the Guide Storeroom named Patricia’s Store to acknowledge the large archive donated by Patricia Butterworth, the World Chief Guide’s Tame Artist and friend, to the Trust.

The invited guests, headed by Wendy Graham, Chief Commissioner Girlguiding UK representing the Chief Guide, and many others witnessed what Roy has achieved together with the builders, Palmer Building (North West) Ltd continuing their high standards and quality of work.

The excellent display cabinets were again by M & P Gildert of Penwortham.

The Friends of Be Prepared – The Story of Guiding  was introduced in 2010.

An Additional Storage Facility was added to the rear of the building in 2011.  It was funded    by Patricia Butterworth’s legacy to the Trust following her death on 30th December 2007.

Writing about the Collection in 1969 Olave, Lady Baden-Powell said it “is of such importance for the present day Scouts and Guides to learn from so that they may the more fully understand and realise what a marvellous thing they are members of, and appreciate its romantic birth and growth and progress.” (Extract from a letter written to Michael on 13th April, 1969.)

You can visit the Little Gem on www.storyofscouting.org.uk and on www.scoutsrecords.org