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Inspirational Scout leader given BEM

A Scout leader who joined his group 58 years ago and who has been described as an “unstoppable force helping children to become upstanding young adults”, has been named in the King’s first birthday honours list.

Frank Meakin, of 59th Newchapel Scouts, was awarded a BEM (British Empire Medal) for services to young people.

He joined the group at the age of 13 and became a Scout leader when he was 18.

The nomination for the honour said that Mr Meakin, (71), had “selflessly sacrificed his time and energy for over 50 years to help young people find their potential”.

Mr Meakin told the Chronicle it was “a great privilege” to receive the honour and that he “didn’t expect anything like this”. “It’s such a good thing for Scouting and all the voluntary youth organisations. It’s been an honour to be recognised like this,” he said.

Not even Mr Meakin was sure who had put his name forward to the Cabinet Office for recognition. His citation added that, “what makes him different from other Scout leaders is that apart from delivering the sound principles of Scouting, he has always gone the extra mile to give his Scouts added strong social values and strength to take on the responsibilities of an adult”.

At one time there were only a handful of Scouts in the 59th Newchapel Scouts and closure looked likely but thanks to Mr Meakin it continues to be successful, with a roll of more than 30 Scouts.

Mr Meakin has regularly organised trips away for adventure activities such as camping, hiking in remote areas, canoeing, orienteering, sailing, rock climbing, and Backwoods weeks, where the Scouts spend a few days and nights in the wild with just a tarpaulin, knife, sleeping bag, tin mug and basic food supplies.

“They must forage for apples, blackberries, and maybe try to catch a rabbit; fortunately, he always has a pre-purchased one to share,” his nomination explained.

‘Absolute pleasure’

Mr Meakin, who has just spent a week with the Scouts camping in the Forest of Bowland, said he has always remembered what he was taught as a young Scout and passed it on to others. “I had two very good Scout leaders when I started. All I’ve tried to do is keep on going with what they taught me and it’s been an absolute pleasure to see Scouts growing up and then seeing their children becoming Scouts here as well.”

He also organises fundraising activities such as cutting down trees and then selling the wood or doing odd jobs for his friends. The money earned goes towards camping and rock climbing equipment, and materials so that the Scouts can make canoes.

The nomination said: “He has been doing the above for over 50 years and still is an unstoppable force, helping children to become upstanding young adults.”

The Scout group, based at the Scout Hall on Rainford Close, Packmoor, said it was “thrilled” with Mr Meakin’s award.

A post on its website said: “Frank’s lifelong commitment to Scouting has left an indelible mark on our community. For many decades, he has selflessly invested countless hours in nurturing the development and well-being of our Scouts, providing them with opportunities for personal growth and leadership.

“His passion for the outdoors has inspired and influenced our Scouts in profound ways. Frank’s dedication to Scouting serves as an inspiration to all who have had the privilege of working with him.”

It added: “We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Frank on this well-deserved honour. His impact on the lives of our Scouts will continue to inspire generations to come.”

(Photo: 59th Newchapel Scouts).

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