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The new District Commissioner for Kincardineshire is Janine Sydenham.

We are delighted to let you know that our new District Commissioner for Kincardineshire is Janine Sydenham.
Janine has a wealth of experience in both voluntary and professional settings having a background in both Scouting and Girlguiding. Janine is a Human Resources and Project Management Professional outside of Scouting for a reputable company, making her an excellent appointment to drive forward Kincardineshire and give more young people the #SkillsForLife.
Janine is a passionate volunteer and outdoors person enjoying her time with the local coastal rowing crew, using her paddleboard and scuba diving with the British Sub Aqua Club.
Janine said on her new appointment: "After seeing my daughter enjoy Cubs for several years, I knew I wanted to give something back. I am an active "outdoors person" and camping nut, I am happiest away camping and being active, whether it's with our coastal rowing crew, wobbling on my stand up paddleboard or off scuba diving with the British Sub Aqua Club. I'm passionate on allowing young people to experience the outdoors in a safe environment and keen to enable leaders to deliver exciting programmes to their young people, equipping them with #skillsforlife whilst having a huge amount of fun, creating memories and lifelong friends, too. Volunteering enables me to pass on my skills, knowledge and experience to others.  As an HR and project management professional, there's loads I want to bring to the DC role, but also, volunteering is an excellent way to feel good about yourself.  Scouts are supportive - there is an excellent team backing you all the way, and I have learnt so much from fellow Scouters in the last 4 years.  I have had excellent training and support, and there is always someone to talk to if you want help or support. It really is #GoodForYou."
Regional Commissioner Dougie Simmers commented: "District Commissioners are the cornerstone for all Scouting with a District, they oversee the complete management of Scouting from the program of our youth members to all the background functions of a district to ensuring our more local operational effectiveness, this makes it one of the most crucial roles in our organisations. Janine brings in new skills and has fresh ideas as a seasoned Human Resources and Project Management Professional with a reputable company, on how Kincardineshire Scouts will develop and grow as we come out of the pandemic restrictions and most importantly ensuring that we continue to deliver the #SkillsForLife to as many young people in the area of Kincardineshire as possible. I am very excited to be able to announce Janine taking on this role and joining my team of District Commissioners, who do so much for the youth in the North East of Scotland."
Looking forward, Janine cannot wait to get all around the District (as per restrictions), meet volunteers and young people, listen to your feedback on where you would like the district to go and plan for a great future for the district. 
Please add your congratulations to the social media posts and if you are ready for a bigger role with the district team, now is a fantastic time to step forward and drive forward Kincardineshire's success.
To contact Janine please contact her on


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Blog | ReQuest 2021 - Adventure of a Lifetime
22/09/2021 By Aaron Wappler
A team of ten Scouts officially launched their Antarctic Research Project – ReQuest2021 – in London on board the 100-year-old Thames barge called the Lady Daphne. Sam Payne, one of the expedition participants is from Inverurie, Aberdeenshire and will be representing Scotland as one of the two original Scottish Scouts who sailed with Shackleton on the original Shackleton-Rowlett ‘Quest’ expedition. Sam will be following in the footsteps of James Marr, also a Scout from the North East, who assisted Ernest Shackleton on his trip to the South Pole, 100 years ago.
The Lady Daphne was part of a flotilla of half-a-dozen Scout boats that made their way from Greenwich and then under Tower Bridge – which opened its famous bridge spans – into the Pool of London to mark the launch of the Scout’s ReQuest2021, Antarctica Project.
The team of Scouts on board Lady Daphne were hand-picked for their personal research projects on topics spanning climate change, the arts and science.
One experiment the team will undertake is to study the Krill population of the region which is a basic component of the Antarctic food chain. To do this the team has using the same style of Nansen Nets as originally used by Marr in his the experiments conducted 100 years ago. The data collected in 2021 will be compared to the data collected in 1921 and real time information will be gained on the health of the Antarctic waters.
Launching ReQuest2021 the Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton, said:
“I am enormously impressed by the attitude, dedication and attention to detail that these ten members of Scouting have shown. It will be a truly life-changing experience for each and every one of them. I am very much looking forward to learning more about their individual projects and how we can work together to educate more people around the world about the need to protect our fragile polar ecosystem.”
The 23-day expedition will begin on 30th December 2021 with the 2000km+ voyage on board Bark Europa from Ushuaia, Argentina, crossing the infamous Drake Passage, to the Antarctic Peninsula which the Scouts will be exploring for two weeks.
Whilst in Antarctica, as well as working on their projects, the team will get to help crew the tall ship and to visit the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust base of Port Lockroy. They will also make a number of landings to study wildlife and carry out some ice trekking through dramatic scenery.
Dougie Simmers, Regional Commissioner for North East Scotland Scouts commented:
“ReQuest 2021 shows how far a Scout can go in the movement; Antarctica is truly the ultimate adventure, where Sam will put the skills for life learned with Scouts into practice at every turn. Antarctica is a destination, a select few people ever get to experience first-hand in their lives and now Sam will be one of them following his time as a Scout in the North East of Scotland.
Dwayne Fields – Naturalist and Polar Explorer added:
"Recreating expeditions like Shackleton’s classic 1921 journey gives Scouts from 2021 a real way to experience what those Polar pioneers must have experienced 100 years ago. Being inspired by Shackleton and some of the other greats from our past as well as sharing some of the same experiences that Shackleton’s team did back in 1921 helps shine a modern light on climate change issues which is the greatest challenge of our times. It’s important to see the Scouts doing their bit to tackle this issue."
To support Sam on his amazing adventure, consider donating towards his fundrasing page or purchase:
ReQuest2021 Tea-Towel here.
Christmas cards, pack of 10 £4 plus p&p here.
Wrist bands £5 plus p&p here.
Sew on badges £2 plus p&p here.


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Announcing Squirrels for 4–5 year olds: inspiring a new generation with skills for life
We couldn’t be prouder to announce Squirrels: our new programme for 4 and 5 year olds. It’s also a historic milestone for the Scout movement as this is the first time Scouts have lowered the age range in 35 years. We’re helping young people gain skills for life where and when it matters most.
Following two years of pilots and pioneering work in Northern Ireland, 9 Squirrel Drey’s are planned in Scotland. We’re prioritising communities most affected by the pandemic, and supporting families and young people who’ve fallen behind. There will be groups in: Dundee, Dunfermline, Kelty, Cowdenbeath, Stenhousemuir, Fordbank, Greenock, Craigalmond and Bridge of Allan, and currently two planned in the North East of Scotland in Early 2022.
We’re particularly proud to welcome those young people from underrepresented communities, including those who haven’t tried Scouts before.
Promoting key skills when it matters
Research from Ofsted tells us that children hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are lacking basic skills and learning. We know that what happens in these critical early years, when vital connections are being made in the brain will fundamentally shape their future.
Our programme’s therefore designed to support informal learning and help 4–5-year-olds catch up. It’s about promoting key skills like working together, communication, and language, as well as creativity and community awareness.
Squirrels get active, explore nature and have fun learning with friends, all while earning badges – just like other Scouts. New badges include Feel Good, Be Active, Explore Outdoors, Brilliant Builder and Exciting Experiments.
It’s a positive, safe environment for young children to develop essential skills for life, starting them on a journey to become the active citizens and leaders of the future.
To support the roll out of Squirrels, we’re now calling for adults, including parents and carers to step forward as part of our #GoodForYou campaign, designed to recruit over 5,000 new volunteers. We’re showing adults how volunteering for Scouts not only helps young people, but is good for them too, supporting wellbeing and building skills for employment and education.
Dougie Simmers, Regional Commissioner commented:“Squirrels is part of our commitment to help young people, families and communities come back stronger from the pandemic. If you’re four, you’ve spent a third of your life in lockdowns. Our mission at Scouts is to equip young people with skills for life, and we know how important early years is in terms of developing these skills. We are planning to rollout Squirrels gradually across the North East of Scotland with two units already confirmed for Early 2022, if you would like to register your interest in a Squirrels section near you contact your nearest group via our website."
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout, is helping launch the new age range: ‘I'm so glad that younger children now have the chance to join our family of Scouts,’ he said, ‘and develop skills for life.
‘We know from our pilot programme that 4–5-year-olds can really benefit from the activities that we offer. We believe that by offering opportunities at this early age, inspiring a sense of wonder, fun and curiosity, we can have a long-lasting, positive impact on young people’s lives.’
Growing in confidence
Charmaine, the mother of Alexia, a 5-year-old in an early years’ pilot group, shared the positive impact being in Scouts has had.
‘Alexia has loved coming to the meetings. She’s learnt so many skills, like confidence, independence, and learning to tidy up after herself. During lockdown, she set up a tent in the living room and camped there for two nights. The socialising has also helped her. She doesn’t go to school with the children here, so it’s good for her to meet other children.’
She agrees that parents and carers get actively involved too: ‘If the children are making something then the parents can make something as well, so they know how to do similar activities at home. The leaders are very encouraging and very child focused.
During lockdown they kept in touch and dropped off packs of activities for Alexia to do.  The best thing coming to Scouts is the skills they learn, the discipline it gives them, and the chance to get outside, play and interact with other children.’ – Charmaine
If you’d like to volunteer, find our more, or support the roll out of Squirrels, we’d love to hear from you. Join us as we start this exciting new journey, on the newest branch on Scouts’ family tree. Find out more here.
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After spending some time in lockdown, a group of Beavers from 21st Aberdeen Scout Group were determined to help people in need, once they came back to face to face Scouts. Through a well-planned sponsored hike they managed to raise £1,279.28 for Somebody Cares Aberdeen and then went onto organise a food collection for the Somebody Cares foodbank! 

The Beavers adapted to the COVID-19 restrictions at the time by creating and doing a circular hike from the Scout Centre via the Deeside way. Collectively the Beavers managed to clock up a whopping total distance of 212 kilometres altogether and they even earned their Community Impact badge at the same time!

Clara, a Beaver, said "We chose Somebody Cares because it is a charity that goes all around the world to help everybody. My favourite part was picking up litter while playing in the rain because I get to save the world and at the same time help the charity raise money!"

Yesenia Leal, a volunteer with the group explained: “The pandemic has affected everyone, but some groups in society have been particularly hard hit, Somebody Cares Aberdeen helps these people who are otherwise forgotten, when looking for a charity to support it choosing this one was a natural choice.”

Alison Topley of Somebody Cares Aberdeen commented “The money raised by the Beavers will be used to help many families within Aberdeen who are finding life a struggle at the moment. We will be able to buy food for our food bank and also help fund our free furniture service for clients who have been made homeless. We are extremely grateful and proud of the Beavers for their hard work, thought and compassion. They should be very proud of themselves and the difference they have made within our community.”

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Back in November 2020, Keith Millar, Assistant Group Scout Leader at Methlick, Assistant Explorer Leader at Daviot Oldmeldrum, and the Deputy District Commissioner for Gordon District was hillwalking on Ben Nevis.  It was there that Keith had to put his “skills for life” into practice in difficult conditions near the summit of the UK’s highest mountain. Keith is a keen hillwalker and whilst on his solo backpacking trip, his 1st aid skills and all the other training that Scouts had taught him were put to use.  
Keith came across a small group of people near the summit of Ben Nevis, one of whom had been injured from a 2-metre fall. Keith calmly advised the group what to do, firstly by contacting emergency services and giving them their detailed location (grid reference and height). Keith next applied first aid by checking that there were no other injuries and assisted in gently moving the casualty to a slightly more sheltered location out of the elements. 
Hypothermia was a great concern at this height (circa 1100m) and being above the snowline with biting winds, he knew time was of the essence.  Keith forfeited his jacket to the casualty, as he knew it could be a long wait for the mountain rescue to get to their position.  He descended back down the mountain to his campsite for more equipment, and here he heard the helicopter arrive, which sped up the whole rescue mission.  The rescue team were delivered by the helicopter, and he took them to the casualty. Afterwards, Keith proceeded to help get the remaining members of the party off the mountain.  Whilst helping that group off the hill, he managed to prevent another group heading for the summit and running into difficulties.  
After the incident was over, Keith returned to his tent on the mountainside and got a well-earned and quiet nights’ rest, before continuing on with his own adventures the following day.
Keith received a message the following day from one people with the original party, reading: “Thank you for your invaluable help, knowledge and advice today (& your jacket!). Thank you so much for your calm demeanour, particularly while stating all the facts".
After hearing about Keith’s actions, a number of volunteers nominated Keith for an award and through a rigorous process, Keith was honoured recently with one of the highest awards for acts of Gallantry, the Silver Cross. 
One of the nominations reads:“In recognition of their calm demeanour, practical skills and decisive action to support a group of walkers trying to descend Ben Nevis when one of them was injured after a fall.  By providing initial first aid, invaluable advice, facilitating call-out of mountain rescue and ensuring equipment and people got to the right location, they saved multiple lives in difficult conditions.  A truly inspirational leader!”
It was recently presented to him by NEScouts Regional Commissioner Dougie Simmers, with the award being exclusively reserved for acts of bravery in the face of danger where life has been at considerable risk.
Keith said: “I’m really honoured and delighted to receive this special award, which was a huge surprise. The rescue was just another part of a really enjoyable and exciting solo three-day expedition, in challenging conditions, on “The Ben”. I certainly never expected an award for doing something that is natural - to help people in their time of need. 
Scouting has always been, and still is, a massive part of my life and the historical and ongoing training in emergency aid and navigation in particular helped throughout. I highly recommend Scouting for adults as you get the opportunity to learn and play at the same time, while helping the young people take part in a safe environment but pushing them to their limit. Mountaineering is fun and Scouting is fun so what a great combination.
I am also a member of the British Red Cross and a SAS Wildcat Cardiac Responder so concern and empathy for the victims of the accident make dealing with the stress easier as I’m used to it. I am just so pleased that everyone was safe in the end as it could have ended badly.”
As part of his award, Keith will join other award winners, and Queen Scouts at the annual ceremony at Windsor Castle when current COVID restrictions allow.
Dougie Simmers commented: “Keith’s training and experience as a leader made him stand out above the rest in this situation.  His calm demeanour, being prepared for all eventualities and practical skills enabled the rescue team to arrive via helicopter rather than walking in, saving at least 3 hours in the rescue time, time which in turn saved at least two lives that day. He is a truly inspirational leader and it shows his character in the face of adversity, Scouts prepares people with not only the skills for life to handle these situations but the values that stick with someone throughout their life."
All Scouting members, both young people and adult volunteers, learn skills for life. From first aid to navigation, it’s all part of our balanced programme, tailored to the age ranges across our sections that we offer members.  You never know when it will be put to use.  
Scouting currently is as relevant today as it’s ever been, and has helped so many through the current pandemic.  We are always on the lookout for the next truly inspirational leader – is this you?  If you are interested in signing up as a volunteer get in touch at 


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