Four Cardiff Scout volunteers ‘humbled’ to be honoured for almost 160 years’ combined service

Four Cardiff retirees who have dedicated a combined total of almost 160 years to Scouting say they are “extremely humbled” to receive the country’s top Scout’s volunteering award.

John Littlechild MBE, Mike Lewis, Steve Barkley, and Paul Willicombe were recognised at a prestigious ceremony in Windsor Castle on April 28th as part of a special Day of Celebration honouring Scouts and volunteers from across the UK.

Mr Littlechild, 72, was celebrated for achieving the esteemed Silver Acorn honour, while Mr Lewis, 76, achieved the Silver Wolf, Mr Barkley, 63, and Mr Willicombe 67, both achieved the Bar to the Silver Acorn.

All four, from Cardiff, were recognised at the event, which was attended by Chief Scout Bear Grylls along with His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, and fellow Scouting ambassadors actor Warwick Davies, polar explorer Dwayne Fields and survivalist Megan Hine.

They were among 14 volunteers from Wales who were recognised during the event with the St George’s Day Awards, which aim to celebrate their exceptional service and contribution to Scouting.

Roger Kingdom from Penarth and Mr Lewis were gifted The Silver Wolf Award in recognition of services to Scouting of the most exceptional nature. Introduced by Lord Baden-Powell, The Silver Wolf Award remains the Scout Association’s highest award for service to Scouting.

Mr Lewis, from Rhiwbina, received the prestigious honour in recognition of 57 years’ service to Scouting. He is currently the Group Scout Leader for the 1st Rhiwbina Scouts and a District Executive Committee Member.

On his award he said:

“I am incredibly honoured and proud to have been awarded the Silver Wolf, one of Scouting’s highest honours.

“I have dedicated most of my life to supporting young people to reach their potential and to give them invaluable skills for life which set them on the path to a meaningful future – so I am thrilled to receive this award.

“Being a Scout provides meaningful and educational activities coupled with great training and goals and has been incredibly rewarding for me. I’d like to thank all my Scouts family who have supported me over the decades.”

Others awarded were Mr Barkley, Mr Willicombe, and Pat Hillman, who received the Bar to the Silver Acorn, which is handed out to those who have dedicated 20 plus years’ service to Scouting. While the Silver Acorn, celebrating 20 years, was awarded to Mr Littlechild MBE, Sarah Riby of Afan Nedd, Pat Thomas of Neath, Lorna Corbin in Chepstow, Gwyn James, Stephen Rogers of Caldicot, and Chris Hollis of Ceredigion.

Finally, the Bar to the Award for Merit was given to Nicola Gamlen, of Hawarden, for 22 years’ of outstanding service.

Retiree Mr Littlechild was awarded in recognition of 36 years’ of volunteering service with the Scouts, including his role as the District Appointments Chairman and District President for Cardiff East.

On his award, the dedicated volunteer said:

“I am truly delighted and humbled to have been recognised among some of the most hard working and exceptional Scouting volunteers across the country.

“During the past 36 years volunteering with the Scouts I have learned so many invaluable skills and been able to pass on the knowledge I have acquired to support young people in their personal development, which is very fulfilling.

“Scouting has always been a pleasure, and as such I am delighted to have received this wonderful award.”

His Scouting colleague, Mr Barkley received his award after devoting 42 years to the organisation. He currently supports the TY Hafan and Cardiff East District and Area Training Team as Assistant Group Scout Leader, District Deputy Commissioner Adult Support, and Local Training Manager.

While Mr Willicombe was awarded for over 30 years’ service including his current role as the Cardiff and Vale Area Executive, campsite warden, Area Nights Away Adviser, and the Appointments Panel Member for Area and District.

Supporting over 14,000 young people in Wales gain skills for life, Rhian Moore, Chief Commissioner of Wales, said she was “incredibly proud of and grateful to” all the volunteers who were recognised.

She said:

“We are absolutely blown away with the amazing achievements, commitment and dedication of these inspirational individuals who have gone above and beyond in their role as volunteers.

“We are very proud of the fact that each week in Wales, we give over 14,000 young girls and boys the opportunity to enjoy fun and adventure, while developing the skills they need to succeed, now and in the future.

“From abseiling and coding to drama and water-zorbing, we encourage our young people to do more, learn more and be more. Thanks to the support of these volunteers, we are creating stronger communities in Wales and inspiring positive futures for the people of Wales.

“Our movement wouldn’t be what it is without the generous support of these volunteers and we are incredibly proud of, and grateful to, them.”