St John’s Wood scouts future secured thanks to new leader

24-year-old Tom Larkin follows in family footsteps to save the club

A ST John’s Wood scout group is celebrating its survival after a new scout leader came to the rescue.

The 8th St Marylebone Scout Club, known as the Diehards, appealed for a new leader in August to ensure its younger cub group didn’t fail to graduate to scouts for the first time in the group’s 80-year history.

Their wishes were answered last month when 24-year-old actor Tom Larkin decided to follow in his parents’ footsteps and offer his services as scout leader.

He said: “My family is very involved with the scouts so there’s plenty of history there. My parents actually met through scouting.

“My dad worked on the advertisement video when the group was looking for a scout leader and I saw it and thought I could help.

“I had gone right through all the scouting groups when I was younger and now I have more time since graduating and I’m ready to get involved again.”

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He said that, while scouting is predominantly for the youngsters involved, the rewards can be just as great for the adults who volunteer their services to run the groups.

“Adults get a lot of fun out of it as well as the kids,” he said. “It’s quite fulfilling to be part of the kids’ lives and give them the opportunity to be good members of society.”

Having started life in 1924 in Caplan Street, Lisson Grove, the St John’s Wood group recently moved to the �8million purpose-built Mansergh building in Hill Road, making it one of the best-equipped scouting halls in the country.

With its future secured in the short-term, the entire beaver, cub and scout groups went on a celebratory outing to the scouting headquarters of Gilwell Park last weekend for the first 8th St Marylebone Scout Club group trip in 14 years.

St John’s Wood group leader Cliff Jordan, who was born in the area and has been a member of the Diehards since the age of 12, says the weekend trip heralds the start of a new era.

“It’s a great start and a historical event for our group,” he said. “We have moved away from being under threat and it looks incredibly exciting. It’s exactly where we want to be going.

“It’s an exciting time for me, having done this for 15 years, and it’s nice to see it all starting to come together again.”

While there are 23 children spread across the cubs and scouts, Mr Jordan, who has temporarily been filling in as cub leader, says the group is still in need of more help from volunteers in order to fully develop it for the youngsters.

Indeed such a trend is replicated across London where 340 more adult volunteers are needed to cater for almost 2,000 children on the scout waiting list.

“I want to try to find a leader to come forward and take over the cubs so I can concentrate on my role as overall group leader,” he said.