FOR anyone who has never been involved with the Scout movement or doesn’t know anything about it, it was founded by Robert Baden Powell in 1907 and is a great worldwide organisation that bonds young people, enabling them to form lifelong friends.

Many of the friends I have made over the years I still keep in touch with, and old friends I look forward to seeing at next year’s celebrations of the centenary of 1st Spen Valley (St Paul’s) Scout Group.

In Scouting, young people develop life changing skills that never leave; important outdoor skills, hiking, map reading, wide games, cooking, first aid, lots of adventures. Most of all while having fun.

My father was a King Scout, the highest award achievable, before the Second World War. He was a Scout leader and my three brothers were also in Scouts, so it was only natural that I joined too. It’s in the blood.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The first group photo of the 1st Spen Valley Scouts, in 1930The first group photo of the 1st Spen Valley Scouts, in 1930 (Image: Harrison Lord)

I joined Birkenshaw Scout Group in 1953 prior to Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation and have spent all my life associated with the group ever since. I went through the ranks of Wolf Cub, Scout, Senior Scout, Cub/Scout Leader and Group Scout Leader. After retiring from the general running of the group, I progressed to being involved with the group’s executive committee, having an active role as treasurer before stepping back as a member of the committee, fundraising and looking after the business side of the group.

Camping was always a favourite of mine, we had very memorable camps at Kettlewell in the Dales, Oxford and The Lakes...maybe they would make a good novel!

I fondly remember great times at Fanwood Scout Campsite in Gomersal which is still going strong today.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The scouts enjoying a day out in PitlocheryThe scouts enjoying a day out in Pitlochery (Image: Harrison Lord)

We had many laughs taking part in the Spen Valley Gang Shows, of course there’s always a practical joke, but always the bond of friendship.

In 1957 I attended the World Jamboree in Sutton Coldfield, this is a fantastic opportunity for Scouts today to make friends from around the world and swap badges. Jamboree just means a joyful noisy gathering or celebration. I still have the newspaper reports from my visit.

I can clearly remember taking part in the Dalesman Hike, an endurance hike with two of my pals, David Lorrimer and Malcolm Hampshire. It was an overnight camp with activities en-route to score points, boy that was tough, but fun!

Scouting can also bring true love! In 1970 I married Hilary, she was Baloo, a cub leader.

So why did I write a book about Scouting? In 2024, Birkenshaw 1st Spen Valley Scout Group, will celebrate their 100th Anniversary, and I felt that after being connected with the group for over 70 years it was time to write a potted history of the group from its inception in 1924 to the current day.

I wanted it to be a document for present members to be able to carry forward for many years to come, and to look back how the group evolved and where it is going in the future.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Alan at his book launchAlan at his book launch (Image: Harrison Lord)

I was fortunate with my research, being able to access many documented log books, a lot of these handwritten by the founder members of the group and archived for safe keeping.

The book which contains many anecdotes and stories is a potted history of Scouting in Birkenshaw from 1924-2024 and will bring back many happy memories to everyone who has been part of its history.

Having never written a book before, the content was my main concern, and keeping the readers’ interest. I managed to achieve this by balancing and condensing pages of historic information, with photographs and past member’s memories to give an informative, refreshing read.

The 1st Spen Valley has always been strong vibrant group in West Yorkshire and the Spen Valley district, and over the years the dedicated teams of leaders have given their time and effort, voluntarily, for the benefit of the boys and now girls in the village. A big thank you to everyone concerned. Without the leaders there is no Scout group.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Alan's book celebrates a centenary of scoutingAlan's book celebrates a centenary of scouting (Image: Harrison Lord)

Over the 100 years, it is a credit to any group achieving this status, and I am especially proud to have been part of the 1st Spen Valley Scout Group in achieving this great accolade.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The 1st Spen Valley Scouts todayThe 1st Spen Valley Scouts today (Image: Harrison Lord)

* Alan Holmes received the Silver Acorn Award in 2017 for his services to Scouting. He urges anyone with “a passion for adventure, developing new skills and the outdoors” to find out how they can get involved in Scouting, or encourage their children or grandchildren to go along and see what fun it is.

The 1st Spen Valley Scout Group has a full diary of celebrations planned for its 100th anniversary next year and Alan’s book is part of that.

* Alan Holmes’ book 100 Year History of 1st Spen Valley (St Paul’s) Scout Group is £10 and available from Gorgeous Gifts & Cards, Birkenshaw, and Harrison Lord Gallery, Brighouse.

To order a copy email