Britain’s oldest scout retires – aged 95

September 23, 2010 | by | 1 Comment

Britain’s oldest serving scout is finally hanging up his scarf and woggle aged 95 but has vowed to carry on camping – in his back garden.

Dedicated Reg Hayes first joined the Scouts to ”enjoy the great outdoors” in 1923 when he was just eight years old.

Since then he has organised countless events for Scouts and Cubs, amassed armfuls of awards and accidentally befriended a German spy.

But Reg, who never married, will retire from the organisation later this month because his bad back makes it to keep up with the youngsters.

But today he said he would carry on cooking traditional scout meals and sleeping under the stars in his garden.

The retired car engineer, from Cowley, Oxon., said: ”A lot of people can’t believe I’m 95, so it’s obviously keeping me young.

”I’m in very good health, apart from my back, but there are some times when I don’t feel quite up to it, so I think it’s time to take a well-earned break.

”I won’t stop camping though, I’ve got a life time of experience and memories all connected with the scouts.

”I might have a bad back but I’m just hooked on the great outdoors.

”I even have a little outdoor stove which I’ve set up in my garden so I can cook my dinner outdoors which has always been my favourite thing.

”There’s nothing better than getting your hands dirty then going to sleep under the stars.

”I used to be able to rustle up a decent meal with just a campfire and without using any utensils.

”I could use orange peel as little saucepans to cook food in. It works because the orange peel keeps in the heat to cook the food.

”The food that Scouts cooked around the campfire tastes better than half the rubbish we see on TV these days from the likes of Jamie Oliver.

”One of the first badges that I was awarded was the Tenderfoot Badge.

”I had to put in a lot of towards the badge. We had to do first aid and learn all the basic survival skills.

”Nowadays the Scouts do all sorts of things like skateboarding and quadbiking, but for me you just can’t beat camping.”

Reg first became a member of what was then the 2nd Oxford Wolf Cub pack then moved up to the SS Mary and John 2nd Oxford Scouts in 1930 during the reign of King George V.

He said: ”I was first introduced to the Wolf Cubs, as they were known then, by my gran.

”As an only child it gave me a chance to mix with other young boys and girls, which I very much enjoyed.

”After the war I was diagnosed with what they used to call shell-shock and spent some time in hospital.

”But the Scouts were still there when I came out and I think that helped me. They have been my whole life really.”

He met the movement’s founder, Lord Robert Baden Powell, when he visited Oxford Town Hall in 1923.

During his teenage years Reg won dozens of badges for activities including camping, orienteering, first aid and outdoor survival.

When Reg turned 18 he became a Scout leader and was a big-brother figure for hundreds of younger lads.

Soon after he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served with them during World War Two but always remained a member of the Scouts.

While he was in France in 1940 he struck up a friendship with a French-Canadian man, who shared his love of Scouting.

It was only after Mr Hayes returned to England that he learned the man was a German spy and had been executed soon after they met.

Reg suffered shell shock when he returned from the war but was nursed through it by the Scouts.

He became an Honorary Scout and group administrator when he was 65.

The pensioner has never married – which he says has allowed him to dedicate all his free time to the organisation.

His awards include The Long service Medal which he was awarded in 1938 and later The Medal of Merit for 10 years of exceptional adult service.

Reg received The Silver Acorn for 20 years’ service before being presented with the highest award of The Silver Wolf for ”service of the most exceptional nature”.

He has also received his own certificate for 70 years of service in 1993.

In 2008 Britain’s then oldest man, Henry Allingham, was invested as a Scout when he was 112 years old.

But when Mr Allingham died in July last year Reg became the oldest scout in the country.

He said: ”Several people have told me that I’m the oldest Scout but it’s never been officially confirmed.

”I don’t suppose there will be anyone else around who can remember the early days when I met Lord Robert Baden Powell.

”I remember thinking he looked very old, even though he was younger than I am now.”

The Scout Association has confirmed Reg was the oldest living Scout in Britain.

A spokesman said: ”Reg is definitely, by our reckoning, the oldest living Scout.

”If there are others who are older they have not been identified.

”We are very proud of Reg’s achievements.”

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  1. Sammystrong says:

    I know this incredible person very well but I think he forgot that he was married to a “very controlling” woman for seven years just after the war.

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