50 years of St Eugene's Scouting in Derry and still going strong
Be prepared! Members and friends – present and past – of the St Eugene’s Scouts are invited to a Thanksgiving Mass and Celebration Gathering at 12.30pm on February 26 at St Eugene’s Cathedral to mark the unit’s Golden Jubilee.
Founded in 1972 during the darkest days of the Troubles, Fourth Derry CBSI- later Scouting Ireland – has made an enormous contribution to the lives of many young Derry boys and girls.
It started out with a cub pack meeting in a former classroom portable cabin at the old Rosemount Girls School (now long demolished) on Creggan Road. But over the years the Unit has gone from strength to strength.
The first Scout troop had 14 members but interest and enjoyment overseen by a dedicated team of leaders, meant that St Eugene’s Scouts soon became one of the most successful Units in the City and surrounding region.
In time the Unit expanded, with meetings moving firstly to St Anne’s school hall on Nassau Street and then in the 80s and early 90s to a dedicated Scout den in the old Bethany Hall on Park Avenue. Today, meetings continue at St Anne’s.
In the beginning the people of Rosemount and its surrounds made great efforts to raise much needed funds through one-day shops, cake sales, sponsored walks and raffles – it was a fantastic community effort to support opportunities for fun, education and skills, adventure and camaraderie for our young people during very difficult times.
Leaders are the cornerstone of any successful Scout Unit. St Eugene’s was blessed over the years with many committed leaders and parents who generously volunteered their time and talents on evenings and weekends to support scout meetings, camping and a wide range of outdoor activities.
Before long, members were making new friends and learning scouting skills at camps in Clonmany and elsewhere.
The first big camp for the scouts was in Johnstown Castle in County Wexford. The first night was a washout – heavy rain and winds meant the night had to be spent in a barn! But everyone learned from their experience and although there were the usual ups and downs, many more happy memories were made at camps throughout Ireland and at gatherings and jamborees as far away as Switzerland, Norway, Belgium and the United States.
In time boys and girls from families all over the parish would benefit from the friendship, leadership and team building, travel, charity work, skills and crafts development offered to Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Venture Scouts – all in a fun packed environment.
Many of these young people would go on to play important roles in their families and community, including in the worlds of sport, music, business, health and education, politics and the Church.
One special memory that stands out was the first time the Bethlehem light was carried into St Eugene’s Cathedral in the late 1980s and a prayer was composed which is now used all over the country and the world. Every Christmas the light is carried and handed on in a great relay by Scout troops all the way from the site of the stable at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity to various parts of Europe.
It reminds us of the tremendous links between scouts of all creeds and nations and of the family of scouting which extends around the globe and down the generations.
There is much to be thankful for and the 50th anniversary Mass and celebrations will provide an opportunity to look back on many happy days in scouting and also bring to mind former leaders, members, sponsors and friends who have gone to their rest. All are welcome to this special occasion at St Eugene’s Cathedral and afterwards to light refreshments in the Parish Hall.