The Isle of Wight Scouts were excited to welcome world class yachtsman Sir Ben Ainslie for a charity lunch at Haseley Manor, hosted by Anthony and Vivian Roberts.

Sir Ben, who holds five Olympic medals, including four Golds, talked about his work with the British America Cup challenges, and answered questions from the audience before sharing in an excellent lunch, cooked and served by Wendy Topp and the Scouts.

Scouting and the Island have had a long and close connection. Uffa Fox, a grand niece of the founder, Lord Baden-Powell was a Scout leader, and Lady Grylls is the mother of the current Chief Scout, Bear Grylls – both now live on the Island. At the lunch, Lady Grylls read out a welcome message to Sir Ben which had been sent by Bear from the United States where he was filming.

The occasion ended with an address by Dave Simpson, the Scout County Commissioner, who gave a warm welcome to the Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Susie Sheldon, an Ambassador for the Scout movement, and Sir Guy Acland, the Island Scout President.

He went on to detail the effects of the pandemic on Scouting on the Island, which included all the regular weekly meetings, camping, expeditions, sailing, and other outdoor activities having to cease for many months. Many groups did their best with Zoom meetings, and even with Scouts camping on their floor at home, but the membership of young people had reduced.

However, normal Scouting has now restarted and numbers are rising rapidly. The money raised at the lunch with Sir Ben will help with the re-start process, and more adult volunteers are being encouraged to get involved.

Colin Clarke
Author: Colin Clarke