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Epsoms scout leader retires after half a century at the helm
A man who has spent more than half a century as a scout leader said stepping away from the role last week was "extremely emotional".
Geoff Collins, 70, of Downs Road, in Epsom, retired as group leader of 3rd Epsom Scouts, based at the back of John Chandler Hall, in Church Road, Epsom, last Thursday, October 4, after 52 years at the helm.
He joined the group as a cub scout aged eight, won the Queen’s scout award aged 18 and "took out a warrant" the same year, allowing him to start leading the group's cub pack.
He went on to become the assistant district commissioner for Epsom and Ewell for a decade, winning the silver acorn award for outstanding services to scouting - an accolade for which he received another bar 10 years’ ago.
He said: "I remember going along at eight and thoroughly enjoying it. And I have enjoyed it ever since.
"I had 10 years’ enjoyment and then it seemed right to give something back as leader."
Mr Collins, who worked as a civil and structural engineer at Epsom-based W S Atkins for 40 years until 2000, even helped build the group a new scout hut in the 1960s.
He led a team which constructed its new scout hut on top of the old one, with the latter demolished after its replacement was complete.
The concept, devised by Mr Collins, ensured the scouts' activities were not disrupted.
On his time as leader, he said: "It’s very rewarding and not particularly onerous in terms of time but when you get to 70 you run out of steam.
"It’s excellent for children to be in a uniformed movement with outdoor activity. It teaches you general life skills, how to live. It's still relevant.
"They are trying to keep it up-to-date. Scouting hasn’t sold-out yet."
At a leaving celebration to mark his departure from 3rd Epsom Scouts, which has 64 youngsters, Mr Collins was presented with a specially designed plinth.
He said: "It was extremely emotional as I’m a softie. If someone says nice things about me I burst into tears."
Richard Ascough, 47, acting group scout leader, added: "Geoff has been the mainstay of the group.
"An innovator, craftsman, mentor, teacher and scouting colleague, Geoff and his skills will be sorely missed."
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