We have been blessed with several of our fabulous scouts achieving the highest award in scouting over the past few years and it has been great watching them all develop as they journey through every section of Scouting to eventually achieve the award.  To be a Queen’s scout takes extraordinary commitment over a significant amount of time, a minimum of 18 months to a maximum of 9 years, and it challenges everyone in all aspects of life, including endurance, commitment, personality, confidence, learning, community service and a person’s physical and mental preparedness.

Eleanor Whitehead is the latest scout from the group to achieve the award, and it seems fitting to tell you about this today as it is her 18th Birthday, “Happy Birthday Eleanor!” I first met Eleanor during a cub camp, she was the only girl among 40 cubs and she fitted right in, nothing seemed to phase her. It was also on that camp that I found out about Eleanor’s propensity for sleep, when Eleanor nods off she does so as if going into a coma, Eleanor can sleep anywhere and at any time. So it was on that first camp that it took me 10 minutes to wake her up after falling asleep watching a film, I then witnessed what could be described as a sloth, as she made her way to her tent to sleep. Since then I have lost count of the many coach journeys where Eleanor has fallen asleep and I have had the pleasure of using a marker pen to add to her facial features.

Eleanor was in my scout troop on a Friday for four years, and I will be honest with you, she was and still is my favourite scout, I know you shouldn’t have favourites, but…. sorry sometimes you can’t help it. Eleanor didn’t miss a camp or activity, she was first to volunteer, take part, help and best of all she always did it with a smile, a fabulous “Krusty the clown” laugh and a fearless attitude.

The pendulum swing in Switzerland, aged 11 and volunteering to clean toilets in 35-degree heat in Japan, are small examples of this girls can do attitude!

Eleanor’s achievement has made me a very proud scout leader, I am a father of two great lads, but if I am honest I would have loved a daughter (good job I didn’t, as any boy within a 10 metre distance would have been a legitimate target) and if I had had a daughter I would want her to be just like Eleanor.

I have said lots of nice things, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention the downside, Eleanor is a MESSY CAMPER, the contents of her rucksack end up everywhere and Eleanor believes in a minimal approach to personal hygiene, a quick sniff of an armpit to ascertain whether a shower is needed and changing your clothes is only necessary when clothing starts to walk out of your tent of its own accord or others complain about the smell. She’s getting better but it’s a slow process!

Eleanor, you are a fantastic scout, a role model for all scouts and all of us at Penistone Scout Group congratulate you on your latest achievement.

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Lastly, this photo just about sums up Eleanor, yes she is the one ensuring every last crumb of her Whitby Fish & Chips is eaten – very lady like, I am sure you will agree!