1st East Ryde Cub Scout Leader celebrates 50 years of service

Published Tue 19 Dec 2023

A special surprise celebration was held at 1st East Ryde Scout Hall to celebrate 50 years of service by Cub Scout Leader Phillip Ward.

Phillip, affectionately known as “One Tonner”, has been a stalwart of the Group, serving in various Leader capacities at 1st East Ryde since he joined in 1973.

He started out as a Venturer Leader, before stepping in to support the Cub Scouts, moving up into Scouts, restarting the Venturer Unit, moving back into Cubs again for more than a decade and then jumping in with the Joey Scouts.

He never thought he would be involved so long or do so much.

“When I started out, I thought I’d give it a year and see what it’s like and then when I decided 'yes, I'll stay’, I thought it would be about 20 years,” he said.

“I love seeing people grow up to be responsible citizens, to shape their personal development. That’s at a high level. At a lower level, it’s the enjoyable experiences. I’ve been to about seven or eight Jamborees over the years and Cuborees and Agoonorees.

“My first Jamboree was in 1979/80 when our Scout Group bought two old buses – one by a group of three families – mine included – the other by the Scout Group. We trekked all the way across to Perth in these old government buses. It was quite a journey and a good experience. 

“The cycle is something I’ve seen over the years. I now have Cub Scouts whose parents were my Cub Scouts.”

Jack of all trades

While Phillip wanted to join Scouts as a child in the 1950s, as his three brothers were part of 1st Gladesville, the death of his father meant his mother could not afford to send him. However, his time came when he was 20 and 1st East Ryde, which was near where Phillip was living at the time, needed Leaders.

“I found myself going there to support a chap starting a Venturer Unit,” he said.

“I went away and did my training at 3rd North Ryde with Rusty Russell. When I came back to East Ryde, the Venturer Unit had folded. So, I retrained to do Cub Scouts because there was a need there.

“In 1975, I became a fully-fledged Assistant Cub Scout Leader. In the meantime, we had lost our Scout Leaders, so having had about 18 months to two years’ experience with Cub Scouts, some of whom were Scouts by that stage, I thought ‘I know these kids, I’ll go and fill in until they find proper Leaders’.”

After helping out with the Scouts, Phillip went back to Cubs before there were once again enough older Scouts wanting to do Venturers to reopen the Unit. Having just completed his Cub Scout Wood Badge course, Phillip went back into Venturer Leader training before restarting the Unit, which has continued until today.

Throughout this time, Phillip had been working as a teacher at Murray Farm Public School, while being a Leader at 1st East Ryde Scout Group. In the late 1970s, the NSW Department of Education transferred him from Murray Farm to East Ryde Public School, where half the boys in his classroom were in his Cub Scout Unit.

In 1980, he became the Cub Scout Leader for the Group’s two Cub Scout Units and stayed with this age section for more than 10 years. In the 1990s, he became a Joey Scout Leader.

Passionate about youth development

Phillip said he enjoys all age sections, but particularly Cubs and Joeys.

“I probably prefer Cubs, because I spent the longest time there,” he said.

“Because you can see the kids developing and have the opportunity to give them experiences. The kids are really motivated by the achievement pathway to set their own goals. I find our role now is to support and guide them.

“It harks back to when I started the second Cub Unit – I relied heavily on the older Cubs and they rose to the occasion. Suddenly the Unit grew from about a dozen up to full very quickly. We had some great camps too.

“Every two years I’d run a camp in January for the kids who are not going away for the holidays. It began with a weeklong camp at Toowoon Bay Scout Hall. In more recent times, we’ve had camps at Tea Gardens and Tuena – halfway between Bathurst and Goulburn.

“I always encourage parents and families to come along. Out of that, we get new Leaders. It’s the best way of doing it, along with having time to talk it over with them and share the opportunities they will have and what to expect.”

From bush to music

Phillip’s great love in Scouting is camping and bushwalking, sharing the basic Scouting skills with youth members. But over the years his musical talents have also come into play, supporting the Hornsby and Cumberland Gang Shows.

“At Hornsby I was a quarter of the orchestra back in those days,” he said.

“We had a synthesiser, me on electric piano, guitar and drums. I had to stop due to starting the Ryde East School Band. I don’t believe in doing a job that someone else can do and if there’s a younger person that can do the job, let’s give them a chance.”

Volunteering has so many personal benefits

Phillip encouraged anyone who was interested in volunteering to go for it.

“There are so many things about Scouting that are so good. It helps not only general personal development, but you get the reward of seeing how you can influence others in a positive way,” he said.

“I’ve known people that have gotten employment because of the training they’ve done through SAIT (Scouts Australia Institute of Training – providing volunteers with nationally-recognised qualifications). I’ve found with some of the other things I do, for example catering for events at Field of Mars Reserve, on one occasion Ryde Council wanted to know what my qualifications were to serve food. I quoted my Certificate IV in Frontline Management (gained through SAIT) and that was more than enough for them to be happy with it.

“Of personal benefit, it was Scout Leaders that recommended me for the OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia), which was given to me in 2008. The person who nominated me was Rusty Russell, the first Leader I ever trained with. Our District Commissioner nominated me for Ryde Citizen of the Year.”


Celebrating 50 amazing years

Phillip was surprised by the celebrations recognising his 50 years of service, with the unveiling of a plaque above the entrance door of the Scout hall as well as the presentation of a new shovel, with the inscription “Still digging Scouts after 50 years” on it.

The event was attended by a range of special guests, including former Scouts NSW Chief Commissioner Neville Tomkins OAM and owner of The Weekly Times and co-founder of the 1st East Ryde Scout Group John Booth AM.

“The good thing about my life is I’ve had a lot of fun with great people, but Scouting is where I’ve got the most friends,” Phillip said.

“I have no immediate intention to stop, however, I do want to take a step backwards and let others adopt a greater leadership role, while I guide others and help out as needed.”

Congratulations Phillip!


Divider image