Glen Innes Scout Troop opens old mall made new

BIG DAY: Glen Innes Scouts cooked damper for the occasion, putting the new kitchen to good use. Pictures: Andrew Messenger.
BIG DAY: Glen Innes Scouts cooked damper for the occasion, putting the new kitchen to good use. Pictures: Andrew Messenger.

Regional Australia's oldest scouting troop has got a shot in the arm, with their 90 year old Scout Hall getting a full renovation and refurbishment.

The Glen Innes First Scouting Troop met this Saturday to celebrate the completion of the three year job.

Group leader Ian Higgins said the building dates to the 1920s and had been the Scout group's base ever since.

Their new kitchen was put into service straight away, with scouts preparing a damper lunch for dozens of guests.

Mr Higgins, who joined the Glen Innes scouts in 2006, said they're better placed to grow now that at any time since he joined the organisation as an adult.

"I was never a boy scout," he said.

"I moved here in town and had a couple of boys who were looking for something to do.

"I haven't left yet!"

Founded in 1908 when an English grammar school teacher traveled to set up a Glen Innes school, the Troop was established just one year after the movement was founded in the UK.

It was the first scouting group in regional Australia.

Group Leader Ian Higgins said he hopes the group can build on its 27 members, including parents.

The best thing the Scouts can do, he said:

"Give kids skills in life, and learn teamwork - and also learn independence and do things that are out of the ordinary. Most people wouldn't do abseiling or orienteering - hiking, as we call it.

"You go with a group of people who are likeminded and have the gear provided so you don't have to buy it all yourself!"

The three year project was only possible with the financial assistance and help of a long list of Glen Innes organisations, including the RSL sub-branch, Rotary, the Op shop, and Home Hardware.

Coca-Cola funded the project to the tune of $33,000 through a pair of grants. It was largely completed over holidays, when Scouts do not run.

Rotary member Desmond FitzGerald, who attended the opening, described the hall as a "considerable community asset where both boys and girls can be involved in satisfying and enterprising activities in the development of teamwork and cooperation.

"Scouting makes good healthy citizens. The training encourages resilience under hardship as well opportunities for leadership in a happy social environment."

Their next project for the building is to raise money to fund a disabled toilet.