From a canoe and a VIP grew this fine troop of Sea Scouts

Derek JamesActs of bravery and tireless voluntary work during the First World War turned scouts into heroes…and a whole new generation of boys wanted to join up.Derek James

Acts of bravery and tireless voluntary work during the First World War turned scouts into heroes…and a whole new generation of boys wanted to join up.

We pick up the story of the 1st Norwich Sea Scouts, one of the oldest groups of its kind in the world, during the 1920s and for members of the 1st Norwich and their reputation as the best in the city was reinforced by a visit from a VIP in 1926.

Large crowds watched as Chief Scout Sir Robert Baden-Powell was a passenger in the extraordinary 28ft war canoe which carried 14 paddlers and eight passengers as it travelled from Thorpe Station to Pulls Ferry.

Because of that canoe the troop decided to form a patrol of Sea Scouts and changed their patrol name from Owls to Seagulls. Under the leadership of Edward 'Skipper 'Coe, founder and group scoutmaster from 1927 to 1947, the troop flourished.

With the Skipper at the helm they were a force to be reckoned with - representing Great Britain at the first international Sea Scout Jamboree in Poland in the 1932.

The troop used a boathouse at Wroxham Broad as their HQ and both Baden Powell and Prince George were visitors. It even had had two old wherries and a flying boat. Prized possessions

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During the Second World War the scouts proved yet again how useful and willing they were helping the civil defence groups but victory came at a cost and the scout movement suffered in the late 1940s.

There was no money and poor equipment but slowly the troop fought back under the leadership, this time around, of Eric Greenfield, scoutmaster from 1950 to 1973.

Camps proved popular, membership grew and in 1952 the 1st Norwich was the first in the county to achieve Admiralty Recognition. By The late 1950s and early 60s friendships were being formed with groups Hohenlimburg in Germany - a new generation making friends not war.

In the 70s another great leader Alan (Addy) Adcock helped the troop to meet the challenges thrown up by life in the late 20th and early 21st century. Times were changing quickly.

With the arrival of the 1980s came the girls. The 1st Norwich became an early pioneer in the move to admit girls to scouting but it not until 11 years later that Katie Adcock, Hannah Smith and Clare Bodden were invested.

The first girl cubs, Amelia Rix, Amelia Land and Hanna Burrell were invested in 2005 and in 2006 Chloe Richardson was the first girl to join the Beaver Colony.

Today there are around 100 members and it is good to know that in 2010 young people love becoming a Beaver, Cub, Scout or Explorer and that 'grown-ups' are still keen to get involved as leaders.

The remarkable story of the 1st Norwich Sea Scouts is told in the new book It Can Be Done, which is packed with photographs and memories, by Jane Stafford and Rhonda Pike.

It costs �20 and is in Jarrold and at The Trading Post on Rowington Road, Norwich. Call 01603 619194 or visit

Did You Know?

On this day in Norwich of 1858, the day after big fires damaged large areas of the city, Pc Hazell raised the alarm after smelling burning at the Andrews and French soap factory in Fishgate Street. Horses were moved out of the stables as the fire took hold. Men and women formed human chains with buckets of water but the whole area was reported to be in a state of ruin.

On this day in Norfolk of 1867 two brigs, the Ark and Sarah, collided in heavy seas off Great Yarmouth and 16 crew lost their lives.

On this day in 1912 New Mexico was admitted as the 47th US state.

On this day in 1929 Mother Teresa arrived in Calcutta and started her legacy of work amongst the poorest people of India.

On this day in 1977 music publisher EMI ended its contract with the Sex Pistols because of their notorious behaviour in public.