Towards the end of 1999 we moved into the new building. We hadnít long been in, when it was discovered that an error had been made in the planning, which meant that extra iron girders would have to be deployed to strengthen the structure. This took several months to arrange and accomplish, and meanwhile we were not allowed into the main hall, so once again we were homeless. This time we had to resort to hiring rooms in the School for our meetings, which obviously put quite serious constraints on what we could do. However, eventually this problem was sorted out, and we were once again able to move back into our HQ.
A further difficulty beset us in 2004, when we were informed by the School authorities that we would no longer be allowed the use of the Copse, which had been our training ground at least since 1964, and possibly longer. Fortunately, this ruling was partly reversed five years later, and on our return to the lower section of the Copse, we found a wilderness, which needed much work to return it to its former state and make it a safe and pleasant place for the youngsters.
We had started Beavers, run by Ann Pope, as soon as the building was complete. Ann had several helpers from the Venture Unit and Troop, as well as adult volunteers. When Ann retired as Beaver Leader in 2016, Acorn Clayton, who had recently returned to us, took over the Colony. Martin, Paul and Kim were recruited to help.
Meanwhile, our Cub Pack, which had started life in January 1993 under Christine Parry, was led first by Judith Collins and her team, then by her daughter Claire, and later by Acorn Clayton; it had periods of great success and large numbers, interspersed with times when, owing largely to a shortage of Leaders, the numbers were smaller.
When Acorn left, Angela Johnson ran the Pack for a year or so, and then Lizzie Cockerton took over. Assistants now include Matthew Pelling and Callum Daniel, and the Pack has exxpanded and become involved in many interesting and varied actvities.
During the years in the new hall, a lot of work still remained to be carried out. The most urgent was to deal with the reverberation in the main hall, which was so bad that it was quite impossible to understand what anyone was saying from a distance of more than a few yards. We commissioned some large baffle boards, filled with mineral wool, which cost a lot of money, but also went a long way towards curing this problem.
In 2002 we were once again without a Scout Leader, and so I took over the running of the Troop myself. This was at the time when the age range was reduced, and youngsters aged 15 were required to transfer to Explorers, the replacement Section for Ventures. The big difference was that Explorers were to be run by District and could not form part of the Group.
Meanwhile, the building was used every night of the week, by Rangers, Guides, Explorers, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, and often at weekends for various activities.
In particular, the memorial gates, which we had removed for renovation, could not be replaced at the time, and so were languishing in the stores. We commissioned new gate posts and hinges, with a view to restoring the gates to their rightful position. New plaques were also needed to replace the old ones, which had been lost, and at our Open Night in May 2012 Peter Michell, the College Chaplain, came and rededicated the gates.
Meanwhile, the Troop camps continued. Whereas in earlier times the main emphasis had been on camping for the sake of it, now, while camping standards remained high, a much wider variety of activities became available. Among many highlights, the 2013 camp on Guernsey was in many ways typical of the modern approach. We camped with two Patrols of Scouts and two Patrols of Explorers; the mere fact of flying to camp was a first, and the activities included coasteering, sailing and kayaking on the sea, cycling to St Peter Port, building a lookout tower, and much else besides.
We've always taken a pride in the fact that the Scouts themselves cook all the main meals on wood fires, and that the menus include lots of interesting dishes from home and abroad.