Green thinking not a new thing, says Les

Helping the environment by recycling household waste may be thought of as a modern-day idea, but according to north Norfolk Scouting stalwart Les Love, the trend for being green dates back to the Second World War.

Helping the environment by recycling household waste may be thought of as a modern-day idea, but according to north Norfolk Scouting stalwart Les Love, the trend for being green dates back to the Second World War.

Aylmerton-born Les, 77, joined West Runton Scout group at the age of 11. "It was 1943 and we used to collect salvage for the war effort, from jam jars and waste paper, to acorns for pig food and rosehips for rosehip syrup," he explained.

Les was made a Scout leader at the age of 18, and he's been co-ordinating the group's recycling

scheme ever since.

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"We were doing it long before most people really thought about being environmentally friendly," he said. 'We were collecting around the village with our little wheelbarrows which we made with pram wheels.'

After a 7-year stint as assistant district commissioner in the 1960s and 70s, Les was made group Scout leader - around the time that current group Scout leader Paul Henricksen signed up at West Runton as an 10-year-old Cub.

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Les's whole family has been involved in the group, including daughter Caroline, who is a former leader, daughter Judith, who is a Beaver Scout leader and wife Mary, who has stayed on as a committee member after clocking up 30 years as a leader.

Les officially retired in 1997 - the same year he was presented with Scouting's top accolade - the Queen's Award. But he has remained as active in the group as ever and, as well as sitting on the executive committee at West Runton, he is now vice president of north east Norfolk district.

His environmental efforts have continued to have major impact on the finances of the group, which now receives around �4,000 a year by recycling about 100 tonnes of rubbish.

Beavers, Cubs and Scouts and their parents help with collections, while local businesses and individuals support the group by saving waste paper and plastic milk bottle tops.

"We like to think we are a family group," Les said. "Everyone helps out and several of our leaders have come right through from Cubs and put back what they have got out of Scouting."

What is the best thing about your job?

That's probably seeing how Scouting helps youngsters get on in the world. It's character building and, often, if they mention that they've been a Scout, it can help them with job interviews.

And the worst?

The paperwork! Scouting has evolved and I think that, sometimes, change for change's sake is not always good. The people who sit in offices don't always understand what is happening at grass roots level.

What is your favourite Norfolk building?

Felbrigg Hall - In the 1950s, my sister worked there as a cook when it was owned by the local squire, Robert Wyndham Ketton-Creamer, and I spent a lot of time there.

Whom do you most admire?

A lot of people in Scouting, but particularly Hugh Whittaker, who ran Holt Hall when it was a private school. He was Scout county commissioner and a great chap.

Have you ever done anything outrageous?

How do you define outrageous? I've done some pretty silly things, including spending the whole of a camping trip in hospital after chopping my hand with an axe - I permanently lost the use of my thumb.

What has been your proudest moment?

I'm proud that my whole family has been involved in Scouting, and it was wonderful to see my granddaughter Louise receiving the Queen's Award at the St George's Day parade at Windsor.

And your greatest achievement?

Receiving the Silver Award - the highest award in Scouting - at Buckingham Palace and meeting the Queen.

Who or what is the love of your life?

After my family, Scouting. It's not a way of life to me; it's a way to life. We have done so much, had so many adventures and to see so many young people pass through has been incredible.

Favourite book, film and TV programme?

I enjoy all good books, I love Disney films and on TV, I like watching wildlife or adventure programmes.

How would you like to be remembered?

Just as someone who has tried to help young people and put them on the right road.

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