Scout organiser Chris has never slept under canvas

'CARAVAN, caravan, caravan' - Norjam 2010 chairman Chris Hargest's three camping essentials.While Chris is quite happy to organise an activity-packed week this summer which will see 5,100 Scouts and Guides living in tents on the Norfolk Showground, supported by 1,000 staff, he cheerfully admits that life under canvas is not for him.

'CARAVAN, caravan, caravan' - Norjam 2010 chairman Chris Hargest's three camping essentials.

While Chris is quite happy to organise an activity-packed week this summer which will see 5,100 Scouts and Guides living in tents on the Norfolk Showground, supported by 1,000 staff, he cheerfully admits that life under canvas is not for him.

'I've never been camping and I was thrown out of Cubs when I was a boy - I didn't like authority,' confessed Chris, 63, who also chaired the last Norjam, in 2006.

It was back in 2003 when Richard Butler, county Scout commissioner, asked Chris if he could help with a little job. Chris was then a fellow Aylsham Rotarian.


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That 'little job' turned out to be running the equivalent of a small town packed with international young residents for a week.

Perhaps Richard recognised the resourcefulness and determination of a man who threw in a job as a sales rep and became a milkman so that he could care for his first wife who suffered from multiple sclerosis.

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When she died, leaving Chris with two young children, he started his own window-cleaning business, knocking on doors to build up custom. Eventually Chris was employing about 30 people and had over two dozen office-cleaning contracts.

He also met and married Elizabeth and 10 years ago they moved from Maidenhead to North Walsham, having become smitten with north Norfolk during weekend visits.

Chris sold his Berkshire business and bought an established window-cleaning round in North Walsham.

As Norjam approaches Chris packs in about 15-20 weekly hours chairing meetings and dealing with administration, but he is keen to acknowledge the work of fellow Norjam directors and others.

He said: 'I really admire all the adults at the sharp end who are there every week, go camping with the kids and run the programme. It's those people who keep Scouting and Guiding going.'

Norjam 2010 will include some 100 on and off-site activities including scuba-diving, an X Factor-style competition, It's a Knockout games, kayaking, and crafts. There will also be fireworks, a pink day celebrating Girl Guiding's centenary, and local bands.

Meanwhile Chris and his team are making sure everything will be ready, including 30 portable buildings, 40 marquees, telephones and other communication systems, security, medical cover, catering, transport and the all-important plumbing.

'We have a very enthusiastic 'bog squad' who keep the toilets and showers clean and topped up with the thousands of toilet rolls we have to order,' said Chris, who still finds time to take a lead role in an important North Walsham project.

He is chair of the steering committee working to open an information point at Easter for tourists and residents, in the New Road council offices.

Once Norjam is over and the information office established, Chris hopes there will be more time for hobbies, including playing darts for the Vernon Arms, at Southrepps, and one day he plans to resume the Open University Humanities degree he had to abandon when life's many 'little jobs' got in the way.

What's the best thing about your job?

'Going round and meeting people. A lot of customers have become my friends.'

…and the worst?

'The weather! I can't work if it's raining or snowy.'

What alternative career might have interested you?

'I really enjoyed being a sales rep and I was quite good at it. I think I've got the gift of the gab - although I don't regret giving it up.'

Favourite book, film and TV programme?

Book: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak; film: Once Upon A Time in America; TV: 'something classic like Only Fools and Horses.'

Favourite place in Norfolk?

'Cley. I used to do a lot of birdwatching and I'd like to do more one day.'

What song or piece of music would you take to a desert island?

'The song Dove sei by Handel. It's beautiful. I don't understand the words but it's relaxing and calming.'

If you had �10,000 to give a good cause what would you do with it?

'I'd put it in the building fund for North Walsham Scouts' new headquarters. I'd like to see that built within five years' (Chris is also chairman of North Walsham Scouts).

What's man's greatest invention?

'Electricity - without things like TV, lighting, mobiles and central heating we'd grind to a halt.'

Tescos in north Norfolk towns: yes or no?

'No, because they are bleeding some independent shopkeepers. You'll find much better food on sale in local butchers, bakers and greengrocers but places like Sainsbury's encourage people to do a one-stop shop.'

Pet hates?

'Cats that do their business in your garden. Why should they have a 'right to roam' when dogs and horses don't?'

What would you eat for a real treat?

'Sweetbreads, or fresh Norfolk asparagus.'

What qualities did your parents give you?

'Whatever is intolerant about me came from my mother. My father gave me a greater share of tolerance and taught me that other people are just as important as you are. I like helping people and seeing them smile.'

What would be your ideal holiday?

'A little cottage in the mountains of mid-Italy, sight-seeing and spending time with 'er indoors.'

Global warming - myth or reality?

'Reality, definitely.'

Jeremy Clarkson - for Prime Minister or Transportation?

'Transportation. The man's too full of himself, like Jonathan Ross.'

Football or cricket?

'I like both but I prefer the culture of cricket. I was born in Slough and grew up supporting Arsenal, but now it's Norwich City.'

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