Scout turnout in Fernhurst is biggest ever

More than 100 Polish scouts from London arrived in Fernhurst last weekend (August 25 and 26) for their biggest-ever annual camping event in the village.

Scouting was started in Fernhurst 1908 by landowner Anthony Hollist, just a year after Lord Baden Powell founded scouting in England.

It was pure coincidence that Polish scouts, this year celebrating their 65th anniversary, should have knocked on the front door of Anthony Hollist’s grandson, Robin Barnes, decades later, and asked if they could camp in the fields.

Mr Barnes and his wife Carla were delighted to help, because of their connection with scouting, and Carla’s connection with Polish refugees when she was growing up in Leicestershire after the war.

They have provided the space, a water pipe and wood for cooking in the fire pit ever since and last week were delighted to welcome more Polish visitors than ever before who camped in five fields around the village.

They put up their ex-military heavy canvas tents over timber frames for sleeping, cooking and eating; built their own beds and shelving to keep all their belongings off the damp ground, dug fire pits and finally built an entrance gate, a flagpole and a small chapel where the strongly-catholic groups held their services.

A spokesman for the Polish scouts told the Observer: “The weeks in Fernhurst, for many from inner London are the only time they see the countryside with fields and animals and hear the noises of the night with foxes, deer and badgers in close proximity.”

He added: “It is also the only time they have to cook and wash up and are without television and their computers although they do have their phones.”

During their camping week the scouts are working towards badges including survival skills, team work, leadership self-sufficiency and Polish history, this year concentrating on the role of the Polish fighter squadrons in the war.

They are also taking part in visits, hikes, and scout get-togethers when all five groups meet up for team games in one field while remembering they are Polish and speaking Polish at all times.