For some, including myself, the journey started on the Saturday, with a tour around the sights of London with the Scottish Scouts expedition, beginning at Baden-Powell House. Highlights included a trip on the London Eye, a visit to Buckingham Palace (where the sight of 20-odd fully-kilted Scottish scouts was almost as exciting to tourists as the changing of the guard) and the chance to see the famous black door of No.10 Downing Street.
We also bumped into some international visitors, Scouts from over 20 countries in the Commonwealth who had flown over specially to be part of Sunday's parade, in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The tour was a great opportunity to get to know the other award recipients from across Scotland, and to find out what different challenges we had all faced in gaining our awards. The weather was very Scottish all day, with no let up in the rain.
Sunday was the day of the parade, and we began the day with a coach ride from our London hotel to the Mews of Windsor Castle, where the fun began. Firstly we were sorted into our sections, and our uniforms were inspected (a nice change for those of us who are used to inspecting our own Scouts), then we were treated to a short, but motivating talk from the Chief Scout himself, Bear Grylls. We then were taken outside, where the weekend's rain saw no sign of abating, and had the unique experience of a crash course in marching from Her Majesty's drill instructors, our parade leader kept our spirits high and reminded us to feel proud as we marched. We were then informed that due to the extreme case of April showers (the wettest it had been since records began, we later found out), that the so-called 'wet-weather contingency' was to be implemented, which meant we would be doing our parading in ponchos.
After lunch, it was time to meet up again for the start of the parade. While we were waiting, to raise moral, the Scottish scouts decided that a rousing chorus of 'Singing in the Rain' was in order, however startling Her Majesty's finest horses, was frowned about, so the singing was unfortunately cut short, much to our amusement. We then formed into our sections ready for the parade itself. As section R we paraded last. We marched up through the lower ward of Windsor Castle, passing a crowd of spectators, and entered the quadrangle, which was absolutely packed with press, and spectators. As we got round to the dais, the order 'eyes right' was given, and we turned to face, Bear Grylls, giving us the scout salute, Prince Philip; and, of course, The Queen, who smiled down at all of us. It was a very proud moment for all of us. We then marched to St George's Chapel for the National Scout Service, where we all renewed our promise with the Chief Scout, who also gave us another inspiring speech, emphasising our achievement and making us feel that all the effort we had put in to gain our Queen Scout Award, had been worth it.
Afterwards, with a brief respite from the rain we were able to march back down to the mews. As we were at the back entering the Quadrangle, we were at the very front, behind the band and colour party on the way back down. I think most of us felt that this was the highlight of the whole trip, we marched, in full uniform, through the streets of Windsor, with crowds on either side of us, a band in front of us, and a seemingly endless stream of Scouts behind us. Overall, I would rate the weekend as being one of the best experiences I've ever had, I made some new friends, was made to feel very important, and gained some experiences I will remember for life.
I would encourage anybody who is able to complete their Queen Scout Award, and attend the parade, I've never felt prouder to be a scout.
Thanks to Euan Morris, Scout Leader, 24th Glasgow for submitting this story and pictures.Author: Gary Bainbridge