This year marks the 200th anniversary of Dr David Livingstone, explorer and missionary, who was born in Blantyre Scotland and Clyde Region's very own 'Livvy Scouts' from Blantyre were lucky to be invited to help mark the occassion in a very special way, at a commemorative service on David Livingstone's birthday, 19th March, within Westminster Abbey, London. David Livingstone's body is buried within Westminster Abbey and his heart is buried in Malawi, so this was a fitting location for this service.
There were a lot of things to be organised if the trip was to be a success so the planning started in earnest. The Scouts were asked to undertake the formal role of organising and seating the guests at the service and they all wanted to make the 'London trip' a success.
It was going to be an expensive venture but they met this challenge head on! Fund-raising took place to facilitate the trip and the Scouts completed a 24hr cycle, covering 600 miles. There were many tired faces during the night but in true Scout fashion spirits were high as the goal was focused on. Many local businesses and individuals contributed to assist with costs and the Group are grateful to them for their generosity. Without them we would not have made it and it is fair to say that community spirit is alive and well in Blantyre.
The Group received their invites to this historical event in the post. Not only were they to assist with the smooth running of service but they were also invited to the civic reception within Dover House, the Scotland Office where they would be joining President Banda of Malawi, Lord Jack McConnell, Michael Moore MP and local MP Tom Greatrex, a distinguished line-up for the day.
On departure day, the Scouts said their goodbyes and excitedly boarded the train at Blantyre for the start of their journey, bound for London Euston. It was at that time that the most hair raising part of the journey occurred, namely getting 6 Scouts and 2 leaders safely aboard the underground! A quick pit-stop to freshen up and change into Scout uniform and it was off to Westminster Abbey where there were security checks to be negotiated before heading inside.
What a spectacular sight it was and there was a real air of excitement as the Scouts were briefed on their tasks for the afternoon and what was about to happen.
'They set about their tasks in an exemplary manner; polite, professional, proud and looking incredibly smart in their uniforms,' said Cub Scout Leader Chris, 'it was testament to the way the Scouts conducted themselves by the many positive comments and conversations that were received on completion of the service.'
Next stop after the service was Dover house where inside, there was a great atmosphere and another different environment for the Scouts to enjoy. Speeches were made, David Livingstone's legacy congratulated and hopes for the future were discussed. On completion of the reception the Group were afforded the honour of having their photograph taken with President Banda, before heading out for a celebratory McDonalds!
Following a well earned rest, the next morning the Group enjoyed the hospitality of Tom Greatrex MP on a guided tour of Parliament and then headed out for some sightseeing at The London Eye, The London Dungeons and a a tour of London aboard a WW2 landing craft which included a dip in the river Thames.
Commenting on the trip, Chris continued 'we had a fantastic time in London and were privileged to have represented our local community and Scouting at this historical event. Thanks again to all who assisted us with our trip, financially and otherwise - without your help it would not have been possible.'