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A Suffolk sea scout troop is embarking on a period of major expansion in its 50th anniversary year, following a huge spike in its young persons waiting list during the pandemic.

 Leaders of 5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts have announced the launch of a new Scout section for 10-14 year olds as of February, and say they anticipate both a new Cubs section and Beavers group being ready to take entrants in the coming months.

To date, the troop has 110 young people on its regular attendance list, but a further 120 waiting for a vacancy.

The demand reached a peak during the height of Covid restrictions, with a greater waiting list than the Sea Scouts in Woodbridge had ever seen previously.

In a bid to respond to the interest, a further six leaders were recruited to the group, but more adult support staff will be needed as the year progresses.

Barrie Hayter, Group Scout Leader for 5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts, says the timing of the growth and changes at the troop, coincides with an exciting period of ambition and opportunity, in which he hopes it will finally be possible to extend the existing Scout facility at Woodbridge Quay.

“We really are entering such a busy and exciting time in our 50th year,” he said.

“We’ve responded to the built-up demand for places by recruiting more leaders and launching further sections, and we’re embarking on a major fundraising effort in a bid to create an extension to our current meeting venue.

“Our extension is going to involve the use of shipping containers, modified specifically for our purpose, and the work is being done in such a way that it will be really considerate to the community and cause as little disruption to our regular output of activities as possible.”

Also, in celebration of the troop’s 50th anniversary, each section has been asked to design part of a celebratory badge to mark the occasion. Alongside this, former scout members are being contacted to share video stories of their memories.

“We’ll have a lot going on throughout the coming months – much of which the community can get actively involved in,” added Barrie.

“On June 2nd we will be hosting a large-scale water based session, with current members participating in activities, and with members past and present asked to join us for a barbecue.”

“This is a real opportunity for us not only to celebrate the importance of scouting in young people’s lives – encouraging confidence, skills and relationship building – but also for us to applaud and thank the many organisations which have supported us throughout the years.”

“It’s not the easiest of undertakings to run a busy scout troop in a community for five decades, so we’re grateful to the likes of Community action Suffolk, East Suffolk District Council, District Councillor Yule, Woodbridge Town council and many other organisations who have supported us in so many ways – including recently enabling us to purchase new power boats and kayaks.”

“I would urge anyone remotely interested in scouting, wanting to be a volunteer, or just keen to learn more about ways they can help, to get in touch and take part in our busy year.”

Should anyone wish to get in contact about the building, fundraising, volunteering or celebrations please contact our Group Scout Leader Barrie Hayter gsl@5wss.org.uk