On Friday 1st March 1908 Alan Joseph Emery became the first Scout in Hertfordshire, pledging his oath to Scouts in his home at 128 Estcourt Road, Watford.
Exactly 111 years later – to the day – a blue plaque was unveiled on the property, to mark the birth of Scouting in the county. The event was attended by the Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor, Watford Borough Council Chairman Rabi Martins, members of Hertfordshire Scouts and several members of Alan’s family.
Alan Emery dedicated much of his life to Scouting. He formed the Kangaroo Patrol with his friend, Merchant Scrivener, which became part of the 1st SW Herts Troop and he made his promise at the age of 13. In 1909 the Kangaroo Patrol were given some Army issue bell tents and they held their first camp at The Clays on Watford Heath. Shortly after he was presented with a King’s Scout award.
A year after he joined Scouts Alan started work full time at London and North Western Railway, and at the age of 18 Alan became an Assistant Scoutmaster. His Scout leadership was interrupted in 1915 when he was drafted into the army and called to serve in France with the Royal Engineers Railway Unit. During this time local Boy Scouts were assisting with many vital duties, including home defence and farm work, and night shifts at the police station.
After the war Alan and his brother Dennis resumed their duties as local Scout Leaders, including forming a Rover Scout crew. He later became District Commissioner for South West Herts until 1953 when he was appointed President for South West Herts Scouts, a role which he held until his death in 1972.
After the plaque was unveiled and photos had been taken outside 128 Estcourt Road a reception was held at the Holiday Inn, where an impressive exhibition was on display, telling the story of Alan’s journey through the Scout movement and the history of Scouting in South West Hertfordshire and Watford.
During the event speeches were made by Liz Walker – County Commissioner for Hertfordshire Scouts, Frank Brittain – Archivist for Hertfordshire Scouts, Peter Taylor – Mayor of Watford and Rabi Martin – Watford Borough Council Chairman.
County Commissioner Liz Walker spoke about the Scout promise. Referring to a national news article this week during her speech, she said “You may have seen the press yesterday about one more thing that we do – in fact which is really right up there in the duty to others. I’m Proud that 9 in 10 UK adults believe that Scouts help young people develop active listening skills, contributing to a more cohesive society – we must use our Skills For Life to make a better society and community around us – as our founder [Lord Baden Powell] said “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it, and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate, you have not wasted your time but have done your best”.
“Thank you to Alan Emery for doing his best and thank you to all of you for what you are all doing and continue to do for our future.”