Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Airstrikes killing Civilians

BFTF found his blood boilig as he read an article in The Guardian describing how, in complete contrast to US claims, airstrikes were killing many innocent civilians in Afghanistan.

A single quote from the story (written by a representive of the Reprieve charity) will suffice to explain what is happening:
"During the day I shook the hand of a 16-year-old kid from Waziristan named Tariq Aziz. One of his cousins had died in a missile strike, and he wanted to know what he could do to bring the truth to the west...Then, three days later, the CIA announced that it had eliminated "four militants". In truth there were only two victims: Tariq had been driving his 12-year-old cousin to their aunt's house when the Hellfire missile killed them both. This came just 24 hours after the CIA boasted of eliminating six other "militants" – actually, four chromite workers driving home from work. In both cases a local informant apparently tagged the car with a GPS monitor and lied to earn his fee."

Also read this article in the Independent on the "Living Under Drones" report by researchers at Stanford University. The researchers make a number of points, including:

Between 2004 and 2012 drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children.

Drones strike without warning, their presence terrorizes men, women, and children - and the US practice of striking one area multiple times, sometimes killing rescuers makes rescuers afraid to assist injured victims.

The report casts doubt on the legality of strikes on individuals or groups not linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, and who do not pose imminent threats to the US.
Most importantly, the report makes a series of recommendation, including:

Release the US Department of Justice memoranda outlining the legal basis for US targeted killing in Pakistan.

Make public the tar­geting criteria and the mechanisms to track and publicly recognize civilian casualties.

Ensure independent investigations into drone strike deaths, as called for by the UN Special Rapporteur.

BFTF sent emails to the local conservative party, the local (Labour) MP and to David Cameron (the latter being more in hope than in expectation) saying that the silence of the UK on this issue was unacceptable and was not in keeping with the values that BFTF thought the UK stood for. And asking whether killing innocent civilians decreases or increases the risk of radicalism in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Also sent emails to local masjids asking whether they could also lobby on this issue.

Local Conservative Party
Chased up on 8th Sep, 9th Oct(also asking how they were speaking out against "double tap" airstrike killings, 23rd Oct, 29th Oct. Finally received a response from Andrew Robathan MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces (via local Conservative party who had (BFTF understands) chased this up a number of times:

“It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the policy of United States government and I am unable to set out the specific circumstances in which insurgents of terrorists have been or would be targeted by UK Remotely Piloted Air Systems, as to do so could undermine operational security....... ...The selection and prosecution of all ISAF targets is based on a rigorous scrutiny process which is also compliant with International Humanitarian Law... ...Every effort is made to minimise the risk of collateral damage, particularly civilian causalities, which includes in some circumstances deciding not to engage the target...
Regarding the above communication from Andrew Robathan, BFTF sent the following back to the local Conservative party pointing out that they had failed to answer the two questions put to them :

Whether killing innocent civilians decreases or increases the risk of radicalism in Afghanistan and elsewhere?

What the Conservative Party was doing to speak out against the policy of "double tap" drone killings?
Local Labour MP
Chased up on 9th Oct, 23rd Oct, 29th Oct. Received response around 1st Nov saying that, although the MP had not been aware of the issue, they took it "very seriously", that the Labour Party had spoken out on the damamge that drones were causing to American/Pakistani relations and that the MP found the reports of strikes on first responders "deeply concerning".

The MP further stated that they had written to the Foreign Office to ask what representations had been made to the American Government on this issue and what assessment they had made of the practice.

Also received the following (via local MP) response from Government regarding "double tap" airstrikes. It essentially ignored the issue, the key part saying:

"The British Government's position is that the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles against terrorist targets is a matter for the states concerned. We expect all concerned to act in accordance with international law, including taking all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties when conducting military operations."

Also received a response referencing a Parliamentary question laid down by Tom Watson, Deputy Chair of the Labour Party and member of the Shadow Cabinet on 6th Nov 2012.

Tom Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department’s policy is on follow-up drone strikes; and what steps he is taking to ensure that rescue workers and people providing assistance to the injured are not targeted as part of such missions.

Andrew Robathan : Any weapon released by the UK’s Reaper remotely piloted air system is done so under the command of a pilot bounded by Rules of Engagement which are no different from those used for manned UK combat aircraft. The targets are always positively identified as legitimate military objectives, and strikes are prosecuted in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict and UK Rules of Engagement. Strikes should not be directed against non-combatants, including any individuals assisting the wounded or deceased, or individuals who are “hors de combat”.
and also referencing a very moving and passionate speech by Yasmin Queshi MP(LAB), part of a debate on unmanned aerial vehicles secured by Rehman Chisti MP:
Yasmin Queshi MP : ...I have constituents of Pakistani Kashmiri and Afghan heritage, and they have several times come to see me, and written many e-mails and letters to me, about drone attacks, especially as some of them have family members living in the relevant parts of Pakistan—Waziristan and other areas. They have told me in person about the effects of drone attacks. They ask, “How would you feel if you were asleep at night and suddenly you heard drone attacks—buildings being destroyed and people being killed: you would not know from day to day what would happen. One minute you are peacefully asleep in bed, and the next an attack is happening.” How would we like that—if people were asleep in Bolton, for example, and that were to happen, with the deaths of young children as well as adults, including old people. Much has been made of the shooting of young Malala, but there are many other young Malalas in that part of the world—and young boys, too, and families being destroyed...

... the evidence increasingly shows that drones are being targeted not at specific people but randomly, that they are being controlled, in America, not by the army but the CIA, and that there are successive strikes with more than one hit in the same place. That cannot be right. I am sorry if I sound very passionate about this, but thousands of innocent lives have been taken in Pakistan and Afghanistan—and in Yemen and elsewhere, although I do not have many constituents from there. I can talk more about Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the most intensive drone use has been.

There are ways to fight a battle, but we must abide by international law. I am grateful that an investigation is being carried out by the UN rapporteur on counter-terrorism, the British lawyer Ben Emmerson QC, on whether the use of drones is legal, and I wonder whether the Minister will also welcome that. If it is found that they are illegal, will we desist from using them in our campaign?...

Further Information
"DroneWars" - a site that contains information on drones and their use.


Dec 2012 : Why "drone attacks" is not a helpful term"
BFTF has spent quite a bit of time over the last six months challenging the local Conservative Party and local MP on the civilian killings and "double tap" airstrikes that are taking place in Afghanistan/Pakistan area. You can read about this, including the rather disappointing response from government, at the link below:

During this dialogue, BFTF used the phrase "drone attacks", not least because this was a label that was widely used in the media.

But this label is not helpful because it confuses two, very separate, issues

Issue 1 : The use of drones, per se.
BFTF understands the concerns regarding autonomously firing drones (which are not a reality at the time of writing) and of drone "pilots" behaving as though they were playing a video game, But it has also to be recongnised that, from a military point of view, drones are far, far cheaper, and can fly much for much longer than piloted aircraft - and do not put a human pilot in harms way. If BFTF was the head of an Air Force, using them would be the mother of all no-brainer decisions.

Issue 2 : What the drones are doing.
For BFTF it is the people who are dying in the missile strikes launched from the drones that are the real issue, and they would still be the issue if those missiles had come from piloted planes, or had been long range artillery.

BFTF's feels that concern should perhaps be focussed on the issues of target selection, confidence that the target is legitimate, elimination of injury, mutilation or death of innocent bystanders(1), and the damaging effects of "double tap" strikes.

Using terms such as "drone attacks" when challenging government or other institutions on what is being done in our name allows them to focus on Issue 1 rather than Issue 2 - and this is what happened, to a degree, in the response from the Government to BFTF's challenge.

So, from here on, BFTF will use simply use the term "missile strike", in the hope that this will help focus the attention where it should be - on what got hit.

(1) : Otherwise known as "collateral damage"


Oct 2012 : A recent report by researchers at Stanford Universtity entitled "Living Under Drones" (see summary at the end of this post) contained a section on the recent practice of "double tap" drone strikes, where people trying to rescue possible survivors of a first strike are hit by a second drone strike minutes later.

The report states that :

"... In a February 2012 joint investigative report, Chris Woods of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) documented that: of the 18 attacks on attacks on rescuers and mourners reported at the time by credible media, twelve cases have been independently confirmed by our researchers. In each case civilians are reported killed...

...Those interviewed for this report were acutely aware of reports of the practice of follow-up strikes, and explained that the secondary strikes have discouraged average civilians from coming to one another’s rescue, and even inhibited the provision of emergency medical assistance from humanitarian workers.

...One interviewee told us that a strike at the home of his in-laws hit first responders: “Other people came to check what had happened; they were looking for the children in the beds and then a second drone strike hit those people.” A father of four, who lost one of his legs in a drone strike, admitted that, “[w]e and other people are so scared of drone attacks now that when there is a drone strike, for two or three hours nobody goes close to [the location of the strike]...

...Crucially, the threat of the “double tap” reportedly deters not only the spontaneous humanitarian instinct of neighbors and bystanders in the immediate vicinity of strikes, but also professional humanitarian workers providing emergency medical relief to the wounded. According to a health professional familiar with North Waziristan, one humanitarian organization had a “policy to not go immediately [to a reported drone strike] because of follow up strikes. There is a six hour mandatory delay.” ...

...The dissuasive effect that the “double tap” pattern of strikes has on first responders raises crucial moral and legal concerns. Not only does the practice put into question the extent to which secondary strikes comply with international humanitarian law’s basic rules of distinction, proportionality, and precautions, but it also potentially violates specific legal protections for medical and humanitarian personnel, and for the wounded. As international law experts have noted, intentional strikes on first responders may constitute war crimes." (emphasis BFTF's)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, BFTF will be challenging the local Conservative Party on why the UK's closest ally is routinely performing what may well be war crimes. The outcomes of this will be posted on the original "Drones Killing Civilians" post.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Well Done Martha Payne

Late yesterday evening, BFTF saw a tweet saying that Atgyll and Bute Council had banned a blog about school dinners called NeverSeconds, run by nine-year -old Martha Payne.

BFTF wandered over to NeverSeconds and found it be an immensely completely charming site, and was very impressed by the initiative and creativity Martha was showing.

Impressively, the site also gave visitors the opportunity to donate to the Marymeals charity, who set up school feeding projects in some of the world's poorest communities.

Feeling something of a red mist descending, BFTF fired off a couple of tweets to the A&B council telling them the the initiative and creativity Martha was showing was something that this country needs too see more of, not less.

24hrs later and BFTF was chuffed to find that it had been part of a campaign that had resulted in the council changing their mind completely and reversing the ban on NeverSeconds - as described in this article.

The whole thing was a fascinating example of the power of social media. BFTF wondered whether this was something that the Muslim community should have been supportive of, and hopes to as a few Imams for their views of this. . .

Will post responses as BFTF gets them.

NB : No2 son contributed the word "immensely" to the above post, as BFTF was having trouble finding the right word to use.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

UNCLE and Proud

It is interesting to see how different cultures appraoch the problem of how to address a stranger, especially someone who is older than you.

The traditional British refrain, made famous by many a black and white movie, is to call them "Mister" or "Sir" (or "Miss" and "Ma'am" if female), alternatively the issues may be dodged slightly by using the words "Excuse me" and hoping that the person in question knows that they are the target of your communication.

But in the south asian community, it works a little differently.

Here, it is all about respect for elders (and BFTF means that in an entirely good way). The rule is very simple.

When talking to someone your own age you call them "Brother" or "Sister".

When talking to someone more than 10-15years older than you, you call them "Uncle" or "Auntie".

. If you are on the receiving end and don't want to be called "Uncle" because it makes you feel old. Tough.

BFTF (who is old enough to remember when colour TV was a novelty) mentions this now because it has become apparant over the last few years that, when served in shops, he is becoming less likely to be addressed as a "Brother" and more likely that he will be called "Uncle". After a few attempts at saying "Hey, I'm not old enough to be an Uncle", BFTF has resigned himself to the fact that this is a tide that it not going to be turned back and that some kind of peace needs to be made with the new designation (which, dissapointingly, does not seem to come attached with a discount on the price of the goods being bought).

So, dear reader, it's ok, you can call me "Uncle" and I'm cool with that.

UPDATE : 10th June 2012

A number of people have pointed out that this post should really be entitled "Uncle Gee and Proud" as the suffix "Gee" if often used as a maek of respect. Whilst this is true in cases where the two people know each other well and in a family context, in BFTF's experience it is plain vanilla "Uncle" that is used when addressing a stranger or someone that is not well known.

The possible exception to this is when trying to persuade an oldster that they are just plain wrong on some point or other, as in "Uncle Gee, I know Pepsi is on offer at Sainsburys, but that store is 5 miles away and you are driving a big Merc, so it'll cost more in petrol that you'll save."

Note : This article has also been published in The Invitation magazine.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Talk : The Euro Crisis

Having attended some of the Café Scientifique Nottingham events over the last year or some, and found then very interesting, BFTF was intrigued to see a link to an event from the related MeetUp Café Economique entitled, simply “Euro Crisis” which was a talk on the current Euro Crisis by Brian Davey who is aa member FEASTA, an organisation involved in developing sustainable economic solution to real world problems .

The talk was very interesting, and accompanied by a wealth of interesting data and charts. Happily, the entire presentation can be found at the Café Economique Wordpress page here.

This post contains a short and a long report on the talk. The short version is shown below:

We’re doomed.

And here is the long version.

Brian began by outlining the context for the current crisis. There were four factors he felt were important.

1) Growth constraints
-high energy, food, material costs

2) Growing Power of the Global Finance Sector
-lots of money looking for safe havens and gambling on economic outcomes, increase in FIRE economy relative to manufacturing

3) Uneven development between nations unbalancing the global economy
- e.g. China, vs USA and Crisis within Eurozone

4. Ageing society in “developed” countries
– more and more elderly people dependent on pensions from the finance sector

Brian suggested that, from 2001 to 2007, fiscal deficits in the Eurozone were not high compared to the UK and the US but that there were very large trade imbalances, with Germany being a very large net exporter. (It is worth noting that the Eurozone limit on budget deficits is 3%, and Greece has exceeded that for pretty much all of the last 10 years)

The problem was that the countries on the periphery of the Eurozone (e.g. Greece) could not devalue their currencies to regain competitiveness with the German economy - and could not print money to pay off their debts (the Maastrich treaty specifically bans this)

As credit agencies began downgrading these peripheral counties they faced higher interest rates on their debt,
which resulted in higher taxes on the population
which resulted in people spending less
which resulted in manufacturing and service companies going bust and people getting laid off
which resulted in the government getting less tax revenue
which resulted in higher taxes on the remaining population
and so on. . .

Meanwhile, banks fear bankruptcy and a domino chain of failures as state bonds are downgraded and their assets lose value.

The proposed solution
Brian explained that the current “solution” involves the European Central Bank conjuring up money out of thin air which it then lends to banks at 1% (say) interest. The banks then lend this back to the European Structural Stability Fund at 2-3% (say) interest, and it is this ESSF that bails out the countries on the periphery of the Eurozone.

The End-Game
According to Brian we could be in a position like that of Argentina in 2002, when that country defaulted on its debts. The dire situation there saw the formation of workers co-opertives and even local currencies as a means of surviving when many financial structures had simply stopped working.

And the fact that many of the struggling Eurozone countries owe a large proportion of their debt to German banks means that we may see a Europe where the national infrastructure and assets of Eurozone counties end up being owned by Germany.

Some Personal Comments
Whilst much of the talk make sense, BFTF had the constant feeling that there were alternative viewpoints to some of the data being presented. For example, oil prices shot up in 2008, but then dropped very low soon after - what’s to say the same won’t happen now? How does gas- an increasingly plentiful fuel - affect future trends? What about renewable? Or the effect of the economic down turn itself (reduced economic activity dramatically reduced oil prices due to reduced demand)

But still, it was an interesting talk and BFT certainly recommends that you read the original slides - and then do some research on your own !

Saturday, 2 June 2012

92nd Nottingham Scout Group

A post describing some of the stuff the 92nd Nottingham Scout Group get up to! (more on Notts Scouts here)

May 2014 : Another trip to Walesby, with many other Scout groups

The Mayor Of Nottingham arrived and met all the
different Notts Scout Groups (love the wellies by the way)

Awards to the most special of Nottingham's Scouts including (but not shown)
Sr "Ash" , a member of the 92nd who received her Scout training certificate

Of course, all the ususal Scouty activities as well

April 2014 : Some outdoorsy pictures
Some pictures from a variety of recent camping trips etc:

Getting ready for some high wire activity

Some of the 92nd Scout Group!

"Crikey, what have I let myself in for!

Although it may not look like it at this stage, it did eventually become a tent

RoboScout, the future of young adventuring...

A raft under construction

Mar 2014 : World Book Day!
For World Book Day, some of the Scouts did a rather clever thing - they each started a story, then passed it to the next scout to them who added a bit more before passing it to the scout next to them...and so on. So at the end of the session, there were six stories, to which each of the scouts had contributed. The Scout leader has kindly allowed BFTF to print one of the stories here...

THE EVIL VACUUM by the 92nd Nottingham Scouts

Once upon a time there was a boy called Jimmy. He was in love with his Dyson, but little did he know it was evil!!! One day he brought it out from it's hidey hole and pluggged it in. It roared to life. Hoovering a giant dust bunny, something happened. The Dyson went crazy and began to hoover up Jimmy. He screamed for help but it was no use. Jimmy was gone...

....To his surprise be found himself in the Dyson, a brand new world. He went on amazing adventures to different parts of the Dyson...

...But, of course, he thought it was stupid, and he wanted to get out. He tried speaking in French, "Je suis tres cool". He tried burping (that's what they did in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!) He tried dancing, boogying around. He tried blowing the most amount of balloons he could. But now it got to him...He had to FART his way out. OFF. He could feel his bum carrying him away...

...He was in a weird space time zone. Dun Dun Dun : "I'm in farting space". Bang - what was that? It was...a fart! He was approaching the land of Scotland. Everyone existing there stated fainting and feeling sick.

Mar 2014 : Various activities
A bunch of stuff from recent months that never got to the blog at the time...

Food tasting at a Scout "Ready Steady Cook" event

Setting up a tent on a camping trip

Making a raft on a camping trip

At the Library

Jan 2014 : Bag packing at Asda
Very early January 2014 saw the 92nd Scouts Group fundraise £357 by bag packing at Asda Hyson Green. No3 Son was part of the team and commented that "Most of the people I packed for were kind and polite....I met a Brownie leader who asked about my Sherebrook toggle...At the end of the day I felt good because I had helped more people than I expected...About a third of the people I met let me pack their bags but the majority of people donated...I discoverd that I pack bags quite quickly!"

One of the 92nd Scout Group bag packers in (very cheerful) action!

Big thanks to Asda Hyson Green for facilitating this event - which, aside from the fundraising aspect, has a number of social benefits for the scouts and in terms of building community cohesion.

And of course to the Scout leaders for putting together a complicated schedule describing which Scouts were wanted at ASDA at what specific times!

BFTF sent an email to Angie (Community Life Champion at Asda Hyson Green) to say thank you, and also a Tweet to Asda saying the same!...

...and a bunch of Tweets saying "Thank You" to the wonderful residents of Hyson Green for being so kind and supportive of the 92nd Scouts Groups efforts!

Thanks for the opportunity Asda!

Autumn 2013 Part 1
How the Scout Leaders manage to organise so much cool stuff is something that BFTF is always amazed at, and the Autumn 2013 session was no exception to this.

Hightlights included orienteering in Forest Park (in the dark !), with one of the scout leaders commenting that the girls seemed to be much better at this that the boys because they focussed on the task at hand while the boys tended to get distracted.

A trip to Wallesby Scout Camp also featured for the Beavers, in which they had the chance to take part in activitied such as archery.

A visit by the Police to the cubs gave them the opportunity to sit in a Police car - with the flashing lights on (hopefully not something they will have to do again)

While another hit was a session of Laser Tag at Quasar in Nottingham.

Laser Tag - Red Team

Laser Tag - Blue Team

Autumn 2013 Part 2
After the move to the Pakistan Centre (bless the team there for being so welcoming!) the goodstuff continued, with multiple outings and a visit by "Uncle BMX" from Forest Fields to show the kids how to fix bikes.

"Uncle BMX" from Forest Fields shows the Scouts how to fix a puncture

A feeling for how much hard work and imagination the team leaders put into the Scout Group can be gained from looking at what was happening on just one day - 28th November:
One group was playing football
Another group was making glove puppets for their creativity badge
Yet another group was learning sign language for their communications badge
While a futher group was thinking about the difficulties faced by disabled, especially blind people.

Learning Sign Language

OMG! Cute Hand Puppets !


Spring / Summer 2013
Spring 2013 brought, amongst much else, a camping trip for the scouts.

And Summer 2013 included presentations by Dr Sam Tang on chemistry and Professor (!!) Paul Nathanail on geology and, at the request of the 92nd Scout leaders, also on on knots!

One of the Scout leaders said that Sam and Paul (who held their demonstrations on different weeks) really got the full attention and interest of the children, and that they were much quieter that might have been expected at school.

Whilst collecting No1 and No3 sons from Scouts a couple of weeks later, BFTF was charmed to see that the kids had made ginormous "Thank You" cards for Sam and Paul...

Paul Nathanail demonstrating knots

A Thannk You card for Paul

A Thank You card for Sam

There was also some rather nifty marching going on...

Its all gone a bit Dad's Army.... !

And here the Scouts were playing with the foam generated by a lump of dry ice subliming in a tub of warm soapy water. As you do....

Dry Ice + Warm Soapy Water = Cool !

Schedule for Autumn 2012
Well done to the volunteers at the 92nd Scout Group for organising a suberb set of activities for the Autumn 2012 term!

Global Challenge Activity Badge
06-Sep : Practice Drills.
13-Sep : The traditions of Turkey.
20-Sep : About the "Save The Children" charity.
27-Sep : Global Issues : Poverty/Disability - what can we do to help?
04-Oct : Visitor : GPS Navigation - how can it be used and what is its history.
11-Oct : Arts and Crafts - Eid Cards.
18-Oct : River Trent Cruise and Party ~(£3 per sperson)

Animal Carer Activity Badge
01-Nov : Night Walk to record wildlife.
08-Nov : About the "Wildlife Trust" charity.
11-Nov : Visit to Stonebridge Farm.
15-Nov : Visitor : Pets At Home - rules of pet care and types of fish.
22-Nov : Games Night
29-Nov : Arts and Crafts - Danger in the Countryside.
06-Dec : Arts and Crafts - Danger in the Countryside (continued).
13-Dec : Party and Games at Forest Park.


Reduce, Re-use and Recycle postser designed by the Scouts
If you want to help the 92nd Scout Group be all it can be - please volunteer! Just an hour every week - if given with reliability - can make a big difference.

And the more volunteers they have, the better a service they can give, the more kids they can give places to and the more effort they can put into planning exciting activities.

Are you playing your part in creating a strong society by volunteering? If not, here is your chance!

Ultimate Frisbee (14 Jun 2012)
This week, the 92nd Scouts Group got a visit from the University of Nottinghams' Ultimate Frisbee team. The team, with seemingly endless enthusiasm, taught the Scouts how best to throw, catch(apparantly, one should sandwich the frisbee between both hands) and pass a frisbee. No3 sons comment : "Interesting"

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, Its Ultimate Frisbee!

Trip to the Tennis Centre (14 Jun 2012)
Taking advantage of the Nottingham Tennis Centre's "Festival of Tennis", the 92nd Scout Goup took a trip to the centre and had the chance to watch some professional tennis and take part in some tennis traing sessions. It really was non-stop action with No3 Son commenting "It was amazing"
Hit that ball onto one of the targets!

Jubilee Party (07 Jun 2012)
Jubille fever hits the 92nd Scout group this week, with a special Jubilee party ! Food, entertainment and a disproportionate number of balloons were there!
Union Jack Balloons proved tricky to find - so this was the next best thing!

Party = cakes

Liiter Picking and the Global Challenge(26 Apr 2012)
Today the 92nd Scout Group embarked on their "Global Challenge" badge. The Beavers were taking part in a quiz about countries and their capitals (did you know that the capital of Angola is Luanda?), while the Cubs and Scouts were litter picking in Forest Park.
Gloved hands and carrier bags all set for litter picking !

St George's Day March (21 Apr 2012)
The weather held off just long enough for a great St Georges Day parade in Nottingham City Centre. The 92nd Scout group were able to put their marching practice into. . .er. . .practice. The Scouts undertook a circular march from the Castle, around the market square and back to the Castle for a group promise. Good effort small people!
Some of the 92nd Scout Group marching together (ish) at the St George's Day Parade

Preparing for St Georges Day parade(19 Apr 2012)
Today the 92nd Scout group, including the younger beavers and cubs, spent time preparing for the St Georges Day march on Saturday 21st April as they will be marching alongside all the other scout groups in Nottingham before participating in a scout event at Nottingham Castle. But to march alongside others, you first need to learn to march - and teaching this skill was the task that the volunteer scout leaders had set themselves.

Yaseen, one of the Scout leaders, started with the basics by asking the Scouts to stand side by side in a line and then to walk across the hall while staying in formation.

How hard can that be? Surprisingly hard, as it turns out.

Between the differences in stride length amongst the Scouts and the hard-wired urge of the youngest ones to run instead of walking, it was a surprisingly tough task. Once the Scouts had started to make progress, it was time to take things to the next level and soon Yaseen had the Scouts responding well to “By the left quick march!”, “Group Halt!” and even “Atten…SHUN” (at which the Scouts were to stamp their left foot in unison).

The Scouts also spend some time preparing “St Georges Shields” for the march.

BFTF wishes them well for Saturday !

"By the left quick march. . . . . group Halt !"

Visit to the Theatre Royal, Nottingham (12 Apr 2012)

The Easter break saw the 92nd Scout group taking a really interesting trip around the innards of the Theatre Royal in Nottingham. Guided by David Longford and Caroline Pope from the theatre's education department, the scouts were taken on trip through time and space as David and Caroline described the history of the theatre and also took the youngster, literally, behind the scenes.

David and Caroline had a very interactive style and asked lots of questions of the youngsters, whose responses were fascinating. Aware that a "back-up" actor was called an "understudy", they quizzed David on what would happen if all the actors and all the understudys were ill, to which David had to admit that the play would probably be cancelled.

On the other hand, when asked which Queen was on the throne when the theatre was built in 1865, it took the clue that the monarch was known for wearing black before the wee ones chirped up "Victoria".

Some of the 92nd Scouts Group at the Theatre Royal

Queen Victoria, apparently best known for looking a bit like a goth. . .

Rounders in the Park (29th Mar 2012)

Taking advantage of the gorgeous weather, the 92nd Scout group were playing rounders on Forest Park today. It proved to be a really noisy event! The cubs, scouts and beavers really enjouyed themselves and there was plenty of "audience participation" from the scout leaders as they gave advice on whether the youngsters should stay or run to the next base. Indeed, it was almost like a surreal version of "Have you got your cards right" with "get back" and "run" replacing the "higher" and "lower" that the audience called out on Brucies famous show.

Rounders - its like cricket but without the boring bits. . .

The Spring 2012 Programme

Thought it might be nice to show just how varied their programme of activities is by listing what the Cubs managed to get through in the Spring2012 term :
Rucksack packing for camping - getting ready for the Summer Camp
Visit from Nottinghamshire Constabulary (they liked the Police's armour!)
Making a Bird Feeder
Making Jacket Potatoes
Talent Show Night (No3 son was, apparently, a rapper!!)
Design and Decorate a Biscuit
Learn two knots - getting ready for Summer Camp
Visit a Fire Station (they got to use the Firehose!!)
Visit to a Synagogue
Labelling parts of a Mosque
Themes around the Scout Promise
Entertainer Badge


If you are a young person, this is something great for your CV.
If you are doing the DoE, this is a great way to fulfil your volunteering section.
If you work in the youth or social work fields, this is a great opportunity to get training related to your area.
If you are a parent, you probably already have the skills required.
If you are scared, no not worry, the National Scouts Association trains all the volunteers.
If you want to help make the next generation all they can be, this is your chance.
To find out more, contact Sr. Saida on 07932 275127

Image Sources:
Queen Victoria