When Ray Aldous first joined the Scouts as a boy, he never imagined that 72 years later he would receive a royal nod for his life-long association
But last Tuesday, 83-year-old Ray was honoured to awarded his MBE by The Queen at Buckingham Palace. “I was over the moon, I just did not appreciate what had happened,” said Ray.
“It was wonderful. They made you feel so at ease. My daughters were sitting about three rows back and they were absolutely amazed – it was a great day for me.”
Retired sound technician Ray was born at Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex, and moved to Luton as a small boy when his father began work at the factory of George Kent Ltd.
He said: “I’ve been active with Scouting since 1952 when I first became a leader, but I was a member of the troupe when I was 11.
“At 18 I went to the army first and then the RAF and I thought that was the end of it.”
Ray was posted to Egypt and soon had a leadership position, leading a troupe of Scouts who were the sons of officers. He spent two years there with the RAF, and would take his troupe of Scouts on excursions into the desert ... which the boys loved.
“I was mindful of the fact they were the sons of my NCOs, but it didn’t matter too much. I got on well with everyone on the camp. I came back to this country and I rejoined a troupe that I was with. I was with that troupe for 20 years.”
Ray was then promoted to assistant district commissioner, and while in that role undertook many public speaking engagements on behalf of the Scouts, encouraging participation.
He said: “It’s very, very difficult, getting people to take on district roles. You’re then supervising nine or ten groups and I was with them for 20 years! What I enjoy best about the Scouts is seeing the kids in the groups achieving their objectives, getting their badges.”
Ray has always been a keen radio amateur, and provided many sections with their own small radio stations – which delighted the Scouts participating. And he is still thrilled about last week’s honours ceremony at the palace.
He said: “I was absolutely amazed at the care and consideration shown by the staff - the police on the ground and the ushers were all so attentive.
“The ceremony was superb. We had to wait as they called your name out in blocks of ten and The Queen was in attendance presenting all these awards. Most of the people were MBE holders but there were a number of higher awards, CBE and such like.”
Ray is still actively involved with the Scouts and volunteers several times a week at his troupe. He said: “We’ve got girls in every section nowadays, my old troupe now has as many girls in as boys. Times have changes, but it’s wonderful that they have!”
To volunteer with the Scouts, contact district commissioner Martin Wesley on 0844 414 2967.