Always prepared - the voice of Scouting retires after 45 years

Peter Sutherst who's retired as media manager of Bedfordshire Scouts
Peter Sutherst who's retired as media manager of Bedfordshire Scouts

Bedfordshire Scouts media manager Peter Sutherst is retiring after 45 years of service with the movement he joined as an 11-year-old boy.

But it was an inauspicious start.

“I was a right little tearaway,” he recalled. “My mother decided the best thing she could do was put me in an organisation that would curb me. I stuck it for a month.

“But I did become a little more angelic when I joined the local church choir and trained as a choral scholar to sing in Durham Cathedral.”

It wasn’t until a move to Luton many years later with his wife Cynth – who’d been a Brownie, Guide, Ranger and Pack Leader – that his Scouting interest was rekindled.

“Cynth was asked to help at a jumble sale and a year later was made Cub Scout Leader,” he explained. “I joined as secretary and once I’d got the bit between my teeth I went for it.”
The group was the 38th Luton (Putteridge) which was later amalgamated with two others to form the 200-strong 1st Someries (Luton).

Peter, 81, of Mount Grace Road, had been an aerial photographer with the RAF and Coastal Command before joining Kodak in 1960 where he became training and publications manager with responsibility for laboratory staff in the European region.

He graduated as an Associate of the British Institute of Professional Photographers in 1963 and was awarded a Fellowship for services to the industry when he retired in 1994.

He used his expertise and experience to great effect with the Scouts.

“I must have taken at least a thousand pics a year,” he said. “And I developed skills in publicity along the way.”

He penned his first press release in 1969 and has served under nine county commissioners.

He was twice chosen as UK Media Manager of the Year and there have been many highlights during his long Scouting career - among them the 1971 World Scout Jamboree in Japan and the Luton Centenary in 1976.

“It was held on Luton Town’s hallowed ground,” he smiled. “A marvellous venue for a keen Hatters fan like me.”

He’s also written part of the history of Bedfordshire Scouts and was behind the innovative 2010/2011 Bedfordshire Scouting annual review which was designed, written and produced by a group of teenage Scouts.

And in spite of the fact he’s officially retired, he and Cynth – who taught music at Putteridge Infants School for 43 years and was church organist at St Thomas’s in Stopsley – will continue to be involved.

She still runs the Scout shop at the Someries district HQ and together they’re working on an electronic version of the County archives.

In addition Peter is devoting his spare time to updating the history of groups in the county, how the Scouts coped with two World Wars and their involvement in 23 World Scout Jamborees.

He joked: “I feel as if I’ve spent two lifetimes supporting the Scouts – and there’s still more to do.

“Now Cynth and I are going to go on lots of little trips to all the places we’ve been promising ourselves, like Constable country. the North Yorkshire moors and the Scottish Highlands, if the Scots will let us in.”