8th Worthing Sea Scout Group
S.S.S. Osprey - Royal Navy Unit 59
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Barrie Edward Fitzgerald

17 September 1946 - 24 January 2005

MUCH MISSED: Well-known Tarring Cub leader dies after short illness

Tributes flow for Scouting stalwart, 58

WORTHING'S Scouting community was this week mourning the sudden death of one of its most popular leaders.

Barrie Fitzgerald, Cub Scout leader of 8th Worthing Starboard Cub Pack, died in Worthing Hospital on Monday morning, just days after undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. He was 58 years old and had only been diagnosed in December.

Friends and fellow Scouting colleagues, Maureen and Brian Ashfield, led the tributes this week, saying: "People say that Scouting is on the way out but it won't be all the time we get leaders like Barrie Fitzgerald. He was amazing."

Mr Fitzgerald, a father of two from Tarring, first got involved in the local Scouting movement through his young son, Robert. He had been the leader of the 8th Worthing Starboard Cub Pack, based in Tarring, for 20 years and had seen hundreds of children, aged between eight and ten-and-a-half, join the Scouts. Last year he received the Medal of Merit for distinguished service and had also received many long-service awards.

A plumber by trade, Mr Fitzgerald organised all his Cub pack's camps and dinners.

Honorary Scouter and friend, Mr Ashfield, 74, from Durrington, said: "Barrie is what Scouting is all about.

"The kids loved him. He could hold the attention of 30 kids telling them the story of the Jungle Book for hours and these are kids who are used to playing with PlayStations."

Mrs Ashfield, an Honorary Scouter and assistant Cub Scout leader for 8th Worthing, said: "Barrie first became involved because his son was a Scout and they did not have anybody to run the football team. He is irreplaceable and he will be so sorely missed. If you wanted help with anything, all you had to do was ask Barrie. He was involved in all the district events, from chess to the Gang Shows and everything in between.

"The kids came every week. They didn't just show up on the odd occasion, they came every week and that's a reflection of the kind of leader that he was. They loved him. He was a lovely man and was such a character."

Mr Ashfield added: "Barrie would want his group to go from strength to strength and we will do all we can to make sure it does."

Mr Fitzgerald is survived by his wife, Jackie, son, Robert and daughter, Jo.

I first met Barrie 24 years ago when I was a Cub Scout at 8th Worthing Starboard Pack. His son, Rob, had recently joined and Barrie had volunteered to coach the Pack’s football team. We were all sitting on the bench in the headquarters and Barrie was waiting for volunteers to form the team. I remember nervously trying to avoid eye contact with him and hoping that I would not be picked – I never really liked football!

After I moved on to Scouts both my younger brothers were still in the Pack – they loved football and were both in the team. I remember Barrie saying how another Leader had accused him of using a player who was too old, and how he had great pleasure in informing them that the player (my youngest brother) was only 8 and the youngest in the team – he was very tall though!

Barrie became more and more involved with Starboard Pack and stayed on after Rob moved on to Scouts. He became an Assistant Cub Scout Leader 21 years ago then 4 years later took over as Akela and retained this appointment throughout. While he was busy with the Pack he also helped out at the Troop. I remember him transporting kit to our Summer Camps in his work’s truck. This was typical of Barrie – he was always ready to help others.

I remember Barrie helping at District Cub events, especially the It’s A Knockout where he got me very wet one year! He later took over and ran this event and gradually become involved in helping with most of the District events including Rounders. He encouraged me to run a District Rounders competition for Scouts and even paid for a new trophy.

I remember as a young Leader with Starboard Troop, when Den told us he wanted to step down to concentrate on the Gang Show. He had asked Barrie if he would leave Cubs and take over Scouts, but Barrie eventually decided to stay with Cubs. Barrie was held in the highest regard.

Barrie was never afraid to let his opinion be know at Group Exec meetings! I remember going to a meeting for Den (he was probably busy with the Gang Show), I was only a Venture Scout at the time. Port Troop were doing a lot of canoeing and Starboard Troop were doing much less. Barrie asked why Starboard Troop did so little canoeing. I told him it was because none of our leaders had any qualifications for canoeing. He said: “well why don’t you get qualified then?”. At first I though this was unreasonable, but then I realised he was right and this was what prompted me to join a canoe club which helped to build up the number of instructors that we have today. I never got to tell him this. Barrie was always very good at getting people to do things to get a job done.

Barrie was the inspiration for 8th Worthing’s 75th anniversary celebrations. He set up a competition to design a commemorative badge and paid for the prize, he headed an activity Camp for all Sections and a meal for all Leaders (past and present). I remember many phone calls and meetings at his house. He had a knack for knowing who could do something and getting them to do it.

Barrie was a great Scouter who will be greatly missed and never forgotten. He has made an enormous contribution to his Section, his Group and his District. Like many others, I’m going to miss him as a fellow Scouter and as a friend.

Paul Chaplain
Scout Leader

The tribute (read by Ian) at Barrie's funeral:

In celebration and thanks for Barrie’s life, I have tried to recall some of those events that have typified his contribution to Scouting in Worthing and in particular the 8th Worthing Sea Scout Group of which he was a member.

It is 1986, imagine a cold, snow-scattered field, dotted round with tents. This is the scene of a Cub Scout Leaders’ Pack Holiday Course. This morning’s challenge is to light a fire and make a cup of tea. This is difficult of course, as the wood is wet and cold. 

Whilst most of the small groups are huddled around piles of damp twigs wondering how this is to be achieved, one of the trainee Leaders is seen to make a quick trip to the car park, only to emerge a few minutes later with a gas blowlamp. Soon there are four or five blazing fires where previously there had only been smouldering leaves. 

The mystery blowlamp wielder was of course Barrie Fitzgerald. Barrie had seen the problem and had fixed it by the quickest and most logical method available. This was typical of Barrie’s approach to life and to his Scouting.

Barrie first became involved with the 8th Worthing Sea Scout Group, in the early 1980’s, when as a father, he organised football training for the Starboard Watch Cub Pack of which his son Robert was a member. 

Being the sort of person who liked to make things happen, Barrie soon became involved with other Pack activities, and by 1984 had become an Assistant Cub Scout Leader. In 1988, Barrie became Cub Scout Leader of the Starboard Watch Cub Scout Pack, the appointment that he retained until the end.

Barrie was a very loud person, his booming voice was just right for managing activities such as camps and District events. I remember how some of the more nervous new Cubs used to visibly wince when Akela, as Barrie was known to them, called for silence or reminded a more wayward Cub that there was no point in polishing your shoes if you were then going to kick a ball around on the way to the meeting. 

Barrie had a knack that could make things happen. If he couldn’t do it himself, then he usually knew someone who could or would suggest a solution to the problem. When Paul, one of our Scout Leaders, ventured to suggest that the reason for lack of canoeing in the Troop programme was a lack of trained canoeists, Barrie just pointed out that the obvious solution was to go and get qualified. Probably as a direct result of that simple comment, the Group are now National Scout Dragon Boat champions, the magnificent trophy for which is displayed in our Wardroom.

Soon after becoming a Warranted Leader with the Pack, Barrie began to get involved in District Cub Scout events, in particular, the Rounders competition and “It’s a Knockout”. This was a huge all day event, based rather loosely on the TV series of the same name, in which usually up to 20 Cub Pack used to take part. In one day, the sports field at the old “Excess “ insurance company site at Broadwater roundabout would be transformed into a competition arena, with hundreds of children taking part in a variety of mainly silly activities, many of which involved getting wet or dirty. A few hours later the field was cleared of every sign that anyone had been there.

At one stage, Barrie was asked to become a Scout leader, but decided to stay with “his Pack.” He loved the boys, and later, girls in his care and they loved him, even though they had to bear an occasional telling off in a very loud voice when they had done something exceptionally silly. On one occasion, on a late journey back from London, Barrie held the attention of a coach load of Cubs for over 2 hours by telling stories from the Jungle Book.

Barrie took on the challenge of creating the Group’s 75th Anniversary celebrations, setting up a competition to design our commemorative badge, leading an all-section activity camp at Blacklands and organising an anniversary dinner.

Barrie didn’t suffer fools gladly and certainly didn’t like wasting his time, there was too much to do without that. Barrie didn’t see the need for long rambling meetings. At our regular Scouter’s and Group Executive Meetings, as 22:00hrs approached I remember consciously trying to speed things up in order to avoid any comments about my ability to finish in a reasonable time. Reasonable by Barrie’s standards of course.

Barrie liked to get involved and put many hours work into the maintenance and modernisation of our headquarters building.

It was always a pleasure visiting or staying at one of Barrie’s Annual Cub Scout Camps. Even in the barest field, apparently lacking all basic facilities, one would find cold water on tap in the galley and by the toilets. On later camps, we had warm showers, provided the sun was shining and not too many people tried to use the facility. 

At these big camps Jackie, his wife, usually in the role of cook, always helped Barrie and the Group has been grateful on many occasions for her support for in the numerous activities and jobs that he undertook for us.

Four years ago, Barrie was awarded the Medal of Merit for “distinguished services to Scouting”, a fitting accolade for the hard work he had put in as Akela.

We shall all miss you Barrie; you were a great Cub Scout Leader and a great friend.

Ian Wetherell
Group Scout Leader

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