Vice-Chairman of World Scouting and Secretary General of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Scheme addresses our annual meeting

Added 29/06/2012 test

Avon Scouts and assembled guests today welcomed John May as keynote speaker at its annual meeting which was held in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial building at Bristol University.  Scouting's popularity has soared lately, experiencing nine years of sustained growth, with teenagers and girls leading the way. John is Vice-Chairman of the World Scout Committee and Secretary General of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award which co-ordinates and develops the Award in more than 140 countries worldwide. John, who was a Scout volunteer whilst at the university in the 1980s, said "it was great to be back home". 

John's distinguished career has included being a head teacher, aged just 28 and regenerating under-performing schools, National Education Director of Business in the Community, Chief Executive of Career Academies UK and later of Young Enterprise. As a teacher, John worked in a range of situations from schools in suburban England to refugee camps in Uganda.  He is a former Non-Executive Director of UNICEF, helped found "Teach First" in the UK and he regularly writes, speaks and broadcasts on subjects related to education. In 2008, John received the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion in recognition of his long-standing dedication to enterprise education and in 2008 he received the Freedom of the City of London. 

John highlighted the impressive impact of Scouting on the development young people in this area and around the world and pointed out the strong partnerships that exist with the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.  In his address, John spoke of the need to encourage more volunteers to get involved with Scouting in order to respond to the huge surge in demand from young people. Later, he joined Explorer Scouts, aged 14-18 and challenged them to think big in grasping the many opportunities to inspire and help others and to transform their own lives afforded both by Scouting and the DofE scheme. 

John also took the opportunity to welcome the announcement of TV adventurer, Ed Coats as County President and local ambassador for Scouting. In a prerecorded message Coats spoke of his latest international expeditions and his admiration for Scouting. Dr. Coats, a resident in the County and himself a Scout in his youth, is the latest in a long run of high profile supporters of the Movement seeking to encourage more adults to volunteer. He joins the likes of Chief Scout, Bear Grylls and the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton who announced her volunteer involvement earlier this year sparking global media interest. 

As a medical doctor and no stranger to a busy life, Ed joins John May and these other high profile ambassadors in promoting the message that volunteering for the Scouts can be flexible and great fun for adults too. Recently, Coats took Scouting's flag to the North Pole and later this month returns from a different trip in Tanzania to spend a day of adventure with 30 specially selected Scouts at their national activity centre near Bristol. Ed points out the strong similarities between Scouting and his latest adventures to be broadcast in a BBC series involving UK young people later in the year.  

Read John May's blog post after the Annual Meeting.