On Tuesday 22/06/2021, we said goodbye to District Leader, 87th Holy Trinity Leader and friend, Paul Wilkinson.
his funeral was held at St. Mary’s Church, Knutton. Unfortunately, due to the current restrictions, the number of people able to attend was limited, so a video of the funeral was made. This can be seen below.
The eulogy was made by ADC Cubs, 14th Basford Cub Leader and Paul’s friend Laura, and this can be read below the video.
On behalf of myself, my family, and all of Newcastle District, I would just like to say, Tony and Andrew, we are so very sorry for your loss and hope you can take some comfort in the knowledge that you are in our thoughts and prayers.
As Sir Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give” With this in mind, and though Paul’s time on this earth has been short, through his generosity and ability to help others, I know he had a great life.
He was one of the most generous and caring people I’ve ever known, and this was most evident in the precious time that he shared with us all. As Barbra Davies said, “Paul was one in a million” and I couldn’t agree more!
When Tony asked me if I could talk about our memories of Paul and what we got up to, it took my right back to the start of our Scouting adventures as fresh-faced leaders some 20+ years ago, when Paul became a leader with URC, now known as 79th NBC, and I joined Basford, unfortunately for Paul, and lucky for me, along with Richard, Chris and Vicky, we were put on the same leadership courses and from there we became firm friends!
It was at one particular training event I learnt a number of things about Paul. Firstly, his car is like the Tardis or Mary Poppins bag, if you needed something, Paul would have it. On this particular occasion it was beverages, and I don’t mean soft drinks….. and yes Rach Gray, even at the very beginning, Paul had the special cool box which would always be carrying a beverage of some sort (This became a regular fixture of pretty much every camp.) Paul loved a good camp fire, However, I soon learnt on a leader’s only camp, never ask men to put the camp fire out. I shall leave it to your imagination how Paul suggested they did that!
In 2013 Paul became a district leader, and in 2014 I became ADC Cubs. Prior to accepting the position, I had a discussion with Paul about changing my role, but Paul told me “I’m not being funny ‘Lau’ stop thinking about it, and just do it” and said he would support me 100 percent. So, along with Sharon as administrative extraordinaire, we became the dream team, or as I used to say to Paul, we were partners in crime. Our mission was to try and support the Cubs section within our district, and I know that Paul absolutely did that!
Paul meant so much to us all, and for the majority in Scouts, our memories of Paul surround camps, Den team’s at Kibb, leading the Cooks team or Castle Capers where he was a significant part of the back stage crew! What some of you might not know, is that one year Paul also had to become my quick-change assistant! I went from wearing my opening costume, to Indian dress, and then back into my opening outfit! That dress went on inside out, back to front, and on the odd occasion the right way, but no one ever noticed, and I was always back on stage in time thanks to my assistant!
Paul’s love of the theatre wasn’t just held for back stage, and this was displayed in 2007, when Paul took to the front of stage for one of the most memorable performances in Flying High, when he appeared in a red jacket performing ‘is this the way to Amarillo’ – Secretly, I think he loved it, as I’m sure lots of you did too.
In his district role, Paul helped out at lots of groups, including Holy Trinity, and following changes at NBC, in 2015 he became a permanent member of their leadership team.
We all knew Paul would fit in well because of his love for carrier bags, in particular bags for life – When doing the Camp shopping, packing was never an issue as he almost had as many bags as Janet and Angela!
Paul loved being part of the Holy Trinity Group, he loved helping and supporting all sections, maintaining the up keep of the scout hut and grounds. His time as part of the Cubs section at HT is where some of Janet’s fondest memories occurred. This included teaching the Cubs a song and dance routine for their Spanish theme at the Indaba Camp, as well as helping to make the costumes for this!
Janet also loved that Paul never forgot any of the Cubs birthdays, and always made sure they were celebrated.
It was on a joint Holy Trinity and Basford Cub Camp at Copeland Cabin; I remember Paul’s love for a good camp fire was demonstrated.
At a time when risk assessments weren’t so popular, the Cubs were all asleep in their tents, and the leaders were having a chat and catch up around the camp fire, with Chris and Paul tending to it as they frequently did. Myself and Sylv went up to the Fox glen and, on our return, Sylv suddenly stopped me and said, “I can see the bloomin fire”. I replied “yes, you can always see a glow from the fire on the trees”. To which Sylv responded – “NO I can see the fire”! I remember looking across the field and being able to see flames above the Cabin! When we got back – Chris and Paul proudly informed us they had been playing Pallet Jenga and seeing who could get the top pallet on. However, they decided to stop at 12, I was relieved they had stopped and said to Paul “is this because it’s not safe!” Paul laughed and said “no Lau it’s because we don’t want the flames to keep touching the power lines”.
2016 saw the Cubs celebrate 100 years of Scouting, and it was during one of the county events, an overnight stay at Chester Zoo, Paul was presented with his greatest Scouting achievement; his award for merit by the then County Commissioner, Paula Evans. The same year, we also had the Cubs on Tour in Paris. As a district leader, Paul was instrumental in helping to organise and fundraise for this trip.
Paul was a good friend of Silverdale Scout group, and helped on many of their camps and events. In 2019, Paul returned to Paris with Silverdale for their 90th birthday celebrations, it was lovely to see the pictures and hear the stories of his return trip.
Paul was generous to a fault, always checking in to make sure you were ok.
He also gave the biggest and best hugs – as Rach said “Nobody did hugs like Paul!”
This speech barely scratches the surface of the amazing memories we shared, and as I think of one, so many more pop in to my mind, and I will cherish each and every one dearly.
As Baden Powell once said “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it” and my goodness, he most definitely did.
So, finally, thank you Paul for being the greatest scouter, cook, and best friend a person could ask for.
As they say, goodbyes are not forever, goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I will miss you my most precious friend, that is until we meet again.