In Memory of Phil Heard, GSL

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Today we celebrated the funeral of Phil Heard, our Group Scout Leader, who died in early February.

Phil was an integral part of Westbury-on-Trym Baptist Church and his funeral was held their on Friday 11th March 2022 at 1:30pm. I shared a Scout Tribute to Phil during the service, which forms the basis for this post.

Baloo, Cub Scout Leader

Scouting Tribute to Phil Heard

Phil’s introduction to Scouting to the 167th Bristol Westbury Baptist Scout Group was in 1989 when the Scout Leader of the time, Barry Seward, asked him to help with some pioneering and bridge building on a Scout Camp in an apple orchard in the depths of the Wye valley. Phil turned up with Alison, Sarah and Ed in tow and the Scouting seed was sown!

Phil Heard. Group Scout Leader, Scout Leader, Beaver Leader

In the late nineties, Phil was, again, found on Scout Camps as a Parent Helper – with a special proficiency in cooking bacon sandwiches. Much, I’m sure, to the delight of then Scout Leader Simon Evans.

Fast forward to 2004 when Terry Wright was the Group Scout Leader and wanting to retire from the role. The Group Scout Leader is a Scouting Volunteer whose role it is to support the leaders of the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts and to steer the direction and workings of the group. Terry saw a highly valuable candidate in Phil, with his vast teaching experience, management skills and organisation of student events, especially of school camps; all this coupled with a love of outdoor activities. Phil accepted the challenge and guided the group for the next 7 or 8 years including while scouting welcomed girls to join throughout the age groups. Over this time many current and ex-scouters benefited from Phil’s encouragement. He was always available as a sounding board; not shy of sharing his opinion of how things could be done – but always supporting our decisions and his trust in us leaders gives us confidence.

Phil was also generous with his time and expertise outside of the 167th Group, benefiting other Groups in the district – particularly, if I recall the 169th in Brentry and the 3rd in Bishopston.

And then, a good few years ago, at the end of a the Scout Leadership of Ross Perry, no one else was forthcoming, so Phil stepped in to lead the Scout Troop – though he wasn’t supposed to be leading a section as well as being Group Scout Leader. I can’t imagine the groan emitted by the District Commissioner when Phil told him last September that, in order to keep the Beaver colony going, he would start leading that too!

But all of this doesn’t really do justice to the essence of Phil the Scouter, which was, I think, his heart for the children and young people themselves. Phil was an inimitable enabler and empowerer of young people’s engagement in scouting. Phil strongly supported ensuring that scouting was accessible to all young people whatever barriers might initially appear in their way. If there was a problem, Phil would be very quick to work towards the solution and get the community involved where he could. So, when Covid hit us – Phil immediately jumped on the chance to learn how to do online scouting and he was delighted with the quirky new experiences and opportunities that presented themselves to cubs and scouts.

There are so many scouts for whom Phil was important. I think Phil’s legacy in Scouting is the sheer amount of young people who grew in maturity and confidence, skills for life and a love of the outdoors through his tenure as our Shere Khan, our Group Scout Leader.

Phil Heard has Gone Home.

The circle of stones with one in the middle is the tracking symbol “Gone Home” used to tell those following that you are no longer walking the hills.

As a steadfast follower of Jesus, Phil’s church family know that he has Gone Home to be with his Heavenly Father.


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