In 1993, Linda Hall, a young mum with two small boys aged four and one, decided to set up a Beaver pack in Diggle. She spread the word around the village that she was looking for people to help her and Christine Smith, another young mum with two children aged four and five, got on board. Over the last twenty one years various people have been involved but stalwarts Linda and Christine, have stayed the course.
The first meeting of Diggle Beavers was in September 1993. The Rev Duncan Rhodes, who has always been supportive of the group, offered them Kilngreen Church as a meeting place. Supported by Anne Collier, the Assistant District Commissioner for Beavers in Oldham, the group have gone from strength to strength.
From the outset, it was decided that the Beaver pack would follow a native American theme. The boys are divided up into teams which are named after native American houses, Teipi, Wigwam, Long House and Earth Lodge. The leaders are named after tribes, Linda is Apache and Christine, Mohican.
Beaver Scouts are the first and youngest section within the scouting family involving boys aged 6 to 8 years old. They were the first scouting section to be formed in Diggle and have subsequently been joined by both Cubs and Scouts.
The Beavers meet at Kilngreen Church on a Tuesday evening at 6.00pm for an hour during the school term. There are currently twelve boy but in the past there have been as many as twenty four. The numbers vary in relation to the number of boys in the village and, due to the demand for places, membership has always bee restricted to boys from Diggle and to those attending Kilngreen Church Sunday School.
Between April and September, whatever the weather, they can be found out and about in the village and surrounding hills. The boys are easily recognised by their turquoise sweatshirts and purple and green neckerchiefs. Linda Hall said, “They learn about nature, the country code and work towards different badges. It’s not all work, the boys like nothing better than running about getting muddy and wet. One of their favourite activities is dam building in the river. With help from their dads it nearly always ends in a water fight and swimming.”
During the winter months the boys are based inside. There is an opening ceremony and then a few games to burn off excess energy. These comprise of mainly team games to encourage working together and ensure that new beavers are not left out. After a drink and a biscuit there is a craft activity which covers a wide range of things, working towards badges or gifts and cards for special events such as Christmas, Easter or Mothers day. Linda said, “The boys always enjoying making different paper aeroplanes and seeing whose will fly the furthest. Another good evening is pancake Tuesday. The boys make a batter mixture, Mohican cooks the pancakes and each boy gets to toss one before eating it. Fortunately, not many end up on the floor!!
“It is always interesting to see how the boys grow and develop over the two years they are with us. The quiet ones nearly always end up the noisiest.”
Over the years several boys, aged 14 and upwards have returned to help on a Tuesday evening to work towards different stages of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Christine said, “It is always satisfying seeing them help the younger boys.
“It is hard to believe that we have been doing Beavers for 21 years. The time has just flown by. We have been lucky that we have been able to juggle family life, work. Not sure how long we will continue but I think there is still a few more years in us yet!!”
The Beavers 21st Birthday party was held at Grandpa Greene’s, Ward Lane Diggle on Tuesday 1st July. They celebrated with beef burgers, crisps, ice cream and a birthday cake decorated with a beaver. Four of our newest beavers were invested and received their neckerchief and badges.