Mr Andrew Tanner is well known in the Scouting movement for his dedication, skills and devotion to offering both young and old the best service we can provide. He recently took on the role as Chief Commissioner of SCOUTS South Africa. This is Andrew’s Scouting story.
Andrew joined the World Scout Movement as a Cub in the UK. He was 8 years old when he joined the 1st Hove Cub Pack in March 1954 together with his neighbor. As a Cub Andrew had loads of fun! “I remember the Pack Camp where I ate a partly cooked sausage that I had cooked over a very smoky fire, it was horrible!!” he quips. “I also played for the 1st Hove Cub Pack soccer team. We won the local Cub soccer league without losing a match! In fact our goalkeeper went on to become a professional goalie, so this may have helped.” Cubbing didn’t only give Andrew fun in the great outdoors, it also opened his eyes to the global world of Scouting. “I remember visiting the World Scout Jamboree at Sutton Coalfields in 1957 for a day. We went by train and it was a very wet day. Seeing all the Scouts and the amazing pioneering in the gateways etc. are still memories I cherish today. It really made me realize that we are part of a big world of Scouting and it was great to see big boys doing fun things!”
“Cubbing was fun!” says Andrew. “I still have my scarf, Leaping Wolf badge, advancement stars and interest badges on my camp fire blanket today.”
The Cubbing and Scouting values are universal. Even though he has fond memories of Cubbing, it was Scouting that made a huge impact on his life and made him the man he is today. “I had a fantastic time as a Scout!” he reminisces. “My first Scout camp was on the island of Sark, in the channel islands. We took all our kit by train and boat! I will never forget the camaraderie I felt. We also traveled to other countries with my Venture Scout Troop. We went to Norway where we camped and hiked in the snow, we cycled in the Pyrenees Mountain range from France, into Andorra, then Spain and down to the Mediterranean. The biggest challenge there for me was carrying my camping gear for ten days on my bike, whilst cycling in the mountains. There were moments when I thought I wouldn’t be able to get up the mountain, there were stretches where we had to walk, but with the encouragement of my Scouter and my fellow Scouts I made it!” he says with a smile. “We often went on long hikes like for example ‘Operation Bloodhound’, which was a 10 day hike competition in Germany and Luxembourg.” When asked whether conquering these challenges boosted his confidence in his own abilities, Andrew laughs and says “No, I always knew I was good! But on a more serious note, all the camps, hikes and expeditions I did as a Scout and Venture Scout did help me develop my self-confidence enormously! Tackling the challenges in a patrol or small team, knowing there were excellent leaders in the background if you stumbled along the way was important for my own personal growth. The leaders let you learn by doing, you made mistakes and learnt from them. Remember what you learn young, you remember forever, so it is very important and is a motto for life. Another notable memory was being invited to attend the St Georges Day Queen’s Scout Parade at Windsor castle, marching past the Queen and attending the service in the St George’s Chapel at Windsor castle, it was an amazing ad humbling experience!”
Andrew has many fantastic memories of Cubbing and Scouting. Instrumental in this are the adult leaders that helped him along the way. We asked him who the most inspirational role models were that have made him the person he is today? “The most influential Scouter for me was Robin Nye, my Troop Scouter at 2nd Petts Wood Scouts. I leant so much about Scouting and life from him and we had great Troop camps and activities. He actually also taught me how to drive! We stayed friends for years and I was best man at his wedding. Outside of Scouting, in my work environment I also have had the privilege to work with and be a fellow director with so many excellent engineers, all of whom have been role models from whom I have learnt so much, not just technically, but about leadership, management and life.”
In 1972 Andrew moved to South Africa. It wasn’t until 1987 when his son joined the White Horse Cub Pack that he joined the parents committee. He later became chairman and then took over the Troop in 1989. Andrew moved on to become the Assistant District Commissioner, before devoting his time to Adult Leader training as a Leader Trainer and as the Chair: National Adult Support. In January 2018 he was appointed Chief Commissioner.
When asked if there are people he looks up to today he responds without hesitation “Limpopo’s Regional Commissioner and Keep The Dream 196 Director, Louise Batty! It is so motivating to see what a difference that Scouting makes in Limpopo. It is just amazing to see what they have achieved there. Louise inspires me to keep trying and believing in the power of Scouting!”
Andrew always remains humble and devoted to the Scouting Movement. Over the years he has received a number of accolades such as achieving the Queens Scout Award and receiving the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award from Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in the gardens at Buckingham palace. Also wearing the Gilwell woggle which his father made when he did hid GS warrant course. In South Africa Andrew has received the 40 years’ Service Award, the Medal of Merit and the Bar to the Medal of Merit and in 2017 he received the Order of the Silver Protea from Brendon Hausberger.
Andrew Tanner is a retired Professional Civil Engineer who was a Director of, and specialist consultant to, a leading South African Consulting Practice. He specialised in integrated water resource planning for shared river basins and leading multidisciplinary Feasibility Studies for large water infrastructure Projects, such as the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and the Long Term Solution for Acid Mine drainage on the Witwatersrand.
Image Sources: Photos 1,2 &5: supplied by Andrew, photo 3: Wikipedia, photo 4: by Terence Vrugtman