Page Compiled February 2008

All images and text copyright © to Goldings Old Boys reunion members

Final briefing! Five Goldings boys with their trainer.
Last Summer the five spent four adventurous days and nights in
the Scottish Highlands to qualify for the Duke of Edinburgh's
gold medal

Left: One of our mountaineers shown against the background
of Lochearnhead Railway Station now turned, through the
enterprise of the County Commissioner for Hertfordshire Scouts,
Mr Melville Balsillie, into a sailing and mountaineering base for
young people training for the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards.
Below: A more extensive view, showing the Loch and the
exhilarating mountains where our Goldings party had their first taste
of the hazards, thrills and rewards of mountaineering

Three aspects of Duke of Edinburgh Award training.
Left: First aid.
Right: Getting absorbed in a worthwhile hobby.
Below: Knowing the joy of physical fitness and control

MANY people, even those who feel reorganisation is right and necessary, have been saddened by the changes taking place in our old-established
railways. But one man's reaction took Scottish Railways completely by surprise. "I want," he informed them, "to buy a railway station."
He knew, too, the particular one he wanted the little Highland station of Lochearnhead, thirty miles from Stirling and when he explained why he
wanted it the authorities, although they could not sell him the station, agreed to rent it to him at a nominal rental, provided it was used in the way
he visualised.
The would-be purchaser was the County Commissioner for Hertfordshire Scouts, Mr Melville Balsillie, and he coveted the station in order to
convert it into a sailing and mountaineering base for young people eager to adventure beyond mechanised, artificial town life, particularly those
wanting to qualify for the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards.
The site was ideal for this. Kitchen, dining-room, sick bay and other essential facilities could be set up in existing buildings, and the track converted
into a camping ground with accommodation offered at 2s. per head per night.
Among those who watched the scheme develop with special interest was Mr Robert Newton, physical training instructor at our Wm Baker
Technical School, Goldings, Hertford. Perhaps he had something of a fellow feeling for Mr Balsillie because he, too, in his own way, was
becoming an adept at seeing prospects of new life, new purpose, new futures, not for buildings, but for people and often these two ideas are
connected. At Goldings Mr Newton was dealing with boys who needed exactly this vision, boys handicapped in early life by one or other of the
many circumstances that bring children into our care bereavement, ill health, poverty, human failings in their elders. Passed over at the 11-plus
stage, when others were picked for grammar or technical schools, even at thirteen, when they arrived at Goldings, many, especially those
newly admitted to our care, were already inclined to feel life had passed them by and underrate their own powers and possibilities.

Mr Newton knew that the first essential for such boys is the ability to see themselves anew. Scouting, which might have helped them, with its fine
linking of physical, mental and spiritual growth, did not seem to appeal to the majority, partly because they considered themselves too old to start,
and partly because they disliked any activity which might make it necessary to equal or compete with others.
The Duke of Edinburgh's scheme, however, by-passed this difficulty, for its approach is more individual.
Each candidate is asked, not to vie with others, but to give his own, individual best in four ways: in rescue and first-aid work; by undertaking
independent journeys of varying length and duration, with a night or nights spent in the open; by developing sustained interest in some creative
hobby; and by cultivating physical fitness.
Physical achievements seemed much more possible to Mr Newton's boys than mental paper work being their special anathema as C. or D. Stream
pupils in school and a first few brave volunteers agreed to enrol and start training.
Goldings was already well equipped as far as physical training and athletics were concerned. Hobbies of many kinds had also long been encouraged.
Nor did it prove difficult to add instruction in first-aid and rescue work, thanks to members of the St John Ambulance, the Fire Service and Police
who became valued allies.
But training the boys to face the hazards of their first independent journeys was more difficult. The first hurdle was finding camping gear. This
can be very expensive, and Mr Newton had little or no money to spend. Hertfordshire Scouts started the ball rolling with very kind loans, and
certain manufacturers responded most generously to personal appeals. Boys started going on hikes, gradually learning to carry the independent
camper's 75 lb pack.

Learning the skills and thrills of independent life without
houses or shops.
Above left: Morning, ready to pack the tent and get on the move.
Below left: Midday rest, with a self-cooked meal in the open.
Above: Understanding the language of maps

Then came the great adventure of first nights spent in the open. There were plenty of Jonahs ready to warn Mr Newton that here he was certainly
asking for trouble.
"These boys," they said, "don't know the first thing about country ways. Just you wait till they start pinching things, and you'll have the whole
district up against you."
"And do you know," says Mr Newton, "the amazing thing is that I've taken out now, I suppose, something like 400 boys and I've never had one
steal anything. I don't mean they are saints, but they understand the good sense of respecting other people's property, are proud of their record,
and no boy wants to be the first to let the side down."
As training progressed Mr Newton begun to see some fine qualities emerge in his boys. One of the most moving was the dogged power of
persistence that, perhaps, can only reach its finest flowering in the not-so-bright individual.
"These boys seem to understand sheer sticking power to know they'll never get there by brains or brilliance but just by doggedness,"
Mr Newton explains. "I find this sort of blunt courage particularly impressive when it comes to some of the less physically fit. I remember, for
example, one boy with a bone disease that made him liable to quick fatigue. How he stuck it out on those early hikes, determined to keep up with
the rest, even when, at first, he was almost crying with exhaustion! But bit by bit he learned to do it, becoming less and less vulnerable as he
struggled. Today he already holds his bronze medal, and will soon have the silver.

The two faces of community service.
Above: In the limelight, playing in the band.
Right: Behind-the-scenes chore, washing-up

Another impressive development was the eagerness of the boys, as they developed strength and skills, to use these for the general good. Many
ways in which willing boys could give service quickly showed themselves. Some were jobs right in the limelight playing in the band at fetes in
aid of good causes or giving gymnastic displays. Others were dull, backstage chores, like washing-up at a church bazaar or digging an old-age
pensioner's garden. Letters began to arrive 'like this from an official of the Hertfordshire Association for the Welfare of the Handicapped:
"I have been advised to write to you about a handicapped man who badly needs his garden dug over. He is in bed all the time, paralysed from the
waist down, and the sight of his garden from his window worries him much as he is an active man by nature."
Mr Newton found the boys not merely willing but eager to respond, firmly turning down the offers that were sometimes made of payment, in the
joy of a new vision of themselves and their value to society.
Gradually more and more boys were attracted into the scheme. The more experienced began to help the newcomers. Thanks particularly to
Hertford Rover Scouts who helped with the initial training, it became possible for trios of boys to go out camping at weekends, testing and
developing their powers of self-sufficiency in the fields and farms within hiking distance of Goldings, one experienced boy accompanying two
novices, each party phoning Mr Newton at intervals to report.
By the end of 1962 eleven boys had qualified for the bronze medal, and five for the silver. The next year five gained the bronze, and six the silver.
But to qualify, even for the bronze, means showing ability to travel and camp in really rough, isolated territory the mountains of Wales, the open
stretches of Dartmoor, or, best of all perhaps, the Scottish Highlands. And that can mean considerable expense.

By this time five boys had reached the final stages for their gold medals and wanted to do a really hard journey in order to qualify.
Eight more were nearing the end of the silver medal stage, and lacked actual mountain experience. So the news of Mr Balsillie's
success with Scottish Railways created a great stir at Goldings, and the generous decision of the Hertfordshire Scouts to allow
Goldings a week's booking at their coveted new centre caused wild elation. The gold boys could plan a four-day exercise in absolutely
wild and open country, without even a village shop in the territory crossed, while the rest of the
party concentrate on gaining first-hand experience of the hazards of mountain operations. It was a thrilling moment when they all
stepped out of Balquhidder Station at 7.30 a.m. on a June morning and set out to walk the three miles to Lochearnhead carrying their gear.
For most it was their first glimpse of real mountains. The first thing learned was the meaning of mountain mist, and the importance of accurate
compass reading.
"We were out on our very first exercise," Mr Newton said, "and the mist came down, swift and thick, blotting out the whole countryside. They'd
never seen anything like it, and now they really know what mountain mist means."
But equally impressive was the wonder of the mountain top silence and the enormous views.
"You are seeing something earmarked 'For climbers only' ", they were told. "Owning the most expensive car would never enable a man to get up
here and see this."
There were amusing incidents, too, especially when Mr Newton
staged--a mock rescue expedition. The gold boys were away on their four-day exercise.
"Action stations," he told the rest. "The gold boys have had an accident, and we must reach them without delay."
The exercise began in grand style. Quickly gathering supplies and first-aid equipment, within 15 minutes the rescuers were away up the hillside
ready to leave the road and start climbing the lower mountain slopes.
"Now let'« know exactly where we're going," said Mr Newton. "Give me a map and we'll pinpoint the spot."
The boys looked sheepishly at each other. Everyone had concentrated on first-aid equipment and forgotten the need for a map. Had Mr Newton
not produced his own, the whole party would have had to return to base to retrieve one. It was a lesson none of the volunteers is likely to forget
nor the importance of always carrying a rope. For two of the would-be rescuers tried an awkward river crossing and slipped in. Mr Newton alone
had the length of rope that made hauling them out an easy matter. Even as he turned to put the rope away, one of the wet
ones whipped off his boots to dry them —having no idea how difficult it was going to be to get them on again.
"These may be simple things," Mr Newton says, "but they all help to build up an attitude to life a readiness to accept responsibility and recognize
the importance of one's own actions."
Mr Newton is well aware, of course, that what his boys did this summer, many others have done, some making a better showing, especially of
keeping logbooks.
"But," he emphasizes, and the point is often commented on by the staff at training centres, "ninety per cent of the young people who qualify for the
Duke's awards belong to what is often called 'the grammar school type', those blessed with a good brain, successful parents able to give powerful
support and encouragement. But my boys are the C and D stream, those who might
have been excused for thinking they'd nothing to give. Yet here they are, given a chance, doggedly beating their way to the top too and doing it,
not to gain, but to be able to give."
Today it is not only old railways that are in for an overhaul. Many old ideas and institutions are being shaken to the roots. How true it is that "The
old order changes yielding place unto the new." But how gloriously true also that "God fulfils Himself in many ways," if we give Him the chance.
We believe one of the ways is through' the lives of boys like ours, those who may seem able only to contribute very small loaves and fishes to the
Divine plan. Yet these can feed a multitude.

Above: An old lady sits in the sun while volunteers from Goldings
dig her garden. Left: A hospital patient telephones her friends thanks
to Scouts who've organized a regular trolley telephone bedside service,
which Goldings boys help to run

The following photographs and Text were donated by Mrs. Newton and family

Exclusive legal rights must be sort from Mrs Newton to reproduce any information and photographs displayed on this page.

Lochearnhead 1964