Platt HQ - The Official Opening
21st June 2009
On Saturday 6th June 2009, St Mary's Platt Scout Group had their new Scout HQ officially opened by the Mayor of Tonbridge & Malling, Cllr Sue Murray.
See the article below from Tony Woolven, acting Group Scout Leader for 1st St Mary's Platt Scout Group, which describes the journey to their new HQ.
"Saturday the 6th June saw the official opening of our new Scout HQ by our Mayor, Sue Murray plus a blessing from our Cannon Vicar Liz Walker. I must admit my knees were knocking, however Liz and Sue were very understanding and within no time at all I was back to normal.
It’s now that time that one looks back to the salient features of this project that are beginning to linger in my nostalgia and although some of these were more significant to success than others they have all left something remember.
It goes without saying that with out the support of people of the parish including the local organisations and the Parish Council this project would have limped along to eternity. Their involvement was a demonstration of a community spirit Platt can be proud of. I must not, of course, forget my family. Especially my wife Stephanie, who has put up with this project for years without complaint and my son, Adrian, who when I was pontificating about giving the builder the answer to start – knowing funds weren’t quite adequate – Informed me that “Dad you are going to have to bite the bullet”
Oddly enough it was only at the end of this project that I realised how much we owed to the Scout Committee back in the 1980’s. Platt Scouts became homeless and their committee convinced Platt parish council of their need and acquired a lease on our present site plus Planning permission from Tonbridge and Malling which was another achievement bearing in mind the fact that the site is in the Green Belt. From the rumours we’ve heard this was not plain sailing. This gave us a head start, something we didn’t really appreciate at the start.
One of the early factors that stimulated us was an attractive kit built structure introduced to us by Peter Firmor, a colleague of mine. This building came ready insulated with windows in the roof that would suit our purpose and at a price that seemed achievable. And although we later rejected this design, it gave us the realisation that our dreams were within reach.
Another colleague of mine, Ray Fuller, produced a business plan that summarised our aspirations giving us the appearance of a polished professional team rather than the bunch of amateurs we really were. I am convinced this helped our fundraising.
One must not forget Pat Darby, our treasurer and secretary for above all else convincing me that the offer by David Valence, our builder to take on the whole project was worth going for. And her husband, Graham, who was roped in for many tasks, most notably assisting in the transport of 175 square metres of carpet tiles from Ascot.
Ones faith in human nature was put to the test when the builders had finished. Decorating the inside was to be a mammoth job especially the main hall. We had asked for volunteers but had no idea how many would turn up. There were no real indications as few had responded to my emails, I estimated numbers less than ten. Imagine our astonishment when twenty five arrived including some with considerable experience in this kind of work. And although over subsequent weekends we did suffer from a degree of volunteer fatigue we always had enough support to complete the task.
A critical moment late in the project came when I had inadvertently agreed to a 9:00pm finish to activities at the HQ forgetting that Scouts and Guides sometimes go on for longer. This resulted in another Planning Application. A local objection was raised resulting in our application being considered at a Planning Meeting. It was just our luck that our application appeared over half way down the list – just after the tea break. When our turn came a Borough Councillor stood up and supported our application after which there was a unanimous vote in our favour. The councillor who spoke for us on that day is now our Mayor, Sue Murray.
However the most significant factor of this project was when we accepted Dave Valences offer to complete the whole project. David and his colleague Grant took on what had been four separate contracts. Demolition, building the HQ, fitting it out the internals plus the construction of the steps/ wheelchair ramp and turning it into one contract. They sourced the best priced materials and labour. All this from start to finish within six months."
We wish 1st St Mary's Platt Scout Group well to many years of Scouting adventure and fun in their new HQ.