My introduction to the 33rd Paisley Gleniffer scout group was when I was seven years old ,when, on a wet Saturday afternoon, my father met Bryden MacKellar outside the PDSA on Glasgow Road and asked if there were any vacancies in his cub pack. There were and the following week I was in and enjoying myself at the cub headquarters at the old Potterhill railway station. The Akela was Billy Gilmour, assisted by Jack Taylor, and I joined the White Six. At the appropriate time I graduated to the Borland Troop, which met in the Lochfield School. Adam Blake was the scout-leader, assisted by Ewan McArdle and John Faulkner. I joined the Stag Patrol and my patrol leader was Stuart Fleming.
Over the years my brothers (Alex and Innes) and I spent many enjoyable times with the 33rd. In an age of cliché and the sound-bite it might seem a bit cheesy to say that these were character building years, but they were, and all of us who have passed through the Gleniffer Scouts owe a huge debt of gratitude to the vision of Bryden MacKellar and to the dedication of Adam Blake, Jim Baxter, Tom Nixon, Bob Lees, James Fauldes, and the many others that followed them, for making our time so formative and so much fun. Many of the skills that were learned in those days remain with us and have become part of our daily lives.
Friday nights were packed with the most brutal and competitive of games- British Bulldog (probably banned nowadays); trench warfare; and cargos. Inter-patrol competitions , such as building trestles from our scout staves and racing them. Weekends were spent on the hills, hiking, or camping at the Place of Kilbirnie, where Ronnie Gilchrist engineered the tallest towers and built aerial runways.
There are too many memories to recount them all. I remember my first cub hike to Bridge of Weir. Billy Gilmour was striding out in front and when he looked back he found that he had lost his pack, who had taken a different fork in the road. Cooking competitions at camp produced some amazing menus that contestants on Master Chef would be proud of- there was Hugh Cochrane’s crepe suzette. At one of the camps to Glen Sannox corned beef hash was made, which was so adhesive that it stuck to the plate and was not dislodged even when the plate plus hash were use as frizbees. One summer (it might have been 1966) the annual camp was held at Tayvallich. I remember being woken at three in the morning by an irate father who was looking for his daughter, who had struck up a friendship with a couple of the scouts (no names!!). They did not appear until after breakfast time!! These and many more memories we look back on with great affection when we see our former selves.
The 33rd was consistently one of the best scout troops in the Paisley district. We frequently won the County Flag competitions, beating the John Neilston and Oldhall troops, who were our closest rivals.
Many of the activities of the 33rd cubs and scouts were chronicled in the scout magazine the Domino, which later became the Axeman, edited and produced by Jim Baxter.