It has often been said ‘Scouting for boys, Masons for men’ and on one particular evening at Bryn Masonic Hall, Wigan, the link became obvious when a new initiate came to the fore in the form of Matthew Coles. He had become interested in Freemasonry when he took part in a webinar organised by the Kindred Lodges Association, a group of 40 plus lodges distributed around the world whose membership is primarily drawn from members of uniformed youth organisations such as Scouting, Boys Brigade and Sea Cadets.
The webinar was concerned with the subject of the new ‘Squirrels’ section which is being rolled out for 4-5 year olds within the Scout Association. Matthew’s background in scouting began as a cub scout, then a scout before becoming an Assistant Cub Scout Leader and then an Assistant Scout Leader. While still in his late teens, but unfortunately and reluctantly, he left the movement due to an increase in work commitments at the time. He had always planned to return to scouting but his military service with 116 Provost Company, 3rd Regiment, Royal Military Police took over. The vast number of transferable skills that he gained during his service assisted him greatly in new roles within the private security sector where he went on to work in close protection and with luxury jewellery brands before moving into facilities management with the NHS.
When Matthew eventually settled, he returned to scouting as a County Squirrels Advisor for Merseyside Scouts in July of last year and soon bumped into Tony Harvey, PJGD, the 2012 Prestonian Lecturer, who is very involved in the Federation of Kindred Lodges and UK Scouting. Tony passed Matthew on to John Barnes, the lodge mentor of Arrowhead Lodge of Freedom No 8500, who took this up and following the usual procedures and interview, John Barnes proposed and Paul O’Brien seconded Matthew as an initiate. The successful proposal and initiation in March marked Matthew’s progression from Scout to Mason and the beginning of a new path in his life.
Matthew said: ‘I have really enjoyed my privileged role of advising new Squirrel Leaders on the ‘start up process’ of their new squirrel section in addition to liaising between Squirrel Leaders and the Early Years Team at The Scout Association HQ. Playing a part in the start of a brand-new section within the movement and being involved in providing the opportunity for more young people to become involved in scouting has been very rewarding.”
By Ian K Dawson, Wigan Group Publicity Officer.