From helping people in a crisis, to providing care and being a good friend, the Evening Post is celebrating the region’s unsung heroes. In the fourth in our series, NATALIE WALKER speaks to Joan Jackson, the longest serving beaver scout leader in South Ribble.
When Joan Jackson got involved in St Ambrose Cubs and Scouts more than 30 years ago, she wanted to give children aged between six and eight better opportunities and with the help of others, she helped to form the beaver colony in Leyland in 1986.
Since then, the 62-year-old has been a pillar of strength for the group and has helped so many young boys realise their potential.
Always putting the welfare of others first, she has supported youngsters at difficult times, as her daughter, Michelle Iddon explained: “My mum has been an inspiration with commitment to her role as beaver leader, going out of her way to allow kids to join in even in times of family turmoil.
“A child had come up from Wales to stay with his aunt as his father was in intensive care and eventually passed away.
“He was a beaver in Wales and we helped him get involved to keep some normality to his life.
“We’ve had sleep-overs where a child needed medication administered, luckily we had a leader who was a nurse from another group involved.
“She goes that extra mile, not an hour a week as were told when we joined.”
Joan, who is known as Ahmeek within the group, said: “I joined as a hobby and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to give children something back.
“St Ambrose Scouts was the second group in Leyland to start and I am the oldest serving beaver scout leader in South Ribble, standing at 30 years.
“Along with the beaver leader, Anne Berry and assistant beaver leader, Christine Pennington, I helped to set the beaver group up.
“I really enjoyed it. I used to go camping with the group, which was fun.
“The best thing was seeing the children progress from being shy and timid when they first joined to feeling more confident and joining in all the games. The youngsters are given the opportunity to do things they have never tried before.
“When I first started there were not the sleep-overs and camp out, but now there is lots of activities and badges.”
Joan’s enthusiasm has encouraged her children and grandchildren to become involved. Her three sons attended scouts, with one, Brian, 46, staying in as a beaver leader before he joined the 1st Lancashire regiment, where he is now a sergeant.
Her daughter, Michelle, 45, joined the Rangers and Ventures and is now an assistant beaver leader, as well as a fellow scouter in charge of Leyland St Ambrose and district beaver leader for South Ribble.
The family enthusiasm does not end there as Michelle’s children are heavily involved.
Tiffany, 20, is a beaver leader and has achieved her wood beads; Bradley, 17, is a young leader with beavers and scouts and 14-year-old Finlay is a cubs’ young leader.
Joan, who works at Caritas Care, in Ashton, which is a day centre for adults with learning disabilities, added: “I am so proud the family has joined me in volunteering.”
Members of Leyland St Ambrose Scout Group showed their appreciation for Joan’s dedication by awarding her a Chief Scout Commendation.
She added: “I was very surprised and delighted with the award. The group held a party for me, with a bouncy castle, circus skills, candy floss and a wonderful cake. A few young adult beavers when I started and district leaders came, which was a lovely surprise.
“Our Cub Scouts celebrated their 100th anniversary this year, so it was all very fitting. I hope to continue as long as I can.”