In our previous posts we have been talking about our foundation and about the journey we have had throughout these 25 years.
This time, we will talk about a very important person as one of the people who was present since the beginning of our Federation.
He was not only the first Chairman of WFIS, but he was a very close person to everyone who knew him. Those who knew him say that he was a cheerful and serious person, honest and generous, with very his own phrases.
Here we tell you a little about …
Lawrie (Lawrence George William Hewitt Armstrong Hyphen) Dring was born on Dundee Railway Station (East of Scotland) due to the fact his mother, Florence, was trying to get back to Leeds (West Yorkshire-UK) so he could be a Yorkshireman. Even though he spent most of his life in Yorkshire he was a true Scotsman.
He was enlisted into the Gordon Highlanders by his father who was an Army Recruitment Officer and served initially in Wuppertal, Germany (where he was asked to help run a cub pack by a colleague) and then in Korea (where he was invested as a Rover Scout).
After being injured and upon leaving the army he joined Fisons Chemicals.
He joined the 22nd North West (Leeds) and soon became the ADC (Senior Scouts) running expeditions to Norway and Switzerland in the late 50’s / early 60’s.
In 1966 when the “The Chief Scouts’ Advance Party Report” was adopted and the Scout Association in England moved away from traditional scouting, Lawrie and three others eventually formed the Baden-Powell Scouts Association in 1970.
He was the Area Advisor (Yorkshire) for the B-PSA and in 1973 on a cold Thursday evening he came to Stanley to help out with a fledgling group, He was head hunted in 1973 by Allied Colloids. He travelled all over the world in his capacity as chief buyer and was able to cultivate many scouting contacts and friends over the years but especially in Australia, Canada and South Africa. He remained at Allied Colloids as the Chief Buyer until his retirement in 1991.
In nearly 40 years as a Scouter (over 30 of which he was Scouter in charge or GSM) for the First Yorkshire he shaped and moulded the lives of much of Stanley’s youth. Organising and running expeditions not just in the UK but to Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Poland, South Africa, Switzerland and America giving the scouts a chance to make friends from all over the world.
He was chairman of the BPSA-UK National Committee in the early 1980’s and in 1992 became National President until becoming Chief Commissioner in the 2008. He was also International Commissioner.
With all the contacts established during his business trips in four continents – all not being part of WOSM – Lawrie thought at the beginning oft he 90th of providing a “roof” for all small and independent operating scout associations worldwide. The initial idea was to exchange information through regularly circulars and to have common camps and leadership training.
In 1994 he was the catalyst for the BPSA’s first Rover Moot which was attended by Rovers from Australia, Japan, Lithuania, New Zealand and South Africa. This proved, that the idea of “World Federation of Independent Scouts” could work well fort he benefit of all participating associations.
His love of sayings will be remembered by many:
“If nothing changes it’ll stay the same“
“Are you alright, no you’re not, you’re half left”
“Those who live the longest will see the most (except a blind man)”
“It’s all meat a real treat”
But probably most the one most dear to him was
“You only get out of scouting what you put in”
His driving always left something to be desired and when he got his first automatic not only the scouts but his Transport manager breathed a sigh of relief.
He was always immaculate in Scout Uniform or business suit but it was his casual dress that drew the looks. White, sky blue and even lime green safari suits. Scotland rugby suits and dazzling white trainers.
He loved his cup of tea and always drank it if a scout had gone to the effort of making him one. The only time he couldn’t was when it was made with the left over hot dog water.
His kit inspections often led to bouts of laughter. On one such occasion he was pointing to something out of place and shouted “What is that” just as a bird flew over and dropped it’s load on his finger. The PL paused then said “It’s bird excrement Bob”. Going redder and
redder he finally replied “Well get it off then”.
He had a great sense of humour and always had a camp fire yarn or three.
His generosity showed no end and he always had time and a supportive word. He cared a great deal for all the scouts and show empathy yet quiet discipline in all he did.
He loved history, especially military and his musical taste was somewhat eclectic, varying from the classics to Vic Damone.
Some of the scouts were asked to write a memory of him, some of which were:
“He always gave up his time for me”
“Lawrie used to tell me lots of jokes. They weren’t always funny.”
“He always put at the end of a prayer ‘Lord if we forget you then please don’t forget us’”
But I think it’s fitting if we finish on this:
“If we forget you Lord, then please don’t forget Lawrie”
Lawrie Dring passed away on September 6th, 2012.
Lawrie`s funeral took place on 21 September 2012 at the Holy Trinity Church at Rothwell. His coffin was met by an honour guard of Scouts and leaders from several Scout associations and various countries and was carried by Scouts from First Yorkshire B-P Scout Group. The service was conducted by the Reverend Jeremy Trigg, who had been one of Lawrie Dring’s Wolf Cubs. The committal took place at Stanley Cemetery. We’ll never forget that great scouter!