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Paul Cope

Paul Cope

My name is Paul Cope and I was originally born down in Bedfordshire but moved to Colsterworth when I was nine in 1991. I have lived up here ever since though I now live in South Witham with my wife. My parents still live in Colsterworth. I have got one brother and one sister. My sister is 27 (and is going to have a baby any day now!) and my younger brother is 11 and has just left the village school to move to King's School in Grantham.

I went to the village school for about 3 years until I left to go to secondary school in Grantham. I joined the Scouts when I was about 11 that would be in 1993. I had been in the Beavers and the Cubs, the junior version of the Scouts, when I was younger so it was a natural thing to join the Scouts when I came up here. We did some good fun- activities which I liked. We met every Wednesday from 7 until 9 o'clock in the Village Hall. We would start off by getting into our patrols. I think I was an Owl but I can't really remember. We said the Scout Promise and then Chris Townson, who was the Scout leader at the time, would tell us what we were going to do for the evening.

We used to do lots of different things like knot tying, cookery, First Aid or Art work and then we would finish up with a game of some sort. If it was nice we would go outside and play football. Chris could be quite firm, he would soon pull you back in if you stepped out of line. But you could have a good laugh with him. We would go camping at the campsite at Ancaster. We would go for a week-end camping, pitching our tents. This was a proper camp-site and there were proper toilets there, we didn't have to dig holes. We did rock-climbing and hiking.

We did plenty of hikes in Derbyshire where we camped near the Ladybower Reservoir. We would take a 3-man tent. One would carry the canvas, one the poles and one the pegs and the cooking equipment. This camp was near a farm and we used to go to the farm to go to the toilet and to get fresh water. We cooked for ourselves; we had a little portable camping stove and little mess tins. We cooked hydrated stuff including puddings like dehydrated mousse. Actually, I liked the dehydrated breakfasts, beans, bacon and sausage, all in one. It was all right after a day's hiking or a cold wet night's sleep in a tent. We took all our stuff with us, carrying it in a big rucksack when we hiked. We hiked all round the Ladybower Reservoir, and up mountains like Mam Tor at Castleton - avoiding the sheep.

' A Day in the Life of a Colsterworth Scout'

On Saturday 23rd July, the boys from Colsterworth Scouts who were doing their Pathfinder Award set out for Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District. This was because one of the Pathfinder tasks is to undergo a 2-day expedition. We had decided to spend a day cycling and a day walking. We had been planning the expedition for some time and, after a few reminders in map reading followed by a practice walk along the old railway line, the day had finally arrived. The group consisted of Oliver Townson, Richard Skins, Paul Hinchcliffe and myself with Chris Townson there to keep as eye on us. We left Colsterworth at about 07.05 hrs and arrived at Ladybower Reservoir at about 09.00 hrs. We started our cycle around Ladybower Reservoir at about 10.00 hrs.

The first day went smoothly with lots of hills to go up. To transport our backpacks whist cycling we had attached a small trailer to Richard's bike. We took it in turns to ride his bike so that we all pulled the trailer the same distance. The trailer was heavy and hard work to pull. We had our lunch break at 12.38 hrs after going over rough ground. In our lunch break we went for a paddle in a stream to cool off as it was a hot day. Then we set off again. We finished cycling at about 16.00 hrs when we met Cora Townson who brought us all an ice-cream and took our bikes to Rowley Farm where we would all be spending the night. We all put our rucksacks on and then set off on a 5 km trek, mainly uphill. About 2 km from the farm we came to a pool and we all splashed water on our faces to cool off. We arrived at Rowley Farm at 16.30, an hour ahead of schedule.

At Rowley Farm we were plagued with midges. In the morning we woke at 06.30 hrs and started walking at 08.10 hrs, 10 minutes late. It was a foggy day so we had to rely completely on the map for guidance. We walked over bogs most of the time, and as the day progressed, the mist slowly rose and the sun shone through making it a nice day. Unfortunately the sun didn't last long. We came to a stream about 2.5 kms from our destination and paddled in it to cool down. Then we started off again. We were walking on the Pennine Way when the heavens opened and we got soaked. We kept walking and walked past a dead sheep. We arrived at our destination at 15.15 hrs, over 2 hours ahead of schedule which was a good job else we'd of all had pneumonia because of the rain.

When we arrived at our destination, we had a hot drink to warm us up. We were soaked to the skin and relieved to be finished.'

by Paul Cope, 1st Colsterworth Scouts for In Touch, May 1995

We did not normally do survival feeding, but Olly and I did a Survival Week-end as part of our Chief Scout's Challenge when we were older. There are different degrees of badges you can get in the Scouts, first the Pathfinder, then the Explorer and the highest, the Chief Scout's Challenge. The Survival Week-end was part of our Chief Scout's Challenge. We had no tent, we had to make our own shelter from trees and branches and twigs. We went and nicked a bale of hay from the farm that was over the back of the field that we were on. We were taught what plants we could eat and which were safe. We had to set traps for rabbits and then skin them. We did catch one and skinned it and wrapped it in leaves and cooked it on the fire. It tasted quite nice actually, like normal rabbit. Especially as we hadn't had much else over the week-end it tasted remarkably nice. We didn't have bread but we had all those plants like cow parsley and so on. We drank water.

I really enjoyed camping, it was good fun, out in the open air with good mates, getting away from it all, getting away from the family and all that sort of stuff. At the age of 14 you are starting on your GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education). You learned a lot of skills like the survival skills - just in case, you never know! You learned team work as when you were setting up camps and things like that, working together and relying on each other, especially on a survival week-end. We learned organisation as on the Chief Scout's Award when we had to organise our own hike. As part of this we, Olly Townson and myself, did a 147 miles bike ride. I was 15 1/2 at the time.

We cycled the whole of the Viking Way from the Humber to Oakham. We had to organise all that ourselves, and reccy some of the course. We had chosen the August Bank Holiday period because we thought we might get nice weather but it rained for the whole 3 days. That's why my bike ended up cracking because we had to cycle across some of the fields and they were just all mud which stuck to our wheels. Still, it was part and parcel of doing the hike, it added to the experience. It was supposed to take 3 days but we had to go back a fourth day because of the bike problems. We got through I don't know how many repair kits and in the end my front wheel buckled so we had to call it a day and get my bike repaired and go back and finish off about 20 miles or so another day. We finished at the library in Oakham.

When I got home I stood on the doorstep and my mum wouldn't let me in until I had stripped down to my boxers and I had hosed myself down and dried off a bit! As a troop we used to have a big part in organising the village bonfire in November. We would go round in the morning and collect wood from people who had phoned up for us to pick all this wood up in the van. We would sell the tickets beforehand and on the night and we would sell the burgers and so on as well. We also played a big part in organising the Village Gala too, selling tickets and running stalls. We didn't have a band. They tried to set up a band at Barrowby towards the end of my time in the Scouts and a couple of the members of the troupe went. Olly went and played his trumpet. Then we used to do the Remembrance Day Parade at the War Memorial here in Colsterworth and the St.George's Day Parade in Grantham.

I actually liked wearing the uniform, I was quite proud of it. It was a big part of the Scouts, the uniform. We didn't have a beret when I was in. We did not have hats, they had been faded out. We had a green shirt and a purple and gold neckerchief which were our colours. I got lots of badges. For the Pathfinders, the first stage, you had to take part in a 2-day hike with an over-night camp. Map-reading was part of this badge. Most of the hikes we went on we were given the check points and we had to navigate ourselves. The hikes got longer and harder as you went on (like the 147-mile one where we had to plot our own route and mark our own check points for ourselves).

Also we did the First Aid badge where we all took the First Aid course and then we all got the badge. Others were more individual like knot-tying, rock climbing, canoeing, swimming - they are all in the Scouts handbook which tells you what to do to achieve each badge. I got the cooking badge after going in for a cookery competition. I cooked tagliatelle. We used to go out to Bourne swimming pool to practice the canoeing. We practised getting out of the canoe when it had capsized. Then we went to Woodland Waters over at Ancaster where we did capsizing and rolls and that sort of thing. If I were a Scout recruiter I would say what good fun it all was. I really enjoyed being out in the fresh air. We got absolutely soaked on some of the camps we went on but it was all part of the fun.

Being in the Scouts helps your confidence and you enjoy the camaraderie; the big change whilst I was in the Scouts was that they began to let girls come in. When I started it was Scouts for the boys and Guides for the girls. My sister and Olly's sister, Amy, joined. They did the same things as the boys, the rock-climbing and the abseiling and the canoeing and that sort of thing. They had to carry their own stuff on hikes! The only difference was that they had to have their own tent. I could never understand why the girls were allowed into the Scouts but the boys weren't allowed into the Guides! I was quite sorry to have to leave the Scouts which you have to do at the age of 15 1/2.

After the Scouts, the next stage is the Venture Scouts but they met in Grantham on a Monday night and that clashed with the Colsterworth Music and Drama practice evenings. So I had to choose between the Scouts and the Drama group and I chose the Drama. After I had taken all my GCSE exams, I went to Nottingham to train to be a teacher. On my first year I wasn't sure about it but I stuck with it and I really enjoyed it. We took a group of inner-city children to Anglesey camping for a week and that was brilliant. This was during my first year. I had done the entire camping bit in the Scouts so I knew what I was doing.

I got a job at Barnack Primary School and I am about at the end of my third year there now. The first couple of years I really enjoyed it, enjoyed the kids and enjoyed the challenges and got on really well with the staff but this year has had a downwards turn a bit. I feel stuck in a rut and I am considering a change. I am thinking of going into sports coaching and going round Peterborough schools and stadiums, in the School Sports and Partnership that they have in Peterborough, doing sport and P.E. (Physical Training).

I would specialise in football but would deliver a variety of sports as well. I joined the MADS (Music and Drama Group) after a chance meeting that my mum had with Margaret Wright at school. They were talking about drama, and I had done a lot of that at school and taken Drama A-levels. It was suggested that I should go down one Monday and give the group a trial and I have been with them ever since. I think that was in 1997 and I have had 10 years of taking different roles.

The number of times I have ended up wearing women's clothing! I was Widow Twanky in the last pantomime we did and I have been an Ugly Sister. I have also been Frances Fryer - in a dress again - and a transvestite psychiatrist. That is 4 that I have landed up in a dress, 4 and counting! I was also Sweeney Todd in the Sweeney Todd Show. That is probably one of the parts that I enjoyed the most because I was the bad guy, and it is always good fun to play the baddie. When we did the Weird Sisters I was the fool, type-casting probably! I did the Full Monty in Bingo-Bongo as someone trying to get into show business but without a lot of talent. So I had to do this strip show at the end of the play which I hadn't told my mum I was doing. She was watching in the audience and I heard her scream!

I was Alf, a green goblin type character in another show, and I have been part of the chorus as well. My strengths? Well, certainly not the singing. That is the biggest drawback in the Drama Group, my singing. I think I am quite versatile. I like to play a variety of roles and I am good at learning lines. I am often one of the first to do without the book when we are rehearsing. I think we are doing a modern mystery next but I don't mind what part I get. I shall go down and take what they give me. As long as it is one of the male parts this time, I don't particularly want to end up in a dress again! But you never know. Acting is just my hobby. If something came along I would look at it but the job of acting is not steady enough to do seriously. I have financial commitments. I always wanted to go in for acting when I was at school but unless you can make it big in Hollywood then you are going to struggle. I don't want to spend 6 months 'resting'.

We do a Christmas play at school. The last one we did was called 'The Rainmaker' from Guatemala, I think. That was quite a serious one but we have done more panto-esque productions like Snow White. We do have good fun at school. Recently we had a circus group come in and it was great to see the kids trying to juggle. Looking back I would change one thing, and that was the way I qualified as a teacher. I would specialise for a subject degree in the first 3 years, sports or maths or something like that, and take the teaching degree, the Post Graduate Teaching Certificate in the fourth. It is still 4 years in total but then you have another degree to fall back on. I am looking forward at the moment because Clare is six weeks pregnant and I am going to be a daddy!


This page was last edited on Thursday 26-Mar-09 14:26:32 GMT


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