St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, Leeds Centenary Book.1905-2005

St Augustine’s Cubs & Scouts

A Cub Pack was founded in 1956 by William (Bill) Podmore who worked as a nurse at St James Hospital. The first meeting was held in the schoolroom and about 45 would-be cubs and a few cubs from other packs, such as The Holy Rosary, turned up all eager to join. The number was trimmed down to a manageable 36 and the 5th North East Leeds Cub Pack was born.

Two years later the Scout Troop was started under the leadership of “Skip” Leatham and Assistant “Murphy”. Expertise was developed in backwoodsmanship, pioneering, cooking, first aid as well as many other outdoor activities. The Troop soon made an impact within the North East District by winning various camping competitions and walking away with the annual swimming trophy. The lads were always well turned out and were quite conspicuous with their green shirts and white neckerchiefs with green trim. Subsequent leaders within the group were George Hardcastle, Peter Halliday, Bill Halliday, Fr. Thomas Joseph Kenny, Graham J. Cracknell and Ken Beaumont. Eventually a Senior Scout Troop was also formed and several members went on to achieve the Queens Scout Award, the first two being Graham Cracknell and David Copley in 1962.

Throughout, the Group was well supported by a committee of parents who devoted a lot of their time and effort in raising funds to provide camping equipment and utensils. Through their efforts they raised many hundreds of pounds and supplied a range of top quality equipment that was the envy of other Troops. This enabled the Troop to attend camps all over the UK (the first ever being in a field at the back of the Catholic Church in Aberford) and also in Europe. During its existence the Troop was always up with the leaders in competitions both at District and County level.

Graham Cracknell recalls: “Fr. Kenny also took an interest in scouting and he worked tirelessly with the Scoutmaster, George Hardcastle, to involve parental support and raise money for the troop. Their efforts opened a new world for us, from our normal routine of playing football on cobbled streets, we were taken hiking and camping throughout England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden. Travelling any distance in those days was a rarity. Boys I remember included Tim Tristram, Johnny Roberts, Peter Hardcastle, Mark Smith, Charlie Nolan and Philip Maher, and many others besides. We would all acknowledge that we owed a great debt to Fr Kenny and George Hardcastle for all their efforts.”


David Copley & Graham Cracknell receiving the Queen’s Scout award in 1962.

Above left: Bill Podmore drinking tea talking to Jack Thornton.

Above: Cubs & scouts in 1960.

Above right: Winnie Gurnell pouring tea for Laurie . Illingworth. Also in the picture is Mrs Illingworth.

Right: Mr Fulthorpe, scoutmaster and caretaker.