Mum was my ‘inspiration’ and Peter’s Scouting dream was fulfilled

Mr. Denis Desmond, CBE, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant for County Londonderry and Mrs Annick Desmond, pictured with Jean Caulfield (Leader) and Paul Meikle (County Commissioner) during the First Castlerock Beaver Scouts Thanksgiving Service at Christ Church Castlerock. INCR3-332PL
Mr. Denis Desmond, CBE, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant for County Londonderry and Mrs Annick Desmond, pictured with Jean Caulfield (Leader) and Paul Meikle (County Commissioner) during the First Castlerock Beaver Scouts Thanksgiving Service at Christ Church Castlerock. INCR3-332PL

He would have been very proud. Jean Caulfield MBE, paid a wonderful tribute to the late Peter Thompson followingthe 40th anniversary Service of Thanksgiving for Castlerock Beaver Scouts

Jean, who has devoted forty years of her life to scoutin, spoke fondly of her memories of the man who has a hall dedicaed after him in the seaside village - and also of her late mum’s hitherto unknown influence.

Jean Caulfield (Leader) with Max Friel and Jamie Pollock at the First Castlerock Beaver Scouts Thanksgiving Service at Christ Church Castlerock. INCR3-331PL

Jean Caulfield (Leader) with Max Friel and Jamie Pollock at the First Castlerock Beaver Scouts Thanksgiving Service at Christ Church Castlerock. INCR3-331PL

Peter, who took up a technical post in the New University of Ulster, came to live in Castlerock with his wife Donna Jean told the assembled guests in Christchurch Hall: “It wasn’t long before Peter joined First Castlerock Scout Group. Our Group was founded in 1918 by the late Canon Chamberlain, a curate at that time in this very Church, but in 1968 Peter found there were only ten cubs and six scouts. “ One of the members at that time was Geoffery Warke who still has an association with our Scouts today and is presently a Scout Leader.

“Soon the numbers were increasing and this was causing a problem as the accommodation where they met in the British Legion Hall near Castlerock crossroads was no longer big enough.

“The two sections began holding meetings in St Paul’s Church Hall Articlave, the Hezlett School, the old Guysmere Hall, Castlerock Orange Hall and even Peter and Donna’s home. To solve this problem, Peter’s ambition was to build a Scout Hall in Castlerock. It took a lot of time and effort to get permission and then the fundraising began.”

Jean recalled that it was decided to hold a Grand Summer Fair on August 5, 1975 and her mother, who was recovering from a stroke, was a enthusiastic in her supporter.

She recalled: “To fundraise she decided to make paper carnations out of serviettes for sale on the day and she spent the winter months making hundreds of them. When the better weather came she decided to make scones, freeze them and have them for sale at the fair. She approached Neills Flour Mills in Belfast to donate a bag of flour which they did and just as she was about to start she had the misfortune to have another massive stroke which took her life on June 4, 1975 aged 56.

“This left a massive void in my heart. I soon realised that I would have to find something to redirect that love.

“In November that year the Cubs Parents Night was held in the Hezlett School. Brian Simpson was the Group Scout Leader. During the evening he announced that a younger section aged from six to eight years had been formed in Belfast called Beavers and looking around the hall he thought there would be enough boys to start a Colony in Castlerock. I immediately decided: ‘That’s what I’ll do, I’ll start a Beaver Colony in my mother’s memory’.

“On 16th January 1976 in the dining room of our guesthouse, which was just across the road from this church, First Castlerock Beavers were founded. We continued to meet there each Friday for three years until the first Peter Thompson Hall was opened in August 1979.

“From day one Beavers have continued to be one of the greatest joys of my life.

“As many of you will know Peter Thompson never saw his hall dream fulfilled. He was relocated to England and a short time later died in hospital following a simple operation. However his name lives on in the Peter Thompson Hall.

“He would have been so proud today to see the Castlerock Scout Group with over 100 Scouts and twenty two leaders plus helpers.”

Earlier in the day a Thanksgiving Service was held in Christchurch, attended by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenan Denis Desmond, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Michelle Knight-McQuillan, Adrian McQuillan MLA, councillor William King, Colin Lammey Chief Scout of Northern Ireland and Paul Meikle County Commissioner for Londonderry.

Jean added: “I would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt thanks to all the past and present leaders and helpers. “Without their commitment over the past forty years the success of Beavers in Castlerock would not have been possible.

“We want to express our sincere thanks to everyone who has taken part in our Service today and especially to the Rev Diane Matchett, Rev Adam Quigley, Kathryn our organist and the Vestry of Christ Church for allowing us the use of this lovely building for our Thanksgiving Service.”