Our Members

Members of the Deep Sea Scouts come from a range of backgrounds, and take part in a variety of Scouting activities, both as a member of the DSS and in other Scouting roles.  Here are profiles of some of our members:

Tom Jowett - DSS Manager

I joined Scouts as a ‘Wolf Cub’ and progressed up through Scouts & Ventures, until employment as a Deck Cadet rather interfered with Scouting.  My original plan was to become a leader alongside working at sea; so chose Venture Scouts – believing the idea that they would be self-running & not require full-time supervision.  Big mistake!

I served at sea with Reardon Smith Lines, gaining “Tickets” and promotion up to “Masters” & being Chief officer on their General Cargo and Bulk Carrier fleet, before going out to SEAsia to superintend ships loading timber products.  I returned to work on small coasters, finishing my seagoing time on heavy-lift ships. I am currently lecturing to Deck Cadets – teaching them what I had to study – ??? years ago.

Active (i.e. daily/weekly) Scouting activities took a back-seat, but I became a DSS fairly early on & kept in touch whilst working at sea, spending leave time as a service team member at local & national camp sites. I became (? Should be ‘was conned’?) secretary of DSSF, and when we became a National Scout Active Support Unit, my title became Manager.  This required finally taking the various training modules & achieving the “beads”.

Don Taylor - DSS Vice Chair

Many moons ago – when Nelson got his first Sea Boot or Baden Powell whittled his first beads – at the grand age of 8 years I became a Cub, then Scout, Venture Scout and Assistant Cub Scout Leader. Through my time in the Venture Scouts I became interested in large yacht sailing and became a Boatswain with the Ocean Youth Club. I joined the Police Service, which gave me the time to carry on with my Scouting and Sailing and eventually I worked my way up through the Ocean Youth Club to become a 1st Mate, then Relief Skipper.

The Ocean Youth Club having been dissolved, I switched to aviation and gained my Pilot’s Licence. Continuing to sail on an add hock basis, I chartered yachts out of season taking Venture Scouts and Leaders sailing in and around the Cornish Coast and estuaries at weekends, and to the Channel Islands on longer cruises with leaders only.

I have held many roles within Scouting including Venture Scout Leader, Group Scout Leader, Assistant District Commissioner (Venture Scouts) and District Chairman.

As the sea was in my blood I also became involved with the Sea Cadet Corps and as an Officer in the Navy Training Corps, teaching Navigation and Seamanship. This led onto becoming a Power Boat Instructor and a VHF SRC radio Assessor and Instructor. I also sail with the Jubilee Sailing Trust as a Watch Leader on both Lord Nelson and Tenacious, and I am now involved with assisting with my local Scout County, Cornwall as a Power Boat Assessor and Advisor on the County Water Sports Team.

Stephen Pridmore - DSS Treasurer

Greetings from Much Wenlock, the birthplace of the modern Olympian Games in 1850 (www.wenlock-olympian-society.org.uk).

My Scouting started as a Venture Scout when a new Venture Scout Unit was opened at my school.  I became a Cub Scout Instructor to complete the community service for my Venture Scout Award and Queen Scout Award, and in common with many others carried on as a leader afterwards.  I have at various times been an Assistant Cub Scout Leader, Cub Scout Leader, Assistant Scout Leader & Scout Leader, gaining my Wood Badge in April 1983.

I went to Newcastle University after leaving school and took a degree in Naval Architecture & Shipbuilding.  I started my career at sea as an Officer Trainee with The Blue Star Line in 1978. I say Officer Trainee because back then Blue Star used this rank to distinguish graduate entrants from “O” & “A” level Cadet entrants. I gained my certificates and progressed through the ranks to Captain.  My original intention was to come back ashore after gaining my 2nd Mates certificate & learning how ships worked in order to design ships but there weren’t many jobs in the UK shipyards by 1983 and life at sea beckoned…. I am currently one of two Masters of the Maersk Line container ship “Maersk La Paz”. The Blue Star Line container fleet was taken over by P&O Nedlloyd in 1998-99 which was subsequently taken over by Maersk Line in 2005 so I now have 38 years continuous service and counting.

I have been a member of the DSS in its various incarnations since I came to sea in 1978 and, when ships had longer stays in port, it enabled me to make contact with local Scouts in Durban & Auckland.  I gave up “full time” scouting when family commitments and alternative activities took priority but have always maintained my interest through the DSS. I took over the role of DSS Treasurer unofficially in 2013 and officially from the 2014 AGM.

Chris Lines - Tall Ship Coordinator

I started scouting in 1958 with the 40th New England Cubs in Peterborough, moving to my school scout troop and when that closed to the 19th Harris Street troop. Becoming a Senior Scout but avoiding having to buy the horrible new uniform in 1968 as I went off to the School of Navigation in Warsash for a year of pre-sea training. Fortunately my Scout Leader knew about the DSS and persuaded me to join.

After pre-sea I joined Shaw Savill & Albion serving on their Refer ships. With the demise the British MN in 1971, I moved to Indo-China Steam Nav Co. in Hong Kong, serving on their dry cargo/ bulk carriers worldwide. In 1979 I suddenly acquired a family and so moved to the North Sea, initially on a dive ship, then AH/Supply vessels. In 1982 my employer, Seaforth Maritime took on the management of the MSV Stadive for Shell Expro, offering me a dynamic positioning (DP) operator position. I stayed there, taking command in 1989, when in 1995 she was sold to a Brazilian for conversion into a semi-sub drilling rig, so I ended up offshore Brazil, much nicer than the North Sea. I retired in 2005. Since then I have become more involved with the Skegness Sea Scouts and where I am currently the Group Scout Leader (GSL).

Robert Darnton - Member on the South Coast

I became one of the younger members when I joined the Deep Sea Scouts in 2014, which followed on from my time as an honorary Midshipman in the Royal Navy Reserve at Southampton University Royal Naval Unit.  Whilst there I benefitted from training aboard the Archer-class P2000 patrol ship HMS Blazer.  I am an RYA Instructor for dingy sailing and powerboating, and hold the Yacht Master qualification.

In Scouting, I have spent time as an Assistant Explorer Scout Leader and Assistant Scout Leader in Surrey, but my work life has taken me away from these roles.  I am also in the Queens Scout Working Party, and a member of crew at the Docklands Scout Project and Discovery Sailing Project.

Geoff Wheatley - Member on the South Coast

Born 1945 in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent into a Royal Navy family, tracked back five generations. 1946 saw my parents take over a public house in the town, conveniently named the ‘Man of Kent’. Men of Kent are those born south of the Medway.

Geoff & Pauline with grandson Thomas (now a Scout)

My education was standard: infant, primary and secondary schools. At 14 I transferred to TS (Training Ships) Arethusa, a four masted steel barque, moored in the River Medway. My answer to joining the Royal Navy. During my two years onboard I excelled in seamanship, which in my last term I taught to the ‘nozzers’.

I served twenty four years in the RN as an aircraft engineer. I met and married Pauline and we have a son and two daughters, who have given us seven grandchildren and two great grandsons.

I originally joined DSS whilst teaching at the Air Engineering School. We moved to Weymouth in 1980, and found that our local Scout Group were Sea Scouts! Since then Pauline and I have been in many roles, from ASL (both), SL, GSL, Treasurer (P). Now, I am ADC Comms/PR and webmaster for my local district, whilst Pauline is the District Treasurer.

Mark Marshall - Member in Kent

I am semi-retried, with a background in training & development, adult and youth education, and supporting the development of social skills. I am always happy to help groups in need of an extra pair of hands. My first vocation as a trained chef has provided me with a huge amount of experience in cooking/catering for large numbers, and I have put this to good use as a camp cook for groups many times.

Stephen Crawford - Member in London

I joined DSS in 1972, the same time I signed up with Shaw Savill & Albion Line. Nicknamed Slow Starvation & Agony. I worked my way up from Deck Cadet to 1st Mate, gaining my Masters in 1985. All land based completed at Warsash nautical college. Cadets were allowed on 'shore leave' Tuesday evenings and all day Saturday (only churches were open on Sundays). So Sunday was a rest, study or sailing day - I chose sailing mostly, lovely area, the River Hamble and Southampton Water). I also got extra 'leave' by helping out the local Sea Scout Group at Locksheath.

I came ashore in 1993 to take up a new career in teaching, studying at the University of Greenwich. I taught Mathematics at Leytonstone Secondary School for 17 years (same classroom, and the children moan for being there for just 5 years). I am now retired, and try to get as much sailing as possible on the River Blackwater. I sail a Bay Raider 17, built by Swallow Boats, now re-branded as Swallow Yachts.

I joined the cubs for a short while, left and re joined as a Scout in 1965 after I saw my art teacher editing a film (standard 8) of Scouts at camp. I spoke to him, and have been a Scout ever since. Doug Mountford was a fantastic Sea Scout Leader, I really enjoyed my Scouting with him and learnt a great deal about sailing and all things nautical. I could never quite feel right about calling him Doug at Scouts and Sir at School.

In my time I have been ADC Scouts Ilford East, Instructor, ASL, SL and GSL. I was also the County Multi-Media Adviser for GLNE (I only did the presentations but the CC needed a title for the role). I currently run the Beaver Scouts, assist with the Troop and Explorer Scouts in Ilford North West. Who said retirement would be restful? Happy Scouting

Stephen Crawford

Ron and Sylvie Bird - Members in New Zealand

Ron joined the York Sea Scouts when he was 12 years old and have been involved ever since (64 years now) in various leadership roles.

Ron was a member of the working group of the 1965 Chiefs Scout's Advance Party which met in London several times and joined the Deep Sea Scouts when he joined the Merchant Navy as an engineer officer.  He remained a member even after we and our young family migrated to New Zealand in December 1969. Ron became a leader in the NZ Sea Scouts two days after our arrival here as the manager of the company who brought us over was a local Scout Commissioner.

In 2007 we shipped to the UK and back, two new 5.2 metre cutters - which are used by Sea Scouts, Sea Cadets and Young Mariners (girls) in New Zealand - to be used at the Splash water activity site of the centennial Jamboree in England.

The New Zealand Deep Sea Scout branch was very active at this time and Ron held membership of both UK and New Zealand crews.

Sylvia became a DSS member in 2009 and was formally invested in England after years in a support role and we both assisted at the Sea Scout 100 Regatta / Jamboree in UK.  After which it was off to St Andrews in Scotland to the grave of Warington Baden-Powell and his New Zealand born wife Cecilia to a special event to mark the occasion.  Warington founded the Sea Scouts after being requested to do so by his younger brother Robert "BP".

A special Sea Scout centennial flag was created by us both here in New Zealand in 2009, and it is still doing the rounds on the international Sea Scout scene as Sea Scout Groups mark the anniversary of their Groups etc.

Attendance at four Eurosea conferences and our day work in Hong Kong, Fiji, Chile and some South Pacific countries has resulted in many international Sea Scout friends world wide.

Ron was awarded the Queens Service Medal for services to youth (not just Scouting) in 1992.

Russ Laye - Member in Somerset

Hi eveyone, my Scouting history starts with the Frome Cubs back in the late 60’s then progressing to the Scouts and finally the Wadbury Venture Scouts.  During this time I managed to earn a decent collection of badges and awards, including the Chief Scouts Award and the Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh's Award.  I never finished the Gold D of E as in 1979 following the World Jamboree, I ran off and joined the Royal Navy as a Stoker.

I joined the DSS for the first time in 1980 whilst on board the County-class destroyer HMS Norfolk.

Fast forward lots of year and I have rejoined the Scouting family, I only regret not doing it sooner.  I am currently helping out with 10th Frome Scouts and an looking at taking on more.

If you are a member of the DSS and would like to have your profile added, please submit it using the contact form to the Webmaster, or email direct at:

webmaster at deepseascouts dot org dot uk