Gilwell Park is the home of World Scouting and its main activity Centre.
In 2007, the East Herts Woodturners were invited to demonstrate woodturning at the 21st World Scout Jamboree, held at Hylands Park in Essex. At that event many young people wanted to try woodturning, although we were not set up to enable them to do so.
But in 2010, the club was invited to an annual activity weekend for 14-18 year old Scouts and Guides at Gilwell Park near London.
At this event, known as Gilwell 24, the East Herts team set up hands-on woodturning opportunities for the scouts and guides in a 80ft by 40ft marquee. Since then, East Herts Woodturners have organised hands-on woodturning at all subsequent Gilwell 24 events; so 2016 was the seventh year of hands-on woodturning at Gilwell 24.
Action packed 24 hours
Gilwell 24 is a 24 hour activity-packed event with many activities for the young people to try. In addition to woodturning, these activities include climbing and abseiling, driving cars, rope making, circus skills, water sliding, bricklaying and many others. Although the event lasts from 9am on the Saturday to 9am on the Sunday, for safety reasons, the woodturning only operated from 9am to 6.30pm.
In addition to the hands-on woodturning sessions, there was a display of woodturned items and the AWGB South East Region Rep, Colin Smith, demonstrated woodturning. There was also the opportunity to purchase some woodturned souvenirs.
Prior to going on a lathe, each student was given brief safety training. After the safety instruction they were allocated to a lathe and, under the close supervision of an experienced turner, made a small wooden item such as a whistle, a pen, a mushroom, a wand or something similar. When they re-joined their mates they proudly showed off their handiwork.
Over 2,800 young people have experienced woodturning thanks to East Herts Woodturners
In addition to the seven Gilwell 24s and the 2007 World Jamboree, East Herts Woodturners have organised or helped organise hands-on woodturning at four week-long Scout Jamborees in Cambridgeshire (twice), Kent and Norfolk.
They have also organised several hands-on woodturning events for local scout groups. Over this period, more than 2,850 young people have experienced hands-on woodturning. None of this would have been possible without the support of many members from a number of clubs and several volunteer professional turners.
At Gilwell 24 this year, with eleven experienced turners each supervising a lathe, about 130 young people and their leaders experienced hands-on woodturning. In addition to the turners supervising training lathes, a dozen other people ensured the smooth running of the woodturning base. The activity was visited by the Master and a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Turners.
In the last few years, many of these hands-on woodturning events have been organised by East Herts Woodturners on behalf the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (AWGB).
The East Herts Woodturners and the AWGB gratefully acknowledge the support of Axminster Tools and Machinery, Birchanger Wood Trust, Chestnut Products, Henry Taylor Tools, Staples, the Worshipful Company of Turners, Paul Howard, Phil Jones and the members of Cambridge and Chelmer Woodturning clubs as well as members of the East Herts Club.
By John Leach,
East Herts Woodturners