Can you help save Hatfield scout group? Leader’s plea for support
PUBLISHED: 12:41 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:41 05 November 2019
A Hatfield scout group is facing closure – unless a new base can be found.
The 3rd Hatfield Air Scouts has been moved several times in the last few years, and is now one of only three Hatfield groups left in the town after six others folded.
First the group moved due to subsidence related to historic chalk mining, before a base was repurposed by Hatfield House as a wedding venue. The current HQ in Birchwood is not permanent either, due to a lease expiring in 18 months, and has run down facilities.
The two other remaining groups - the 7th Hatfield (South) Scouts and the Chimera Explorers, for older children in the scouting family - are also based at Birchwood.
READ MORE: Stroll back through Hatfield's history thanks to Hatfield Air Scouts
The 7th group has had venue problems too, with its original home in Bluebell Hill Wood abandoned and eventually demolished due to repeated arson attacks and vandalism.
It began sharing the Birchwood site - where the Chimera Explorers have been since 2007 - after the cost of hiring the Jim McDonald Centre's hall escalated in 2016, but in the longer term plans to use Section 106 money from the High View development to build a more secure property.
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A new base for the 3rd group would also need sufficient space to host the explorers group - who use the hut once a week and have 30 young people aged 10-14.
Simone Roberts, group leader for the 3rd Hatfield Air Scouts, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: "We've been unable to secure rented accommodation due to a lack of availability, storage and commercial rental costs. We are also too large to fit in a church hall."
If the groups are able to build two facilities then Simone also thinks it could support Hatfield-based Potential Kids, a charity which supports neurodiverse young people and their families, and various other groups.
"We are supporting young people with various disabilities and additional needs so both buildings will accommodate and be available for use by the entire community," she said.
"Our young people come from all areas of the community, several of which are receiving additional financial support. Scouting is not only for middle class people as sometimes it is construed - in fact it is almost the opposite."
Hatfield Town Council leader Lenny Brandon said he would do his best to secure a premise or upgrade the Birchwood site.
"They haven't got any funding or help, but we will do as much as we can," he said.