When Byron Burton joined the Scout Association as a Cub Scout some 70 years ago, he could never have dreamed that the decision would put him on track to receive a rare and special honour.
In 1951, at the age of 17, and having gone through all other levels in the scouting hierarchy, Mr. Burton rose to the organisation's highest position, which is that of Queen’s Scout. The achievement was made all the more significant because Mr. Burton was one of the first persons in the British Commonwealth to receive the title.
Interestingly, Mr. Burton and three other scouts were awarded the title of King Scout in 1951 but Burton, for whatever reason, was not given the accompanying badge at that time.
He would receive it the following year in 1952, but by that time, the then British monarch, King George VI had died, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had ascended to the throne. As the award coincides with the gender of the sitting monarch of England, Burton was made a Queen’s Scout.
“By 1951 all my other three colleagues got their badge at that time. I didn’t get mine and was very, very disappointed. We had the first Caribbean Jamboree by Up Park Camp in those days and they had theirs; I didn’t have mine.
“But, I never realized that it was just fate working because by the time we had the coronation – remember, Her Majesty took the throne in 1952 – I became the first Queen’s Scout,” the now 77 year-old boasts.
Mr. Burton states that he joined scouting because of the influence of his father, who was a scoutmaster and counts the decision to remain in the organisation, as easily one of the best choices he has ever made.
“Scouting is the greatest leadership training organisation and still is, in the world today, because… a scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other scout, no matter to what country class or creed he belongs,” the Queen’s Scout says.
For Mr. Burton, the best part of scouting is camping. “Scouting is an outing and the greatest thing is camping and the journeys and all that you have to take. I remember when I was taking my journeys,” the Queens Scout fondly recalls.
Despite the colonial ties of his award, Mr. Burton insists that Jamaica, now in its 50th year of Independence, is ready to cast off its colonial heritage and become fully independent.
“I’m 77 now and looking back over that time I’m so proud to see that we have come up now as world leaders and I fully agree and I think that Jamaica is ready now to take a leadership role,” he states.
Being a proud Jamaican, Mr. Burton is sending a special invitation to all scouts around the world to visit or even settle in the country if they get the chance.
“I would encourage all my brothers, which is millions, and sisters in scouting to try and spend their retirement here in Jamaica,” Mr. Burton says.
The mission of the Scout Association is to develop good citizenship among boys/girls; form their character; train them in habits of observation, obedience and self-reliance; inculcate loyalty and thoughtfulness for others; and teach them services useful to the country, and skills useful to themselves.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter