When someone walks into your life and makes it different, adventurous, exciting and fun then that must be someone very special…. then one hell of a special man walked into the lives of myself and 30 young boys in 1977.
Sadly yesterday the town of Letterkenny lost one of its greatest, & we said goodbye as we buried our senior scout leader, mentor and very loyal friend Maurice Graham from the Glebe Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland.
How one person can have such a huge impression on a young boy’s life as a coach mentor & leader. That was Maurice and give his time voluntarily. He was the magical glue in 1st Letterkenny scout group reuniting the troop after it was disbanded in the mid 1960’s. Having a young military background and a love for the great outdoors, it wasn’t long till we were swinging out of trees and rambling the hills of Donegal. Gartan in Churchill in Donegal and it’s magnificent beauty became our second home, with regular camps by the lake becoming the norm. Maurice Graham has this unique fun way of passing on his wilderness skills teaching how to survive naturally, using what mother nature provided (without tent) camp craft skills known as bivi. Being a first class navigator before the age of ten with relentless map & compass training, orientation was second nature and how it has stood me well in my adventure life today.
Along side the scouting skills instilled Maurice had a deeper more powerful skill in which he placed greater value, made up of manners and respect for yourself and others and he would drum this into us at each opportunity in our weekly development cub/scout meeting every Wednesday night at 7pm. Maurice was also stickler for appearance and how you dressed in your scout uniform, the scarf had to be pressed within an inch of its life. He passed on rightfully an attitude and pride in the cub/scouting uniform you wore and the values in which it held within and made no exception. Maurice demanded manners, please & thank you was always at the top of his training credentials and all this was done seamlessly, looking back we always had fun and he had this incredible smile and firmness in his beliefs.
Maurice Graham wanted the best out of you and if you showed any initiative to push on learn more then he was going to make sure your path was clear. Back then most family hadn’t much by way of money, certainly there was little room in the household budget for scouting extras.. but Maurice alway found a way forward and this without doubt was the greatest skill he passed on to us all and me personally, “always find a way” was his attitude.
He thought nothing of filling his Honda car to busting point with spotty faced cheeks pushed agains the side windows and the boot scraping the ground filled with camping gear, ropes, boots and backpacks, we could be going anywhere from the Sionnach adventure in the Mannturk mountains or Mourne mountains to Boots camp in Bangor to Peak weekend in Killarney climbing Carrauntoohal we could be for anywhere and he was ever ready. He was always exciting and adventurous to be around, seeing the best in everyone one and everything.. there’s no limits he would often say.
No joking, after we had climbed every hill in Ireland, he continuously set the barr higher & further and we loved it. And before long he put all the skill to the ultimate & greatest adventure test of a young boys life, the 154km West highland way, can you imagine 14years of age nine of us on a ten day 154km expedition, all on foot hiking and camping along the way from Glasgow to fort William in the highlands of Scotland. It was unreal, magical, unimaginable like the famous five on TV, truly the fun and friendship along the way was brilliant navigating & hiking daily camping and cooking by night.
He was the ultimate game changer, by 15yrs of age we could stand on our own two feet and survive. What we didn’t know then was he had really set us up for life, those same skills drummed into us, manners and respect for everything and living daily life by the scouting law and having the ability to fully function with bravery, accuracy, it was inspirational how this one person was so supportive and committed to a group of young lads.. and personally those same skills took me on the greatest adventures on this planet to the summit of the greatest mountains in the world. I still use that same little red Silvia compass Maurice gave me at 8yrs of age…. words will never say how appreciative we are as a group of lads (who are still daily best friends) on how this special person guided our adventurous life…
Yesterday 23-08-18, rightfully the World Scouting flag and the 1st Letterkenny flag draped Maurice Grahams coffin in a guard of honour wearing our old battered but still valued scout scarfs the pride was palatable and it was such a privilege to have been under his leadership.
Maurice Graham personally was held in very high regard within the world of scouting and was elected by scouting Ireland to the national management committee as provincial commissioner and eventually assistant chief commissioner for the national organisation.
Maurice you will be alway remembered in our lives ….thank you for this adventure, thank you for your leadership and most of all thank you for being you.
In the words of Baden Powell echoed by you weekly Maurice….
Be prepared – be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courageous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean & reverent.
Rest softly Maurice and may you reap richly all you deserve in the next world.
Jason & the lads.
Always a scout.
Our deepest sympathies are with Maurice’s children Mark, Michael, Ian, Derek, Sharon and all the extended family.
This picture was taken a few years ago in Gartan Churchill, a reunion of some of the old warriors of the scouting past..
left2right – Ali Moore, Adrain Wasson , Mervin Wasson , Brian Mc Fadden, Clive Davison, myself ,Rachael Wasson, Amanda McCoy ,Daisy Mc Laughlin, Maurice Graham, Gerard Callaghan,