THE 1st Wingham Scouts will get $50,000 towards upgrades of the Wingham Scout Hall.
It's not Groundhog Day, we assure you. If this statement seems familiar, it is. In May last year we reported the same news, not knowing at the time that the Scouts would then spend many months in limbo waiting for the promised funds.
District Commissioner for Scouts Australia, Stan Woodrow said he could smell the smoke of the brakes coming on in the lead up to the federal elections.
It was a tense time as work had already commenced on the project to take full advantage of the school holidays. But it all went quiet on the funding front and the project had to be put on the back burner.
Stan said a call to newly elected federal member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie was encouraging.
It was suggested the Scouts write a letter and explain their plight. It was quiet for a while but by mid January Stan said he knew the money was back on the agenda though still not official.
"Dr Gillespie chased the money pretty hard for us, he's been very supportive."
Fortunately for the Scouts, a few weeks ago Dr Gillespie was able to confirm he had secured $50,000 in federal funding towards the Wingham Scout Hall upgrade under the government's new Community Development Grants program.
The Scouts are delighted. They are also understandably cautious. The money is not in the bank yet, but Dr Gillespie was in Wingham recently and visited with the Scouts.
He heard about the plans during a tour of the facilities with Stan and scout leader Michael Brayne. The funds are expected by the end of August and Stan said he is keeping everything crossed that the grant comes through in time for the next school holidays only a few weeks away. "You've got to hope for the best and plan for the worst," he said.
"At the end of the day this will be an enormous improvement to poor old Wingham Scout Hall," said Stan who thinks apart from a few licks of paint over the years very little work has been done to the hall.
"This will not only be good for the kids but the mums and dads too."
With more than 70 members, 1st Wingham Scouts is the largest and strongest group in the region and when they all come together they don't fit in the hall. Stan considers them a "magic group" that has been continuously running since 1926.
He credits strong leadership with the success of the group. "They are an amazing bunch of people," Stan said.
Wingham leaders have also been "undoubtedly responsible and pivotal" for the re-establishment of both Forster Tuncurry and Bulahdelah Scout groups. "I can't speak highly enough of them," Stan said.
During the whole grant application and waiting process the group has received tremendous support from Scouts Australia NSW.
With any luck, said Stan, the 1st Wingham Scouts will soon discover that "what was lost is found again."