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Tim Smith (1953-2020)

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A “giant” supporter of the island's Scout Association who helped pull the movement back from the brink of extinction has died.

Tim Smith was 67.

Mr Smith was a lifelong Scout, and a devoted Akela — the pack leader — for the 19th Bermuda Cub Scouts. John Rankin, the Governor, who is Bermuda's Chief Scout, said yesterday: “Tim Smith will be remembered for his huge contribution to Scouting in Bermuda over many years.

“When I attended Cub Scout summer camps, I saw how deeply he was committed to the values of the Scouting movement and the positive development of young people. I also saw that he was a much loved and respected Akela — a wise leader with a great sense of fun.”

Scouts practised social-distancing to attend and pay their respects at his funeral on Tuesday at St Mark's Church in Smith's.

Mr Smith's death was a double blow for the Scouts as it came in the wake of the death last month of 55-year-old Mark Henneberger, another prominent Scout leader.

Geoff Rothwell, the Chief Commissioner of the Scouts, who trained under Mr Smith, said Mr Smith had been the fourth Akela of his troop, which was formed in 1959.

The title Akela for a troop leader came from The Jungle Book, written by British writer Rudyard Kipling.

Dr Rothwell said: “Tim was instrumental in the reason we still have Scouting in Bermuda. It had declined, to the point we only had one Cub Scout troop left. “He reinvigorated the whole association in 2012, to the point we now have four Cub Scout groups and the Explorers.”

Mr Smith took the helm of the 19th Bermuda Cub Scouts 27 years ago when his son, Jason, joined. He is also survived by wife Diane and daughter Amy.

Dr Rothwell said: “He was a wonderful, caring person, with a great sense of humour, who would always go out of his way to help young people.

“At the same time, he was strict when he had to be. The troop will continue, obviously, but it is a huge loss. Tim was a larger-than-life person.”

Different troops have preferred camp sites, with Hen Island in St George's a favourite of Mr Smith's 19th.

Dr Rothwell said that, despite Bermuda's size limitations, the Scouts used islands and woodland reserves to get an authentic outdoors experience.

He added: “These camps are in places where you can't see or hear anybody. On Hen Island, Tim repaired docks that were gone from hurricanes. He maintained the dining shelter and built new tables.”

Dr Rothwell said Mr Smith, who had stepped down from Marsh Management to spend more time with the Scouts, had recently been awarded the Scouts' Bar to the Silver Acorn.

The Silver Acorn is awarded for 20 years' service, with the Bar added to mark five additional years.

Stephen Barton, a Scouts volunteer since 2002, said Mr Smith had joined the Scouts aged 8.

He added: “Tim had great patience and the skill to defuse situations with the boys. Everybody respected him. He encouraged the boys to explore while keeping a watchful eye.”

Mr Barton said he had joined Mr Smith as “one of the leaders in the charge” eight years ago when Scouting was in decline.

He said: “Tim tracked down people who had been involved years before and pulled a group together to make this work. And it did. For him, it was all about young people.”

Michael Smith, a lawyer and leader of the 19th Scout troop, said Mr Smith was “a giant in the scouting world in Bermuda”.

Mr Smith said: “I was actually a Cub when he was a Scout and have known him practically all my life — a wonderful person, deeply devoted to the youth of Bermuda.”

He explained that Mr Smith had provided a “feeder system” for the later stages of Scouting through a thriving Cub Scout movement

Cubs are aged 8 to 11, and Scouts, which now include girls, take 12 to 15-year-olds, with a further group, the Explorers, for youngsters aged 16 and over.

Mr Smith added: “If Tim had not convinced me to restart the 19th Scouts, which had become defunct, we would not have the Explorers either.”

He said Mr Smith had a “booming voice that could stop a train”.

Mr Smith added the loss of Mr Smith and Mr Henneberger had hit the organisation hard.

He said that memorials for both would be planned once Covid-19 restrictions permitted.

Moulding citizens: Tim Smith became the Akela or leader of the 19th Bermuda Cub Scouts in 1993 and helped revive scouting in Bermuda. Once a Boy Scout himself, Mr Smith was recently awarded the Scouts' Bar to the Silver Acorn, which awarded for 20 years' service, with the Bar added to mark five additional years (Photograph supplied)
All for one: the 19th Bermuda Cub Scouts leader Tim Smith, rear, and Geoffrey Rothwell, chief commissioner of the Scout Association, right, with a group of Scouts in 2013. Once a Boy Scout himself, Mr Smith was instrumental in the revival of scouting in Bermuda and was recently awarded the Scouts' Bar to the Silver Acorn, which awarded for 20 years' service, with the Bar added to mark five additional years (File photograph)
Tim Smith
Tim Smith, a longstanding leader of the 19th Bermuda Cub Scouts, who helped to revive scouting in Bermuda (Photograph supplied)
United front: John Rankin, the Governor, right, who serves as Bermuda's Chief Scout, with Tim Smith, leader of the 19th Bermuda Cub Scouts (Photograph supplied)

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Published May 01, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 01, 2020 at 7:36 am)

Tim Smith (1953-2020)

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