A SCOUT leader who became known as a tough but kind Arkala during 30 years of volunteering has been named a town’s person of the year.
Phil Nation, 63, was given the Townsperson of the Year 2011 award by Epping Town Council for his work with the Ash pack of the Fourth Epping Cub Scouts on Friday.
“I was absolutely chuffed they thought that highly of me,” he said. “When you’ve been doing something for a very long time, sometimes you think people are not thinking about you.
“You just get on with it and you don’t look for rewards or anything like that.
“The biggest thrill is when you’ve done, for example, a camp or outing and they come up and say ‘it’s really great’.
“I’m a very strict disciplinarian and I don’t take anything from anybody, but the boys know full well that if I say something, they will do it and everything will be ok.
“I’ve been told I’m scary, but I don’t think so. I think they respect me and I respect them.”
He officially retired from his role as Arkala of the pack, which is made up of eight to 10-year-olds, last year, because of back problems, but still attends some Monday night meetings because of a lack of adults coming forward to volunteer.
“It would be nice to see some young blood coming into the group, because I think Fourth is the oldest group in Epping. It’s been going for 60 years.
“I would not have been able to do it if I hadn’t had the help of several people over the years.”
The resident of Fairfield Road, Epping, who runs Wyziwyg Signs in North Weald, said he is still recognised in the street by former cubs he led decades ago.
“Sometimes I walk down the High Street and get old cubs saying ‘hi Arkala’ and they’ve got their wife and kids with them,” he added.
“Some of my boys went on to be airline pilots, one’s in the RAF, one worked on the Star Wars films and a couple were policemen and firemen.
“A couple have been inside, but you can’t make them all perfect. That’s not the idea, it’s to impart a little bit of knowledge.
“By the time they leave cubs, they know full well that if they cross the line, they’re going to be reprimanded for it.”