Desiree Bellingham lives in Faerie Glen Pretoria with her husband Peter. They have two sons, Quentin and Nolan, and a daughter Celeste. After 28 years as school secretary and PA to two Principals she is now retired. Desiree loves to do handcrafts and her sewing bag goes everywhere with her – meetings, courses, holidays, camps, and even shopping! “Many a time I will sit on a bench in the shopping mall and crochet or knit whilst waiting for my husband to finish his shopping”, she says with a smile. “I have had so many people talk to me about what I do and some have become firm friends!” When she is not working on her handcrafts, Wood Badge holder Desiree lives and breathes Scouting. This is her Scouting story:
“I started as a helper in 1981 when my eldest son Quentin started Cubs at the 29th Valhalla Scout Group. I offered to make a new flag and painted the wolf’s head and name on it. Then I was invited to present the flag to the Pack and to break it for the first time … and the rest is history! I was Assistant Pack Scouter (APS) for five years and did my Wood Badge and my camping permit whilst with 29th Valhalla. My Pack Scouter (PS) was Eileen Smook.
We then had a laatlemmetjie and decided to build a bigger house in Faerie Glen, east of Pretoria. When Nolan was six months old I started as APS with a newly opened Pack – 40th Glenstantia – that branched off from 31st Menlo Park. Belinda Edwards was the first PS. We met at the primary school until we could build our own hall. It took many years but it was all worth the wait! After Belinda, I was the second Pack Scouter of the Group. I filled this role for 16 years and in total was a Scouter at 40th Glenstantia Scout Group for 25 years. In 2001 I became Assistant District Commissioner (ADC). Since completing my Training Techniques Course in March 1996, I have been a member of the Training Team. In September 2013 I completed the Leader Course. Presently, I am RTC/ National Support Team member in Gauteng and assist my husband, who is the DC Tshwane North East District, with the Cub side of his duties.
There are many moments I remember but the Pow-Wows I hold dear to my heart. In 1985 I broke my leg, but I was not going to let a cast stop me from attending the Pow-Wow in Kimberley. At the campfire I had a special seat and a stool to raise my foot. One participant even put her beanie over my toes to keep them warm! When it was time to wash ourselves, the gentlemen had to vacate their ablutions and allow me to have a bath – as the ladies only had showers! Thanks for that! Since 2000 – when we were asked to bring the Scouting Spirit along to Cape Town – the Purple Lady has missed only one Pow-Wow. I love meeting up with friends from previous Pow-Wows!
As mentioned, I have two sons whom have both achieved their Springbok Award and I’m VERY proud to wear my two Springbok broaches on my uniform! My daughter also achieved the highest award in Ranger guides, which is the Founder’s badge. We were a very blessed family to be able to “speak the same language”. We knew/ understood exactly what the other meant and experienced. Being a family of five and all in uniform, makes us a proud and a formidable stronghold of the Scout Law and Promise!
I did the Cub Wood Badge course at Gilglen, Pretoria in November 1987 and the GS/Comm Wood Badge course at Gilwell, Florida in June 2007. I was quite nervous because the Northern Transvaal Training Team in that time, was looked upon with awe and a kind of reverence and they were so knowledgeable and well-trained. I remember wanting to impress them and to do good at everything, which resulted in me doing my very best. It is a wonderful and fulfilling experience to successfully complete the theoretical and practical work of the Wood Badge course. It is a very intense course and it teaches participants to concentrate on the outcome and to be committed and steadfast. A skill which also applies in any job situation. In today’s society I find the Wood Badge course to be very relevant as looking after oneself and loyalty to self is of utter importance. We should all just remember that we cannot progress and achieve our best at the expense of another.
The Wood Badge is the symbol of a trained Scouter. It reminds me of the efforts and devotion of those who strive to live up to what the name implies by putting the welfare of others before themselves. This means that I have to be true to myself and not be a Scout only when other people are around to impress. I am the one who looks in the mirror and sees the true self. If I am satisfied that I have done my best, it will be acceptable to and by other people. If the Promise and Law becomes a way of life (public and private) other people will notice and gladly follow the example I have set.”
Desiree’s life motto is:
“BE TRUE UNTO MYSELF, which will enable me to be true to the Promise and Law as a Scout and as a civilian. Only when being true to yourself can you be of use and an example to other people.”
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