Where it all started…
Woodseats Venture Scout Unit was established in 1967 (and in 2017 celebrated its 50th Anniversary) as the only Venture Scout Unit in the Sheffield Sheaf District, which was rare as most Venture Units were attached to Scout Groups, but as the founding members saw the opportunity to run a decent-sized Unit for the whole District and thought it would be better than having several Units with only a handful of members. The great thing about this decision was that every Scout member in the Sheaf District knew that one day they would end up at Woodseats, doing the sorts of crazy things they saw Unit members doing!
Explorer and Network
In 2001 when the Scout Association decided to alter the dynamics of the sections by bringing the age groups down, they replaced the Venture Scouts section with Explorers and the Network, so the only way we could continue to run as before was to set up a new Scout group that had no Beavers, Cubs & Scouts but an Explorer Unit, and all the District’s Scouts would move on to Woodseats when they got to 14. It’s not the official way of doing things but it works.
Our bus, Spiney Norman. One of the founding members of the Unit was a fan of Monty Python, and there began the underlying theme of the Unit, our hedgehog logo whose spikes cleverly reveal the lettering ‘WVU’ was named after a character from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Spiney Norman. We also named our infamous bus after him! Our bus is a 1954 Bedford ex-RAF vehicle which has taken Unit members all over the world on countless trips and adventures and is still running around today! We acquired the bus in the ’70s and painted it blue and yellow (which became our colours) with the spiney logo on the sides. We named it Spiney Norman and it’s known by every member who has passed through the Unit in the last 35 years.
The Sheffield Scout Post was a fundraising service that started at Woodseats Venture Unit following a change in the law in 1981 which stated that charities could set up their own postal service. Unit leaders Pete Stevenson (now Sheaf District Commissioner), Roger Legge and John Hall decided that this could be a great way of making some money for the Unit as we were homeless and had no meeting place and so they took the opportunity to raise funds to help the Unit with its running costs. The service was a massive success and the funds raised went towards buying our HQ on Helmton Road where we still are today. After 20 years of members and supporters giving up their evenings and weekends to sort through masses of post and deliver it through all of South Sheffield and Dronfield (and often as far as Stocksbridge and Mansfield!), the workload became too much for us to handle and the service ended there. The Unit made a lot of money out of the Christmas Post which helped them keep running the whole time and are still living off the healthy bank balance this provided us with. We also donated an astonishing £150,000 to various charities over the 20 year era. Woodseats Venture Unit is renound for starting the Scout Post and items such as the WVU-branded stamps are often seen on ebay being bought and sold by philately fanatics and stamp collectors. Read all about it from a collector’s perspective on these websites: norvic-philatelics.co.uk and johcra7.100webspace.net