IT was a proud day for a woman who has been involved in Tavistock Scouts for more than 50 years when she was presented with the Scout Association’s highest accolade, the Silver Wolf Award.

Liz Cole accepted her certificate for exceptional service to the youth movement from district commissioner Ben de Carteret at a ceremony on Friday, September 24.

The certificate is signed by chief scout Bear Grylls and Liz has also received a letter of thanks from Bear Grylls himself. She will also be going to a national presentation ceremony next year.

Liz is the first person to receive the Silver Wolf Award in Tavistock Scouts’ 112-year history and only the second ever in West Devon district of the scouts. Now aged 73, Liz has been part of 1st Tavistock Scout Group since the tender age of five, when her parents Phyllis and Harry Wassell started helping with the cubs – then wolf cubs – in Tavistock. Her mum became pack leader, or Akela, and her dad the Bagheera, assistant leader.

‘My older brother wanted to join the cubs, that is how they got involved, and I tagged along,’ said Liz. ‘It has been my extended family for 68 years.’

Back then, girls couldn’t join the cubs or scouts, so Liz did the next best thing and became a Brownie and then a Guide. With her dad becoming group scout leader, she was involved with the scouts from the age of 14. At 22 she became an assistant cub leader and never looked back. ‘I’ve been an akela, I’ve been group scout leader. Back in 1980, when I became group scout leader I was the first female group scout leader in West Devon,’ she said.

Scouts has been her life, around working as a civil servant in the Met Office for a number of years. She even met her second husband Barry through the scouts, at a major weekend event in 1986; sadly, Barry was killed in a motorbike accident in 1994. Liz’s support of the Tavistock Scouts has involved major fundraising as well as running the meetings.

She was instrumental in helping raise money for and planning and building The Den, a scout hut of their own for 1st Tavistock Scout Group. This finally provided a fixed location where scouting could be delivered in Tavistock. And over the past 12 years, Liz has raised an amazing £11,000 for 1st Tavistock Scouts with her famous quiz, which she compiles and distributes around local businesses and outlets in town four times a year.

Group scout leader David Pestridge said it was ‘not for nothing’ that Liz was seen as Tavistock Scouts’ Fairy Godmother. ‘Scouting relies on volunteers at every level to help young people make new friends, have amazing adventures and learn new skills,’ he said. ‘Without the amazing and enduring efforts of people like Liz, scouting in Tavistock would not be in the healthy position it is in today. 1st Tavistock Scout Group are immensely proud of Liz; the first Silver Wolf recipient in the group’s 112-year history and the second in West Devon District.’

She said that being made Silver Wolf, which entitles her to wear her award, a silver fox on a green and yellow ribbon, around her neck came as a complete surprise. ‘I came in and dialled 1471 and said that is the district commissioner, what does he want? I called him back and he said I’ve got some wonderful news and are you sitting down? He then said I’d been awarded the Silver Wolf Award. I went deadly quiet and said, are you sure? I am pleased, and at the same time gobsmacked! When I told my uncle he said your dad would have been so proud. And my mum too, after all the years they put in to the scouts. I feel quite humble about it really. I’ve got a lot of enjoyment out of it. It is surprising what the kids come out with, and some of the things they have said and done over the years. It has been brilliant.’

Find out more about volunteering for the scouts in Tavistock by emailing David Pesteridge on [email protected]