Derek held many Scouting appointments and received many Awards from the time he was a Scout Leader in 1948. He was awarded the Long Service Decoration in 1965, the Bar to the Medal of Merit in 1984 and the Silver Wolf in 2000. The County sends its condolences to his family.
Tribute to Derek Morrow-Thomas by John Harley
It is indeed a sad occasion in this Centenary Year of Scouting to record the life of Derek. He was a classic example of the older style of Scout Leader and was indeed proud of his membership of the 3rd Kenton Group, and even with all the changes over the years, remained loyal to the ideals of Scouting. When his disabilities became more serious, he was appointed District Secretary.
The Award of the Silver Wolf, the highest decoration for Good Services to Scouting, was deservedly given to Derek; joining his Awards for Long Service and Meritorious Conduct. Talking with a former member of the Crew, as it was called in those long ago days, he reminded me of the Sutton Coldfield Jamboree in 1957 when, led of course by Derek, members camped at the Rover Moot (part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Scouting).
Now we look forward to another World Jamboree with an ex-member of the 3rd Kenton on the organizing Committee. Whenever there was something unusual happening in Scouting, and particularly within the 3rd Kenton, Derek would be there, leading the Crew. One cannot go far without appreciating the amount of assistance Derek gave to everyone, whilst holding down a job as a civil servant. We all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.
Tribute by Revd. David Aplin who officiated at Derek’s funeral
Derek was a devoted son especially in caring for his mother until her death in 1978. Derek did not mind leading the Crew into a few scrapes and doing things which now would be severely frowned on. Health and Safety did not exist then, and yet we survived – many of the activities encouraged by Derek would not be allowed today. Many of us remember the trips by river cruiser on the River Thames, and of course the Gang Shows. His needs became so much greater when in 1988 he had his leg amputated below the knee due to gangrene, and just 18 months later the other leg was amputated above the knee when its circulation packed up – he just kept on going with the aid of his electric wheelchair.
Derek was blessed with many friends who helped him through the stress and physical difficulties that this caused, especially Ernie and his wife Gladys, and of course devoted Elizabeth Furlong. Before the days of MOTs and seatbelts, the original Van was happily driven all over the country by Derek before it finally fell to bits. Not only the Van but other cars became part of Derek’s life, and bits of cars were regularly on display in various stages of repair at the back of the Den. Derek also started a Group magazine that ran for several years, being printed by an old Gestetner machine, many years before computers.
I came to know Derek in the 90’s when as District Chaplain I served with him on the Appointments Committee. Derek could have been an old-fuddy duddy wrapped up in glories of the past, but he knew that times had changed and he changed to. In spite of rather cramped and perhaps questionable hygienic conditions, Derek encouraged the holding of the Crew Annual Dinner within the Den, and what a splendid event that was. He loved the youngsters and the Scouters because Derek’s first love was people. I treasure my friendship with Derek, and I know that many have great memories of this very special man.
Latterly, when in 1966 Rover Scouting ended nationally, due to lack of support, although hard to believe in the 3rd Kenton, Derek continued to maintain Rovering under a different name, and was in due course asked to be the Assistant District Commissioner for Leader Training. God bless you Derek – and remember when you get to Heaven that they need someone to organise their training – a faithful, caring servant will do just fine!