A bit of history came our way recently when we were contacted by Giles Keen, asking if we could shed more light on a newspaper cutting he had from 1953. The Bath Chronicle & Herald paper of May 9th that year, reported that “Sixer Jimmy Keen [Giles’ father] of the 30th Bath, Orthopaedic Wolf Cub Pack was receiving the Cornwell Certificate – the Boy Scouts’ ‘VC’.”
With the help of the Scout Heritage centre at HQ and Rod from the 10th Scouts we were able to provide Giles with some more detail on his father’s achievement.
The Cornwell Award is indeed the highest bravery award a Scout can get. Jimmy won this accolade having endured five years in plaster undergoing painful and demanding treatment of “tubercular joints”, remaining unfailingly cheerful, helpful, and positive both as patient and Scout. The award was presented to him by Rear-Admiral Rodney Scott (see picture) and, as far we know, Jimmy remains the only Bath Scout to have been awarded one.
The Cornwell Award was established to honour the memory of exemplary Scout John “Jack” Travers Cornwell who, at the age of 15, joined the Navy to fight in the First World War and, still just 15, showed outstanding bravery and devotion to duty staying at his gun post in the heaviest of fighting at the Battle of Jutland (May 1916) despite being badly wounded. Following the battle, Jack was transferred to hospital but died of his wounds in June 1916.
Hospital Scout troops are still a feature of modern Scouting, with both Bristol Hospital and Great Ormand Street being home to Scout groups.
Giles Keen said: “It’s been wonderful to find out more about my father’s award and how being a member of the Wolf Cub pack helped him through his many tough years in hospital. It obviously helped him, being part of the Cub pack, to remain positive and yet still to do his best and help others going through the same ordeal. Many thanks to all that have helped to bring his story and award to life starting from only a partial newspaper clipping.”