Scouts: Helping men and boys

18 November 2022

At Leonardo, we’re proud to mark International Men’s Day, which celebrates men leading by example. In 2020, we spoke to some of our Leonardo colleagues who volunteer as Scout leaders including Scott Sullivan, an Assistant Scout Leader at Holy Trinity Scout Group whose full-time job is as an Assistant Chief Project Engineer on the AW101 helicopter programme at our Yeovil site.

Since then, Scott has worked with his scout group to introduce a new Aerospace STEM badge, which he hopes to see rolled out across the Scouting organisation more widely in the future.

In line with the theme of this year’s International Men’s Day, we speak to Scott about the success of the badge, and how Scouting continues “helping men and boys”.

Holy Trinity Scout Group is one of the oldest Scout groups in the UK, having been founded in 1918, and is located just across the road from the Leonardo site in Yeovil, with several employees, past and present, working as leaders. Many of our young people are related to someone who works at Leonardo, so creating an Aerospace STEM badge for our group was natural fit. I work as part of an inter-disciplinary team, so I could see the synergies between the team-work required on site and that which we encourage the young people to develop through their Scouting activities.

For some time now, Scouting has been accessible to both boys and girls – with the ethos of the movement applicable to all genders. On International Men’s Day, we focus on how Scouting encourages men to teach the boys in their lives the values, character and responsibilities of being a man. Leading by example is an important part of the Scout movement, something that often works both ways, with the young people’s courage and ingenuity often inspiring us as Scout leaders and as men.

The young people often talk to us about their lives, hobbies, and interests outside of Scouting, so it has always been important that I share with them things about me, and what shapes my experience and behaviours with them. I am passionate about our products, so my work with helicopters, and particularly the AW101, was a significant topic.

Once we had decided to create the Aerospace STEM badge, we devised a scheme of activities for the Scouts, during a visit to Leonardo. The activities were challenge based, with a mix of individual and team challenges, which required some scientific thought, some trial and error, and some ingenuity. These are all skills that we try to extol in Scouting. Most importantly, the challenges were intended to be fun. The Scouts took part in a paper-plane making contest, with scoring criteria based on length of flight, controlled flight and acrobatics; an ‘egg drop’ from the attic of our hall, and some discussion about the modes of flight, particularly those of helicopters.

We were also lucky enough to have a parent who was Commander of the local Royal Navy Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, who arranged for an AW159 Wildcat helicopter to drop in at our Scout campsite one evening. Commander Simpson exited the aircraft and joined us for the night, explaining the capabilities of the AW159, such as its sensor suite. He showed us Electro-Optical/Infra-Red images of us going about our activities from around 20 miles away. The Scouts also had opportunity to try out a set of Night Vision Goggles and I got to wear and deploy a Personal Flotation Device, much to their amusement! The result has been tremendous, with the Scouts often reminiscing on the activities and the aircraft visit.

We’re looking to repeat the visit to Leonardo with a new cohort of Scouts, and to extend this to the Explorer Scout section with another local group, a leader of whom flies AW101 Merlin helicopters at RNAS Yeovilton. The plan is to show the Scouts around our Yeovil site - the Home of British Helicopters, talk about the design and teamwork involved in producing our aircraft, and meet some of the team who make the aircraft. In the longer term, we would like to share the badge and its activities more widely in the East Somerset District, Somerset County, and perhaps even nationally, using a network of Leonardo-based leaders and with support from local Scout commissioners.