My other life: James Winchester, Scouting

James Winchester

When James Winchester isn't being client director for commercial insurance (South) for Konsileo, he's building up his Scouting skills as assistant district commissioner for Scouts – Poole District.

How did your interest in this hobby start?

I joined scouting when I was seven years old. From there I have remained in scouting ever since - over 23 years - moving through the sections, Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and then to become a leader, before becoming what I am today as Assistant District Commissioner for Scouts for the Poole District Scout Council. 

How did you build up your skills?

As an adult in scouting we are lucky that the national association provides a number of training courses to provide us with skills such as organisation, communication, teaching, management and administration, as well as the facility to gain more adventurous skills such as rifle shooting, climbing, archery, diving, watersports and more.

What is the experience like?

The experience is forever changing, keeping me on my toes. One week I can be training new adults, the next helping young people learn a new skill like reading a map, and then a week later be camping in the middle of nowhere with basic rations for a survival weekend. The main thing for me is I still get the same buzz of attending scouting events as I did when I was seven years old going with my friends. My experiences vary, but that’s what is exciting; no two meetings, camps, or activities are the same.

James Winchester Scout

What has been the highlight so far?

I have gained a number of awards which have led to meeting people I thought I never would. In 2008, I completed my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and was presented the honour by Prince Phillip himself, with the Queen in attendance. In 2012 I completed my Queens Scout Award and was invited to Windsor Castle to parade in front of the Queen, and got the pleasure of meeting chief scout Bear Grylls and the Duchess of Cambridge at the same time. Two years later I was invited back to Windsor and got the pleasure of meeting Bear Grylls again and the Countess of Wessex.

I have also been fortunate to have been selected to represent the UK Scout Association abroad at international events. The most recent being last year in Iceland with over 8,000 Scouts from across the world as part of the UK Contingent for the World Scout Moot. And last year in Iceland I got the opportunity to climb the Eyjafjallajökull Mountain and active volcano range at a height of 1400 metres, this is something I never expected myself personally to achieve, and If it wasn’t for scouting I doubt I would even thought about it. 

How has the experience changed you?

When I was younger I was a shy boy, not very confident and just willing to follow others. Now feel I can achieve anything, and can talk to anyone. All which has helped me in my professional career today. 

What’s your next challenge?

I have been asked to attend the Canadian Jamboree in Toronto in 2020, attend the next World Scout Moot in Ireland in 2022, and to visit and work at the International Scout Camp in Kandersteg, Switzerland.  However the next challenge is being a dad at present, my son was born last December, which has meant for the time being, my international scouting is on hold.

Any crossover between this activity and your insurance day job?

As part of my Scouting I have to complete a number of risk assessments, and administration tasks, that with being an insurance broker isn’t to dissimilar. The world of insurance and risk is everywhere, so naturally being responsible for up to 1000 people at a time on camp and activities, needs me to have my insurance mind on at all times. 

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