OXFORD’s top Scout is stepping down after years of dedication to the movement.

Val Butcher, whose involvement with scouting goes back to the 1960s, is retiring after six years as Oxford Spires district commissioner to move into youth work.

Mrs Butcher, 64, of Brasenose Drive, Kidlington, covers 17 groups in Oxford, Thame, Wheatley, Kidlington, Kennington and Yarnton.

Now Oxfordshire Scouting is looking for a new district commissioner to carry on Mrs Butcher’s work.

She said: “I have enjoyed my time as district commissioner and it has allowed me to do many things that I might not have otherwise done.

“The district is part of an organisation which sets out to provide our young people with the skills to become good citizens.

“Being district commissioner is extremely rewarding and I would love to provide some help and advice to my successor while in post.”

Mrs Butcher started her scouting career when she volunteered to help at her local cub pack, 9th Wembley, later becoming leader of 13th Wembley.

She took a break from the movement in 1972 but got involved again when she moved with her young family to Kidlington five years later, joining the 33rd Oxford (Kidlington) Rama Pack.

The grandmother-of-six, who works in the finance department at Thames Valley Police, said: “The role is more dealing with and managing adults than the young people and I have missed that a bit.”

She added: “My successor does not need to have had previous experience of the Scouting movement.”

Almost half a million young people are involved in Scouting in the UK, including 60,000 girls, and it has a global membership in excess of 28 million.

Last night one of Britain’s oldest scouts paid tribute to Mrs Butcher’s contribution. Reg Hayes, 96, of Normandy Crescent, Cowley, retired last September after 80 years in the movement.

Mr Hayes said: “Val has done a marvellous job for Scouting in Oxford.

“She has put so much of her free time into it and really made sure Scouting continued to thrive in the city. Val will certainly leave a big pair of shoes to fill.”

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