A weekend camping adventure will be held later this month to celebrate the incredible work of Austinmer Scout Leader Nifty (Neville) Brown who, after 28 years at the helm, has been granted indefinite leave from 1st Austinmer.
Nifty is woven into the fabric of scouting in Austinmer and has played a part in the lives of hundreds of local scouts since the 90s.
Nifty and wife Sylvia have sold up in Wombarra and moved to the Monaro for their next chapter, leaving a gaping hole in the local Scouting movement.
“In most cases, you have to build people up when they leave an organisation,” says long-time Group President Steve Green, “but in Nifty’s case you certainly don’t have to do that.
“My four children all went through Scouts here in Austi and learned cooperation, teamwork, self-reliance, planning and organisational skills, and of course, outdoor skills, thanks to everything Nifty has to offer.”
Steve also credits Nifty with encouraging girls to enjoy Scouting, with numbers now almost even at Austinmer.
“He’s been the highpoint in the development of so many local children,” says Steve.
Steve says Nifty has time for everyone and is passionate about what he does. “The Scouts love him,” he says. “He has a practical way about him and is a great communicator, so he’s a wonderful mentor to so many young people who’ve passed through 1st Austinmer.
At 70, Nifty has overcome numerous injuries (many sustained in his Scouting journey) as well as a few health battles, but Steve says nothing has stopped him- including animal encounters!
“He once took their little boat downtime coast. When they got it into the water there was a python under the seat- so they drove back and released it at their home in Wombarra. Nothing is ever too much trouble.”
Under Nifty’s guidance, Austinmer Scouts was a regular standout at Jamborees, where their skills and teamwork saw the local Scouts rise to the top.
“The amount of time and the sheer effort Nifty has put in to Austinmer Scouts is incredible,” says Steve.
To honour his commitment Nifty has been made a Life Member of Austinmer Scouts, and while he already holds an OAM, he’s now been awarded another one- The Order of Austinmer Medal- which symbolises what he means to Austinmer and to Scouting.
“We refuse to think about Nifty not being around,” says Steve, “so we have granted him ‘Indefinate Leave’- we will be ready and waiting if he ever decides to come back.”
The Farewell Weekend will be held at Mt Keira Scout Camp from March 29-31 and all former Scouts and their families are welcome.