Son’s tribute to Hastings Scouts stalwart

Eric Stokes in his uniform as Scouts district commissioner
Eric Stokes in his uniform as Scouts district commissioner

The son of a Scouts stalwart from Hastings has paid tribute to a man who would help ‘anyone with anything’.

Eric Stokes died at the age of 93 on Wednesday, February 24, after a life dedicated to the Scouts movement and as a civil servant.

The former Scout district commissioner was given the group’s highest honour, a Silver Wolf, last year after the 50th annual gang show that he helped set up originally.

His son Peter Stokes said the loveliest thing was when a nine-year-old boy thanked Eric after the show for simply organising them.

“When he was involved with the Scouts, he was very passionate about it,” said Peter.

“It did become, not quite his life, but a lot of things revolved around the Scouts.”

The great-grandfather of three was well-known in the town with Peter saying you could not walk around without bumping into someone he knew.

Eric was also given the Order of 1066 Award in 1996 for his services to youth through the Scouts.

“He would help anyone with anything which is why he got involved with so many things,” Peter said.

Born in 1922 in Clapham, South London, Eric was the second of two boys and both became keen members of the Boy Scouts.

He served in World War Two in the Royal Navy, despite forgetting he got seasick, and joined the civil service afterwards where he met his wife Anne.

Eric moved to Hastings in 1965 and brought with him his passion for the Scouts, helping the 11th Hastings group set up its own gang show at the White Rock Pavilion.

He soon became district commissioner and was instrumental in setting up the first district headquarters at Scoutcroft in the Old Town.

Anne also got involved and ran the 1st Hastings Cubs in Hollington, as well as doing backstage work for the Scout shows.

“Kids who never dreamed of getting on a stage and singing a song but the next thing you know they were up there loving it and doing things they never would have dreamed of. Dad was good at getting the best out of people,” Peter said.

Eric Stokes accepted a Civil Service three-year posting to the Solomon Islands, in the South Pacific, which was being prepared for independence from British rule.

While there he again was involved in local Scouting and organised the official celebrations that marked the handover of power from Britain.

Eric was also involved in amateur dramatics at The Stables theatre and was chairman of the Hastings RSPB branch.

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