A BLACK Country solicitor and his three daughters have been given the rare distinction of being made honorary members of the Scout Association in Singapore.
Ian Henery, who is also a poet, Bugle contributor and scout leader, was in the Far East with his daughters, Jennifer, Emily and Grace when they were all given the surprise award and presented with special neckerchiefs and woggles.
The Walsall family were in Singapore and Malaysia for a jamboree and to garner support for a project that Ian wants to unveil at the World Scout Jamboree in Japan next year to commemorate 70 years since the dropping of the first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima.
Ian, who is managing director of Ian Henery Solicitors and scout leader with 1st Walsall Wood Scouts, had travelled with his three daughters who are all members of that group.
They had travelled to link up with Scouts in Singapore and Malaysia to work on a body of poetry to try and put an end to war.
"The Worldwide Scout Association is the largest peace organisation in the world," said Ian, "and I just got disheartened by all of the rhetoric from the politicians and nothing ever seeming to be done."
Ian contacted the Assistant Commissioner for Scouts in Johore, Mohammed Azlan Jaliel, and the Deputy Director of Johor Tourism in Malaysia, plus the International Co-ordinator and IT Manager of the Singapore Scout Association, Maohid Faziel, and a programme was established for Ian and the Walsall scouts when they arrived in Singapore. Ian met Dr Effendi, Executive Director of the Singapore Scout Association, and Mr Hoo Chuan Yang, District Commissioner for Toa Payoa in Singapore. "I had written a poem on August 4 called A Passenger Known Unto God, which I read at Wednesbury Library for the Great War centenary."
This poem was featured in The Bugle (August 14 edition).
Ian added: "I realised that it was not the war to end all wars because, today civilians are dying in wars in the Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq and Syria. Millions of people died between 1914 – 1919 for nothing at all. I was also horrified by the loss of life on board the Malaysian Airliner MH17 where half of the dead were children. It was then that I resolved that the Worldwide Association of Scouts should do something." This then led to poetry workshops with Scouts in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and in Singapore. "The scars of World War Two are still very deep in Singapore," explained Ian, because between 1942-45 the Japanese murdered 50,000 Chinese civilians."
The success of these workshops then led to further workshops to help Singaporean Scouts celebrate the 49th National Day in Singapore on August 9 and what it means to be a Singaporean.
Ian said: "Singapore is a very young country and broke away from the Malaya Federation 49 years ago because of the number of Chinese people over the majority Malays. Singapore quickly asserted its own cultural identity and is now one of the richest countries in the world. In a rare honour, Ian and his three daughters were invited to lead poetry workshops in the country's top school, the Raffles Institute, for Singaporean Scouts.
President of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew had been a member of this Scout group as was another of Singapore's presidents, HRS Nathan.
"We are now going to feature Ian's work on Facebook in Singapore and publicise it to the whole of Singapore," said Mr Hoo Chuan Yang,
The basis of the workshops was a poem Ian wrote when he was commissioned by The Scout Association in England to be Poet Laureate for the Scout Memorial Project at the National Arboretum in Alrewas.
The poem, dedicated to Ian's father, himself a scout, is called The Scouts Who Gave Their Lives (Lest We Forget) and is all about service to their communities.
"This is something that we hold dear in Singapore," said Mr Hoo Chuan Yang, "Ian's poem encapsulates that and it is relevant for National Day in Singapore."
After spending a week in Singapore with the Singaporean Scout Association at their HQ in Bishan, Ian and his daughters headed across the Straits of Melacca into Malaysia where they met Scouts from the Malaysian state of Johor in the capital city of Johor Bahru. They volunteered their time at a home for handicapped children called The Love Foundation, which is supported by Lions International, and ran more workshops there.
See Ian's Scouts poem - Page 14