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Obituary | Chief Scout Sir (Erskine) William Gladstone

Sir William Gladstone Bt, K.G. died peacefully on the 29 March aged 92 surrounded by his family. As Chief Scout he encouraged the Movement to work hard and reach out to young people from all backgrounds. He particularly encouraged those from inner cities to join Scouting. He has been described as a visionary leader and a real progressive thinker of his time.

Sir William was born on the 29 of October 1925 the son of Sir Charles Andrew Gladstone and Isla Margaret Gladstone (née Crum). He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He married Rosamund Anne Hambro in 1962 and succeeded his father as the 7th Baronet of Fasque and Balfour in 1968. His Great Grandfather was Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone.

Gladstone served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War mainly based in the Indian Ocean serving with the destroyer force between 1943 and 1946. Following the War, he pursued a career in education and held the positions of Assistant Master at Shrewsbury from 1949 until 1950. He moved onto Eton and worked there from 1951 until 1961. He was appointed Head Master of Lancing College in 1961 and served until 1969. Upon inheriting the title from his father, he retired from teaching and moved to the family seat at Hawarden Castle.

Sir William served as Deputy Lieutenant of Flintshire from 1969 and was made Vice Lord-Lieutenant in 1984. He was Alderman of Flintshire County Council from 1970 until 1974. He became Chairman of the Representative Body of the Church in Wales in 1977 and served until 1992. He also held posts as Chairman of the Council of Glenalmond College, Governor of Ruthin School and Justice of the Peace for Clwyd.

Sir William first started Scouting whilst a student at Eton and encouraged school Groups during his teaching career. He was appointed Chief Scout in 1972 and held the position until 1982. He was also elected to the World Scout Committee in 1977 and served until 1983, the last three as Chair. Whilst Chief Scout he encouraged Scouting in deprived areas typically in the inner cities which had high levels of poverty due to the economic problems of the 1970s and 1980s. By focusing on this issue, he followed in the steps of Robert Baden-Powell, who from the birth of Scouting, encouraged young people of all backgrounds to be part of the Scout Movement. This is an area of work that has formed a lasting legacy and is still a key focus for the Movement today.

The Scout Movement’s current Better Prepared campaign seeks to ensure Scouting is operating in the UK’s poorest 200 wards. The Movement continues to strive to offer Scouting to all communities across the UK today and it is the work that Baden Powell started, and Gladstone continued that forms a key plank of the Movements work in 2018. Sir William was awarded the Silver Wolf in 1972. This award is the highest award made by The Scout Association "for services of the most exceptional character." Upon leaving his role as Chief Scout the Movement appointed him a Vice President of the Scout Movement. The Scout Association. Sir William was awarded the Bronze Wolf by the World Scout Committee in 1985, the highest award that can be made to a volunteer in World Scouting.

When not serving the community, Sir William enjoyed watercolour painting, forestry, farming, carpentry and gardening. Gladstone’s title will pass to his son Charles Angus Gladstone who was born on the 11 April 1964. He leaves his wife, Rosamund, another son, Robert and a daughter, Victoria. He was a grandfather of fifteen.



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