A YOUNG Downend scout leader has been awarded one of the organisation’s highest honours.
Josh O’Inn has been awarded the Cornwell Scout Badge in recognition of his “bravery, determination and stamina” in taking on challenges while recovering from ongoing surgery to treat a genetic condition.
Josh joined the 28th Kingswood, 1st Downend beavers aged six.
Thirteen years on, he has been through cubs, scouts and explorers, rising to physical challenges including abseiling, week-long camps and the 55-mile Ten Tors Challenge, and going on an international expedition to Madagascar, where he volunteered in an orphanage.
Mum Jenny said scouting had transformed Josh’s confidence as he lived with neurofibromatosis, a condition which causes tumours to grow on his face.
Josh, who attended Staple Hill Primary School and John Cabot Academy, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis when he was a year old.
Jenny said: “As he has grown up the condition has grown with him over the years. His face has changed and he has had numerous surgeries to maintain his vision. It has led to other conditions, such as glaucoma.
“His condition was never a physical disability apart from the effect on his vision, but it affected his confidence.
“Scouting has allowed him to meet new people and do amazing things. Whatever they have thrown at him, he’s done it.”
Now a student studying computer game design at Southampton University, Josh has stayed with the group as a leader and roped his mum in, too.
The Cornwell Scout Badge was created in memory of Jack Cornwell, a 16-year-old scout who stayed at his post at a gun turret despite being mortally wounded when his ship, HMS Chester, was shelled at close range during the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
Jack was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross and the badge created in his memory.
Group scout leader Rachel Ferrand said: “This is a rare award, only available to a young person, under the age of 25, in respect of great heroism or pre-eminently high character and devotion to duty, coupled with great courage and endurance.
“Josh has undergone many operations and still comes bouncing back.
“We are very proud to have him as a member of our Scout Group.”
Josh’s group is looking for more volunteers so it can continue to give young people opportunities. A variety of roles are available, from leaders working directly with members to behind-the-scenes roles such as trustees.
Anyone who would like to get involved can contact the group via its Facebook page or email Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org.