Francis Gidney

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Francis "Skipper" Gidney (1890-1928) was an early leader of the Scouting movement in the United Kingdom and organized the first Wood Badge course at Gilwell Park in September 1919. He became the first Gilwell Camp Chief in May 1919 and served until 1923. The Gidney Cabin at Gilwell was named in his honour and serves as a training centre. His pen-name was "Gilcraft".

Gidney started one of the first Scout troops in 1908, when he was only 17 years old.[1] Gidney then served in World War I. He was seriously wounded and invalided out of the army before the Armistice. His wife cared little for Scouting and she complained that he was underpaid. The marriage eventually broke up prior to his death.[1]

Disputes over how Gilwell Park should be managed led to Gidney resigning in 1923, which greatly upset Robert Baden-Powell.[1] Gidney then worked as a Master at a preparatory school in Bournemouth. Gidney's influence upon Scouting, especially in the areas of camp management, training, and Wood Badge, can not be underestimated. It was his idea to start the 1st Gilwell Scout troop for all Wood Badge holders, with its distinctive neckerchief and he successfully established the pattern still used for modern-day Gilwell reunions.[1]

From a discussion with William Hillcourt in 1989, Gidney was the source of the 'Turk's head' woggle, part of the award set.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Walker, Johnny (2006). "Gidney, Francis 'Skipper'. 1890-1928". Scouting Personalities. Johnny Walker's Scouting Milestones. Retrieved 2007-02-19.