Troop leader Colin led scouts from the front

The late Colin Cooke.
The late Colin Cooke.

THE man who led Moira Scouts for nearly two decades was given a fitting send off at his funeral last week.

Colin George Cooke died on February 10 at his home in Dollingstown, surrounded by his loving family, after a short illness.

The 45-year-old is best known as the troop leader with First Moira, but his Scouting adventure started as a boy in Lurgan.

Colin was the middle child of five born to John and Betty Cooke. He is survived by his mother and father and his older brother Gordon, older sister Elaine and younger brothers Alistair and Trevor.

He grew up in Lurgan in Mourne Road and Demesne Avenue and is a former pupil of King’s Park, Lurgan Boys’ Junior High School and Lurgan College.

Colin met his wife-to-be Susan at Hill Street Church Youth Club while they were both at the College. Susan Honeyford was in Fourth year while Colin was in Upper Sixth.

After leaving school Colin began working for Craigavon Photographic Services at Annesborough.

He worked there for 21 years before he was made redundant. Colin was out of work for less than four weeks, gaining a part time job as a pharmacy assistant in Boots in Moira.

Due to Colin’s work ethic, the part time post became a full time position and he worked there for five years.

Colin and his wife Susan were just six days shy of 22 years married when Colin died. They’d got engaged when Susan was 16 and Colin was 19.

They married on February 16, 1991 in Hill Street Presbyterian Church in Lurgan. Their first house together was in Glenview Drive before they moved to Claremont Avenue in Moira. They relocated to Kensington Manor in Dollingstown six years ago.

Colin started his Scouting adventure as a Beaver with the Second Lurgan Scout troop based at Hill Street. He continued through the Cubs, Scouts and Venture Scouts until he became Assistant Leader with the Cubs. Colin also spent a brief spell with First Lurgan Cubs when he was completing his Wood Badge course.

Susan was a Brownie Leader in Moira and it was the Minister at St John’s in Moira, Roderick West, who approached Colin and asked if he would help set up a Scout troop in Moira.

Along with Paul Stanfield, Colin helped to set up First Moira Scouts. Even while setting up the troop, Colin remained as Cub Leader with Second Lurgan. Eventually the lure of the Scouts proved too much and he concentrated his efforts on First Moira.

For 18 years Colin led from the front as leader of First Moira Scouts.

The week before he died District Commissioner Ray McLeod visited Colin to award him with his 20 Years Service award for his time as a leader within the Scouting organisation.

In 2008 Colin was given another prestigious award - the Order of Merit for Outstanding Service to Scouting.

Since joining Second Lurgan Beavers Colin was involved with the Scouting movement for over 40 years.

Colin’s son Adam (19) is following in his father’s footsteps as a young leader at First Moira. He intends to start his Wood Badge leadership training this year.

And his other son Aaron (3) is also about to enter the organisation of Scouting when he joins Hill Street Squirrels where Colin’s sister and nephews are leaders.

Susan said Colin lived for the Scouts and valued all the friendships he made and the memories of camps and troop nights.

When he wasn’t Scouting, Colin loved to spend time with his wife Susan and their two boys. One of their favourite activities was caravanning holidays.

Colin was also a member of Kilmore Archery Club and was able to bring some of the local youth organisations along to the club and allow them to try their hand at archery.

At the end of November Colin found out he had pancreatic cancer. He died 11 weeks later.

Colin’s funeral was on Wednesday, February 13 at St John’s Church in Moira. He was given a guard of honour by local Scouts in full uniform who also carried the Queen’s Colours and Standards.

After a fitting send off for a man known in Scouting circles throughout County Armagh, Colin was buried in the adjoining churchyard at St John’s.