VETERAN leader Frank Crawley can zip around at scout nights after members of his troop bought him a mobility scooter.

The 83-year-old, who still takes charge of the 19th Swindon in Park North after nearly half a century as a leader in the movement, was struggling with his walking frame and unable to walk far.

So the group's committee decided to use a £500 donation from Redrow Homes to buy him a scooter and made a surprise presentation at Scouts.

He told the Adver: “This came up as quite a big surprise. One Friday night they were doing other presentations and at the end of it all, one of our scouters came through the door into the hall with this. He drove straight up to me and said this is it, you’re not going to be walking anymore. I thought it was wonderful, what can you say? I was lost for words.”

Frank, who runs the formal flag ceremonies at the beginning and end of the evening, has been in the Scouts since he was a young cub in London. He went through as a scout and a rover before becoming a leader in December 50 years ago

When he moved to Swindon he was approached by the Vicar of St John's Church in Wimbourne Avenue and asked if he would consider being the church troop's leader. He said he would give it a go and he's been part of scouting in Swindon ever since.

He said: “You learn something every day from children, you can never stop learning, it’s as simple as that. You go along and you do whatever, I’m a bit tied down now because I can’t get out and walk around with them, i’ve got to try and get along with this thing.

"I’m going to keep going with the group for as long as I can. I don’t do the outdoor activities anymore which is quite unfortunate because they go to Coate Water and Lawn Woods and they hike across the downs. I did it years ago so I’m okay now.”

During his years as a leader, Frank has been awarded the Silver Acorn for 20 years of service and the Silver Wolf, the highest award a Scouter can receive. He's been one of the 19th Swindon leaders for more than a decade.

Granddaughter Anne-Marie Goodman said: “As a family, all of us are really proud of Grandad and how long he’s been going there. A few of us have seen him in action while he’s at Scouts and Cubs and he really upholds some of the traditional values that Scouts used to have.

“That might change as time goes on with different generations but he definitely holds the traditional values that would want to be instilled in kids.

“The children definitely respect him for that and the fact that they went out and gifted him this scooter is a real sign that they want him there and shows they appreciate the hard work and they effort he puts in week in week out.”

Sarah Simpkins, chairman of the group said: “Frank’s commitment has made a huge impact on so many of the town’s young people"