Jack Banks

Born: March 27, 1935;

Died: December 10, 2023

Jack Banks was born in the Gorbals in 1935. His father died when he was a child. He was educated at Holyrood School until the age of 14 when he gained an apprenticeship as a painter and decorator. He was a member of the 192nd Scout Group in the Gorbals and his experiences there moulded his entire life. In 1952, he became the first Queen’s Scout in Glasgow and attended the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II as a result.

His national service was as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in the Malayan Emergency, and he was one of the few national servicemen to reach the rank of sergeant.

Jack’s lifelong service to the community began in 1957 when he became a Scout Master on a new council estate in Pollok, many miles from his home. His hard work and commitment resulted in his Scout group becoming the first, and to date only, housing scheme group to win the Glasgow Flags (awarded for the best Scout group in the city).

Jack stood six feet two inches tall, a giant among Glasgow youths, both physically and in character. The troop changed dramatically. Jack inspired and mentored 23 Scouts who reached Queen’s Scout level, the top of the tree in Scouting. His effect was tremendous and he was Scoutmaster of the 131 Troop for eight years.

He was then selected as the first ever district commissioner from a working-class background and eventually became the assistant area commissioner for Scouts in Glasgow. At the same time, he still led his Scout troop to further successes over a period of years and was a vigorous advocate for the introduction of girls into the movement.

Jack’s skills saw him appointed as the Scottish Leader for two World Scout Jamborees, in Canada and Japan. The Scouts who attended these events under his leadership vividly recall the preparation he put them through over a period of months before going abroad to represent Scotland.

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He eventually retired from active Scouting and became the lay chairman of his local Scout District for eight years. During this time he was responsible for assisting Scout Groups to thrive, expand and obtain new premises.

Jack Banks was a modest and quiet man who devoted his entire adult life to serving the community. He organised the Scottish Scout party for the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982. But, to his eternal credit, he did not put himself in the group who were introduced to the Pope. He allocated this prized place to one of the Scouts instead.

Jack’s effect on the boys from Pollok was extraordinary. He inspired Scouts who went on to have successful careers in many professions as skilled tradesmen, teachers and Armed Forces personnel. Others joined the legal profession, the Police, Fire Service and the Health Service. One was awarded the OBE and another became the conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. All would be unanimous in stating that he was a major developmental influence on their lives.

When Jack spoke about his former Scouts from Pollok, he said, “I think we were good for lots of the boys. It gave some of them a real home environment where they were part of a great gang of pals. Otherwise they could have gone the wrong way and ended up in prison – I had been saved by the Scouts when I lived in the Gorbals.”

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His service to the community continued during his retirement years in Cumbernauld. Jack was an enthusiastic volunteer with the Gardening Society, raised funds for the Carron Hospice and the annual Poppy appeal.

He was predeceased by his wife Margaret and is survived by his daughters Margaret and Elaine and two sons, James and Paul.