“Chief” Alfred James Martin was the founder and first Scoutmaster (Group Scout Leader) of 2nd Edgware.
In 1929 Edgware was a small country village with no uniformed organisations of any kind, only a bunch of lads forming the St. Margarets boys club. The rector, the Rev. H.A.H. LEA wanted a scout group, by chance along came a stranger from Golders Green, Mr A.J. Martin who was keen to start scouting in our district.
Martin was previously a member of the Naval Brigade and was sent to Belgium in 1914, where he spent most of his time as a prisoner of war. After the war he was a tailor and the Scoutmaster of the 5th Hendon. He had also been instrumental in bringing Scouting to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, in the form of the 1st Brockley Hill Troop, and was the Rover Leader there for some time. He had a short stay at 8th Hendon, who hand-picked members based on skill. This he did not like and his strong sense of fairness appealed to Lea.
The first meeting with ‘Chief’ was on the 2nd of October 1929, in Truth Hall. He had a dynamic personality, bubbling over with enthusiasm and always dressed immaculately in his uniform with shorts, scout hat and knobbly knees. In his quiet unassuming way he inspired the lads to form the 2nd Edgware Group. He told them scouting was a game, and a way of living and he guided them through the happiest days of their lives.
Chief would often sit round a camp fire and tell old stories and yarns, mostly first World War experiences. Chief was a devout Christian who led by example. The high light of each month was the Church parade, eventually with the band. He was an unforgettable character who built a monument for future generations in the 2nd Edgware.
“To our camps by big sea waters,
Great White Chief has oft sped us,
All the Scouting skills he taught us,
Through our youthful years he led us.”
“Though are trails are now dividing,
In each heart, his counsels hiding,
Serve us still, in truth abiding,
On through life our footsteps guiding.”