Miss Laidlaw

Cambridge District Scout Archive

1888 – 1949

Miss Laidlaw was Janet Young Laidlaw later an MD, a fact not recorded in any Scout archive document – the roles not overlapping. From a Scottish family she lived at Woodside (109) Grantchester Meadows, Cambridge in the family home until her death.  In 1911 she is listed on the Census as having no occupation, by 1939 she is listed as ‘Doctor’.

She qualified in 1933 the 1943 register giving ‘MRCS Eng., 1931; LRCP Lond., 1931; M.B., B.S. London 1933 U. Lond.’.

Associated with 14th Cambridge (St Columba) she was

  • 1913    Instructor
  • 1916    Warranted      (17/6/1916) and probably Akela
  • 1921    Lady CM in December
  • District badge secretary 1918 – 1929
  • ‘Bee Farmer’ badge examiner (one of very few women in the role for Scouts)
  • Member of the Association

The group was also supportive of the York Street Mission (4th Cambridge).  St Columba’s was a Presbyterian Church in these years.

Generally referred to as Miss Laidlaw the initials J. Y. are noted on the 1921 registration of the 14th pack and the address on a pre war secretary’s note and the 1921 registration, both confirmed by local census returns. She reigned her role as Badge Secretary in 1927 quoting pressure of work. The resignation was refused by District and ADC B Armstrong was put in as Deputy Badge Secretary in the hope that she could continue.

Her father was a Doctor as was a brother.  Two other brothers died during the Great War.  It was noted in histories of the church that the 14th survived the Great War under the eager leadership of Mr. J Stanley Ellis, a medical student.  Any link to her father’s practice is not clear.

Whilst un-named the lady sitting in the centre of the 14th Cambridge is almost certainly Miss Laidlaw.

Reveille! a single issue District magazine from January 1920 gives: 14th (St. Columba’s) The Troop owes everything to Erie (Eric) Curwain who won the Cornwell Badge 18 months ago, and to their fairy godmother, Miss Laidlaw. Now they are going ahead under S.M. F. Balfour-Melville, who has started a Rover Patrol, to which we wish all luck. Mr. Edge was back with them for a few months. The Curwain tradition of camping hasn’t been allowed to lapse: they had week-end Camps every month last spring; and they finished up last term with going to Babraham. They are also fairly successful in revising elementary work by inter-Patrol competitions.

JWR Archivist Jan 2023