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Christopher J. Holcroft
Only The Brave Dare
“Venturer Scout Scott Morrow has his courage and initiative tested on a grand scale as he tries to outwit a group of Russian Mafia who have taken he and his fellow Venturers prisoner.
Scott’s Venturer unit go on a holiday and when the boys and their leader paddle out to explore a wrecked submarine on a reef, they encounter the Mafia who go to the boat to pick up packages of heroin left overnight by a Russian mother ship.
The Mafiosi take the boys prisoner and lock them in a disused convict jail and lighthouse while they plan their escape. Scott manages to make a heroic dash for freedom and uses the lighthouse as a weapon against the gangsters in a bid to rescue his fellow Venturers and leader.”
The Morrow household was in a state of organised turmoil as Scott and the rest of the family rushed to put the finishing touches to their best clothes.
Scott was busy spraying starch on his Scout shirt and ironing it into shape. This was a day he had long looked forward to over the past twelve months. It was a day he knew would be tinged with sadness and also full of happiness when he gathered with the other members of his Venturer unit at Government House.
“Come on Scott or we’ll be late!” called Scott’s mother, Kelly.
“I’m almost finished! Just a few more strokes,” Scott replied as he put the finishing touches to his crisply-ironed shirt. “You know I like to have sharp creases in my sleeves.”
“Yes, I know, just like Mike’s shirts. That man will haunt us for some time,” Kelly answered.
Scott, his parents and older brother David, made their way into the family car and drove to the city. Today Scott would be presented with two awards - one for bravery and the other his Queen’s Scout Certificate by the State Governor. The Queen’s Scout Certificate was the culmination of passing proficiency badges within the teenage section of Scouting called Venturers and was the highest possible award.
The bravery award was something special. It was the highest civilian award that could be handed out by the Government. Scott was nervous and excited.
“Remember, keep a straight back and when the media start talking to you about the bravery award, look the reporters in the eye when answering - not into the camera,” Scott’s father, Allan cautioned.
“I will. I’ll just be glad when today is over so I can go back to living a normal life,” Scott said. “I’m tired of the glare of TV cameras. What I did is what anyone else in my circumstances would do.”
“Not really. It took guts to take on those clowns and help bring them to justice,” David stated as he wound his window down.
The journey to the city took around thirty minutes. The Morrows were indeed lucky today as they were allotted special parking behind Government House. When the Morrows approached the front gate of Government House a media throng was ready to meet them.
“That’s him! Roll the cameras! Quickly!” came a yell from a number of news crews waiting to capture Scott and the other award recipients on film.
“Wave to them slowly Scott,” Allan told his son. “Okay?”
Allan drove to his designated spot after being guided by State police who were assisting with parking in the grounds.
“I hope he’s here. I really do,” Scott said to his mum.
“He’ll turn up, you watch. Do you really think he would miss your special day?” Kelly said.
“I hope not. It will be good to see him again.”
The family alighted from the car and were ushered into the rear entrance of Government House to meet the governor.
“This place is like a palace. Have a look at the giant chandelier - it must have a million lights in it - never mind the crystal!” Scott was suddenly struck by the grandeur of the main drawing room.
He was introduced to the governor, a retired Major General who welcomed him with a beaming smile.
“Hello Scott, I have heard so much about you. Welcome to my humble abode,” announced General Brian McGrath.
“Humble? This place is fit for a king or queen,” Scott replied.
“Well, after all, the house was built with royalty in mind, as this is where they stay if ever the Royal family comes to Sydney.”
“Gee, I haven’t seen so many stained glass windows and paintings in a house before.”
The governor smiled and said, “If you like, you can come back another time and I’ll arrange a personal tour of the house and show you what it is really like.”
“That would be cool. Mum, Dad, can I come back and have a look over this palace please?” Scott asked.
“Of course you can. Major General McGrath has invited you, and it would be an honour to see all of this colonial masterpiece,” Scott’s dad, Allan replied.
Scott mingled with the other guests for around twenty minutes while the grounds of Government House filled to capacity with family members, guests and members of the public. It was a cloudless day with hardly any wind. A great day for photos. The governor looked out the window and back at his watch and turned to Scott. “Are you ready?”
“Yes,” the teenager replied.
“Don’t be nervous. You have done your country a great honour and in doing so, helped save the lives of your friends. Be proud of yourself. You deserve it,” the general said as he withdrew from the window.
The award recipients moved out of Government House and formed up with the Scout pipe and drum band and marched around the rear gardens to the front gates. The official guests took their seats and the band struck up. The march to the front of Government House with the other Venturers and special award recipients was around 500 metres long.
In Scott’s mind it took an eternity. The moment the band master twirled his baton and the band sounded, the crowd started rising to its feet. News crews were at the front of the band filming and then walking beside the marchers. A number of times cameramen walked beside Scott as he proudly marched towards the lawns in front of Government House.
Scott scanned the crowds but he couldn’t see Mike, his Venturer leader or any of his fellow Venturers. An air of disappointment started coming over him as he saw the official podium come into view ahead of him. Just then, a pea whistle started sounding and a large banner reading, Well Done Scott was hoisted above the crowd.
A chant started rising from somewhere near the banner as the crowd began joining in, “Well done Scott! Well done Scott! Well done Scott!”
The media went berserk and they turned their attention onto the crowd to capture the mood and then back to Scott. Suddenly, a lone Scout lemon-squeezer hat could be seen near the banner and as the crowd started to part to allow the media in, Scott saw his Venturers all turned out in their best uniforms and all singing in unison, “Well done Scott!”
The teenager began to lose it emotionally, until he saw Mike Hunter, his Venturer leader under the lemon-squeezer hat give him a thumbs up. Mike then joined his Venturers in the chorus and the crowd kept the chant going, almost drowning out the band. The bandmaster lifted his baton and the marchers came to a halt.
The band turned left and the marchers went to the right to form a hollow square on the lawns. Scott looked up at Government House and saw the governor peering down through the curtains at him. When their eyes met, the general closed his fist and also put his thumb up to Scott before allowing the curtains to close again.
The governor’s aide-de-camp came striding out of Government House to the podium. The band stopped playing and Major General McGrath walked out to resounding applause from the now well worked-up crowd. He stood at the podium and the aide-de-camp called the recipients to attention. The band then played the national anthem while the governor and the recipients saluted. At the end, the governor called on the recipients to stand easy and for the crowd to sit.
“Distinguished guests, award recipients, ladies and gentlemen. It is not often so much emotion sweeps through these portals, but today is different.” Major General McGrath continued, “Today we honour a number of Venturers who have worked hard and tirelessly to obtain the necessary proficiency badges to enable them to receive their Queen’s Scout Award - Scouting’s highest youth award.
“We also have a number of very special people who have placed self-sacrifice above all the rest and helped their fellow people ...”
The banner from Scott’s unit was hoisted high and the Venturers started singing out again, “Well done Scott! Well done Scott!”
The crowd started picking up the chant again and the media suddenly started running back to Scott’s Venturers. The governor paused as he acknowledged the crowd and the chant reached a new crescendo. He waited a few moments and then continued, “One of our special awardees seems to have captured the hearts of you all, as I know he captured the hearts of our nation recently.
“This is the day we pay special homage to ...”
Scott started to shed a tear as he was overcome with emotion. It had been almost a year since his Venturer unit had gone on their fateful camp.
Only The Brave Dare by Christopher J. Holcroft
(Age 12+) Described by the author as a modern Biggles, Only the brave dare is the story of a group of Venturers who uncover a drug deal by the Russian Mafia while exploring a wrecked submarine. Taken captive by the gang, it is up to Scott, an unassuming Venturer, to find a way to save his mates.
The action switches from the Venturers to the Russian Mafia in alternate chapters or sections, helping to identify the characters and what is happening. A more sophisticated reader may find the italics for different speakers distracting and the conversation rather heavy handed.
A fast paced adventure story, this will appeal to boys who are in the Scouting movement and the descriptions of the advantages of being a Venturer would perhaps encourage young boys to join the group.
Pat Pledger - ReaderPlus
'Dare to be brave'
Only The Brave Dare, by Christopher Holcroft, is a novel about Venturers on a camping trip who cross paths with the Russian Mafia.
The book begins with a Queens Scout presentation and then introduces the main character.
The world of Scouting and Venturing is described as the novel incorporates an emotional touch to the characters' interactions.
The novel switches between different characters in different locations with different roles in a fashion that is simple to understand.
Although there is the occasional violence, the author's description is acceptable for teenage readers.
Only The Brave Dare portrays the Scouts as an organised, independent unit with some of their feats and routines seeming almost unbelievable.
However, their feats and routines are plausible with the Venturers' training and experience.
With the novel being set for a younger age, and using younger characters as the main role players, Only The Brave Dare is a gripping read for any teenager.
Although the novel has several corny pages at the start, overall, it is a suspenseful and entertaining read.
The novel is definitely a decent, educational experience for any teenager.
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