Sheffield Scout Archives




Theodore Francis 'Spike' Johnson
1908 - 2001

"Theodore Francis Johnson known to many as 'Spike' and to his friends as 'Johnny' died after a short illness in July. A Memorial Service was held at Central United Reformed Church on Thursday, July 26 2001 when many Scouts past and present attended.

Johnny (or Spike), he answered to both, came to Sheffield in 1936 to teach at Firth Park Grammar School and became involved with the Scout Troop there, initially as ASM. It was before World War II that Theo Johnson ran a wide game for the Troop which had a Gangster theme, in this he took the part of a rough gangster known as Spike and this name stuck for the rest of his life. He began a Pack and a Troop at the King Edward Hospital at Rivelin at a time when parent visits were once a week and orthopaedic patients spent months in hospital. This break from the hospital routine was looked forward to by the patients, of course this meant other activities involving Scouts from Firth Park were held throughout the year. Spike became GSL until the closure of the Group when he became District Commissioner for Don District for a period of four years. He then continued to serve Sheffield Scouting as a Religious Advisor, Editor of Scout News and as the Archivist of the City Scout records. For all his service, he was awarded the Medal of Merit, the Silver Acorn and the Bar to the Silver Acorn.

His activities were not restricted to Scouting. He was a Lay Preacher in the Congregational Church and later the United Reformed Church, a Youth Leader at a City Centre Church, a Sunday School teacher and a football coach, running the under-14s team at Firth Park Grammar for over 30 years.

His influence on young people as a teacher, ghost story teller, friend, Youth Leader, Football Coach, Scout Leader and Sunday School teacher has been enormous. At the memorial service were friends from Scouting, former pupils, Church representatives and many others.

We have lost a very good friend, and all who knew him will give thanks for a life that influenced so many. We were lucky to know him, a good Scout who lived his life to the full".

From an Tribute by Alan Ogden published in Scout News


"Some years ago I was privileged to write an appreciation of Douglas Cass for Scout News and soon afterwards Spike came into the Shop and asked if I would, eventually, do the same for him. How could I refuse? Alan has covered his times and activities admirably but I would like to fulfil my promise by adding this personal note.

When I first met Spike - almost sixty years ago - it was a very different world. Whilst many of the masters at Firth Park had nicknames he was the exception - on the appropriate occasion, his could actually be used! Although he gave first priority to teaching history, he had a relaxed manner and could jolly things along, creating a buzz of interest ... which may not always have been appreciated in adjoining classrooms.

The School Troop was one of the foremost in the City. Before having their own Headquarters their base was a room at the very top of the School - decorated appropriately, including a list of their camps to distant locations which was an inspiration to members of many other Troops.

In later years Spike served Don District as DC, and again could bring a light touch to rather staid events such as AGMs. His presentation of District trophies could verge on the feel of a Dutch auction but there was no lack of interest - and certainly no long faces.

When the 210th closed, arrangements were made to dismantle the Headquarters and re-erect it at Grenoside. Always able to strike the right note, at the official opening Spike told the new owners that he had had a quiet word with the building. He had told it not to worry; it was being moved but it would soon be in use again and filled with busy, active youngsters.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who will always picture him, whether at Church, School, Scouting or on a sporting occasion, surrounded by busy, active youngsters all the happier for his presence".

From a Tribute in by Eric Moody published in Scout News