Maurice Baker was born on 8 December 1934 and spent his early years in Cambridge with his older sister, Audrey. He won a bursary to join The Perse and attended the School from 1945 – 1953. Throughout his life, Maurice recognised the great start in life his schooling gave him by making modest donations to the School’s Bursary Fund as his way to say thank you for that bursary.
Whilst at The Perse, Maurice was introduced to Scouting as part of the 5th Cambridge Scouts, as well as to the cadets. After school, he joined ICI and trained to be a plastics research chemist. His career was interrupted by a period of National Service, when he was posted to India and Malaya with the Army Catering Corps and where he discovered a lifelong talent for cooking.
Throughout his time in the Army, Maurice continued in Scouting. He became the Scout Leader of the 19th Jahore Bahru Troop in Malaya for service families whilst on National Service and continued this in the Hertfordshire Scouts when he returned to the UK.
Maurice had a passion for the development of young people. In the 1960s he became a part of Hertfordshire Scouts’ growing involvement in developing mountaineering skills and the County Adventure Centre at Lochearnhead in Scotland. He developed and shaped training courses for young people with his lifelong friend, George Moody. Maurice became the hub of the courses – organising, publicising, administering and delivering them. He led expeditions for Scouts to adventurous places, including Turkey, the Lofoten Islands in Norway and Kashmir. All of these trips gave young people from Hertfordshire the opportunity to explore lands they had only read about and helped them make their dreams come true.
In total, Maurice spent over 60 years in Scouting (acknowledged by the Chief Scout in a Long Service Presentation in April 2014). He gave excellent service at all levels of the movement, recognised by awards such as the Medal of Merit, the bar to the Medal of Merit, the Silver Acorn, the bar to the Silver Acorn and the Silver Wolf which is the unrestricted gift of the Chief Scout and is only awarded for service of a most exceptional nature. In addition, Maurice was awarded the Chief Scouts Commendation for Meritorious Conduct for his organisation and coordination of the rescue of an injured Scout during the first of the County Expeditions to the Lofoten Islands in 1971.
He passed away on 13 February 2018, at the age of 83. Maurice had devoted much of his life to inspiring young people and encouraging them to be the best they could be. In death, he was able to continue this passion, by leaving a 6-figure legacy gift to The Perse School’s Bursary Fund. This gift will support a number of young people through The Perse and will enable them to benefit from the same great education that Maurice had, regardless of their family circumstances.
Maurice’s good friend, Gordon Marshall, said of Maurice at his funeral: “The Perse motto – Qui facit per alium facit per se – pretty much describes the way Maurice led his life. He gave young people a chance, helped to nurture and support them, recognised when they were able to go off on their own and celebrate their development whilst remaining watchful and to be there to help them when needed, whilst all the time remaining courteous and generous. There are many words that could be used to describe Maurice – colleague, leader, inspiration, mentor, neighbour, chef, raconteur, good counsel – but above all he was a great friend.”
Maurice’s gift to The Perse will enable that spirit of the School motto to live on.