A LONG-serving Scout leader who had worked as a nurse has died from Covid-19.

Great grandmother Ruth Abell died in Colchester Hospital. She was 75.

Sir Sir Bob Russell, president of Colchester Scouts, paid tribute to Mrs Abell who served the Scout movement for more than 40 years.

He said: “Her whole family was devoted to Scouting, with three generations serving as leaders with a combined total service of more than 100 years.

“Mrs Abell was awarded Scouting’s Medal of Merit and Bar in recognition of her dedicated and long service, all of it with the 1st Colchester Scout Group where she was Akela to hundreds of Cub Scouts over more than four decades.

“She became involved with Scouting by chance, when her eight-year-old son William joined the 1st Colchester Cubs.

“She was asked to help with a fundraising sale, then made some cakes to sell and before long she was helping at meetings and later became a leader.

“She ceased playing an active role four years ago but retained her membership of Scouting.”

Mrs Abell was born in Burnham-on-Crouch and trained to become a children’s nurse with Dr Barnardo’s in Kelvedon before working at Essex Hall mental hospital near Colchester North Station.

Shortly after her 20th birthday she married her husband, Jim, who was serving in the Army, based at Colchester.

She joined him on two postings in West Germany, as well as in the UK, before Mr Abell left the Army in 1974.

In July 1974 the family moved to Colchester and Mrs Abell started at Severalls Hospital as a nursing assistant.

Later she became a housekeeper at Severalls Hospital where she was responsible for one of the units for people with mental illness.

Sir Bob said: “I have known Mrs Abell throughout her entire time in Scouting. She was one of the most dedicated and conscientious people I have ever known to wear the Scout uniform with so much pride and enthusiasm – her powerful personality and determination to do the best she could for the youngsters under her command was a joy to observe.”

Sir Bob said Mrs Abell’s family all supported Scouting.

He said: “Six leaders from the same family, over three generations, made them the largest family operation of any Scout Group in Colchester.

“Mrs Abell was someone who for years gave to the community through her inspirational leadership with Cub Scouts, putting in many hours week after week for four decades, not just volunteering of her time but also helping to finance what she provided for the youngsters.

Her dedication was never called into question. She was reliable, conscientious, honest, trusted.

“She was a volunteer who made a difference, a big difference, for the benefit of others hundreds of youngsters over her long years of voluntary public service to Scouting.”

Although Mrs Abell stopped being active with scouting in 2016, this was not the end of her community engagement.

For the last four years, she and her daughter, Debbie, baked cakes to sell to raise money for the neo natal unit at Colchester Hospital.