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One Hundred Years of Girl Guiding - from
“Uninvited” to “Girls in the Lead” - Part 1

Part One - The history of Guiding. In 2010, Girl Guiding will celebrate its Centenary.

When Robert Baden-Powell held the first Scout Rally at the Crystal Palace on September 4th 1909 he was surprised to see a few determined girls who turned up unannounced wanting to be Girl Scouts. The girls told Baden-Powell they wanted him to start ‘something for the girls’.

During his time in India, Baden-Powell was impressed by the courage and discipline of a regiment called the Khyber Guides, and he decided to use the name Girl Guides.

In 1910 his sister Agnes Baden-Powell agreed to organise and lead the new movement. Later, when asked ‘Who started the Guides?’ he replied ‘They started themselves’.

In 1914 a new section was started for younger girls. They were called Rosebuds. The girls were not impressed with that name and asked for it to be changed. In 1915 they became ‘Brownies’ and their company leader was called Brown Owl. The ideas for these names came from a book The Brownies and Other Tales by Juliana Ewing.

By 1917 there was a need for a section of senior girls and in 1920 the name Rangers was adopted. The Trefoil Guild was formed in 1943 for men and women who have been or still are in some way connected with Scouting and Guiding. In June 1987 guidelines for Rainbows were published for girls aged five to seven.

There are now 10 million Guides in 145 countries worldwide and girls today continue to have fun while learning to work as part of a team, to gain confidence, to try new things, to become worthwhile and caring citizens, and to ‘take the lead’ in their own communities.

Guiding in Barrow

First some starting dates:
* 1st Barrow Guides were registered on 30th April 1923 although they probably actually started in   December 1922.
* 2nd Barrow Guides were registered on 27th May 1977 and closed on February 22nd 1999. * 1st   Barrow Brownies began in 1929.
* 2nd Barrow Brownies began in 1976.
* Barrow Rainbows began on 6th September 1994.
* Rangers began in ? (no-one seems to know when it started, so perhaps you would like to let us know on 07718 153117)

Over the past few weeks, Barrow Voice reporters have been out and about to interview some of the Brownies, Guides and leaders of past times.

Mrs Jean Glen, who will shortly celebrate her 90th birthday, remembered being one of the first Brownies. She enjoyed the games that were played at meetings in the Church Rooms and also remembered being very excited when the group was taken for a trip on a train. She moved up into the Guides when she was 11 and commented that the Guide Captain, Miss Ivy Stone who was the vicar’s daughter was strict but fair. Jean has tried to stick to the Guide Promise to ‘do a good deed every day’ and she also tries to ‘Be Prepared’.

Mrs Jean Wright, who later became the Akela for Barrow Cubs for 30 years, also joined the Brownies in their very early days. There were 15 girls under the leadership of Brown Owl Lucy Marlowe. In those days Brownies wore a brown tunic, belt and beret. As now, they sang songs, went on walks and trips and learnt to do all manner of useful things such as peeling potatoes. She moved up to Guides which was also in the Church Rooms and was in the Daisy patrol. She gained a number of badges including laundress, cooking and sewing, learnt to tie different kinds of knots, practised lashing to make camp gadgets, went tracking and learnt to navigate using the sun. She particularly enjoyed campfires. She wore the blue Guide tunic onto which her badges had to be laboriously stitched, and a big navy hat.

When Jean was 16, she moved to Rangers but then left to take over the cub pack. Jean’s sister, Rose Godwin was also a Brownie and Guide with Jean. Rose went on to become the Guide Captain from 1958 to 1966.

Marion Godwin is Rose Godwin’s daughter in law. In early 1972 the Guides were without a Captain. Rose was asked to ‘keep an eye’ on the group and keep it ticking over. Marion went along to help her and ‘I never got away’. She took over the group and was Captain for 15 years. She had to leave most of the camping to Carole Wheatley because she couldn’t get time off work. She remembers when Carol went to be tested for her Camping Licence. Carol was under canvas for a week and it never stopped raining.

Carol Wheatley started in 1972 helping Marion Godwin with 1st Barrow Guides as the Lieutenant. Demand for places was rising steadily and in 1977 when numbers reached 36 it was decided to split into two groups. Carol took 2nd Barrow Guides but insisted that her two daughters stayed with Marion ‘otherwise they would always be grumbling that I was picking on them’.

By now there was a Scout HQ and the 1st group met there while the new 2nd group met in Hall Orchard. Very quickly both groups had 30 Guides apiece. Carol clocked in 24 years service with Guides. She always tried to do as much out of doors as possible and she particularly enjoyed the May Bank holiday weekend camp. Quite often it was in The Brand on Colonel Martin’s land in Swithland Woods. She remembers carting equipment in two wheelbarrows between his house and the campsite. She is very proud of the Sunday Roast that was served up each year: the wood patrol went out early to scavenge for suitable fire wood. They lit the fire as soon as they got back and the cook patrol pot roasted a huge brisket of beef in a camp billie from breakfast time to dinner time. Then it was served up with all the trimmings. Regular Guide meetings involved patrol work where Guides learnt to work as a team and patrol leaders practised leadership skills that probably stood them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

Tilly Yates took over Brownies in November 1968 replacing Dorothy Larkworthy. After the appointment was made Tilly went to tell her father the news. She knocked at the door and said ‘Dad, I’m Brown Owl’, to which he responded ‘And I’m the queen of the fairies.’

The group was so successful that a second one was formed in 1976 and this too became oversubscribed. In fact one mother-to-be put her child’s name on the waiting list before she was even born. This was Jennifer Smith who is now a Guider herself. She was on the list as “? Smith. Fortunately she turned out to be female! There were many activities and trips to interesting places including London as well as the annual District Trip when 100 excited Brownies descended on an unsuspecting population.

Nowadays the Brownie movement has its own website and on one blog there was a message posted from an ex Brownie, now herself a leader, which said ‘Tilly Yates would be proud of me!’ ...and indeed she is! On another occasion Tilly was approached in a Garden Centre by a young woman who said ‘You used to be my Brown Owl.’ The impression made by Brownies on that young woman had stayed with her for years.

One of the things which Tilly feels to be very important for the development of these young people is the annual Pack Holiday. ‘Learning to live in close proximity with other girls is a truly valuable life experience of give and take in all circumstances.’

Val Gillings “I joined the newly formed 2nd Barrow Brownies in 1976 to assist Brown Owl Vanessa Freer. My title was Little Owl. Even though we had two packs and special dispensation to have 30 Brownies instead of 24, we always had a waiting list of girls eager to join.

When Vanessa moved away I became Brown Owl. Looking back I remember these little seven year olds joining Brownies, some of them very timid but they all diligently learned their Brownie Law and Promise ready for the enrolment evening. It was also a chance for older Brownies to earn their hostess badge, baking cakes and making tea for the proud parents. The evening always ended in a sing song with ‘An Austrian went yodelling’ being a firm favourite.

The joint pack holidays with 1st Barrow Brownies were in the days when we were full time mums of young children and we were able to go away for a full week; what great times we had! All pack holidays have a theme, and one of my favourites was the International one, where we cooked food from different countries every day. Many of the Brownies tried a dish for the first time. I also remember the time a photographer came to take our usual pack photo and asked me if I would lie on the floor in front of the Brownies instead of the usual stand in the middle at the back. I duly obliged and the Brownies loved it.

It is gratifying to see some of ‘My Girls’ as members of the Youth Theatre & Panto Group carrying on the tradition of working together and putting something back into the community, and also hearing of other’s success in their chosen careers and those who are now mums with daughters who are Brownies. The movement goes on, and hopefully many past Brownies will be at the celebrations next year for One Hundred Years of Guiding.”

The second half of the story in the next edition will concentrate on Guiding in Barrow today and features the people who give time and energy to keeping alive the values of the Guide movement in the 21st century.