100 Years of Helensburgh Guides

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

girl_guides_logoHELENSBURGH and District’s Girl Guides marked the organisation’s centenary on Wednesday October 20 2010.

Princess Louise opened the first local Guide unit at Rosneath, and the Helensburgh guide HQ in John Street was opened in 1925 by Lady Baden Powell.

The local celebrations were launched a year early on Saturday September 5 2009 with a party for past and present guides.

Beveley Clarke, once a Brownie and for the past 20 years a guide leader, said: “We invited guides from the past to the party so we could all hear how it has changed over the years. It really kickstarted the celebrations.”

The actual centenary was on October 20 2010 at 7.10 p.m., when guides across Britain stopped whatever they were doing and renewed their guide promise, reflected on the fun of the past year, what the promise meant to them, and exploring hopes and dreams for the future.

The celebration was at the Victoria Hall in an event called 'The Vision'. Some 200 Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Trefoil members and leaders, past and present, watched on a big screen the live internet broadcast of guides renewing their promise. There was also a slide show of photographs from years gone by. The guest of honour was Helensburgh's first guide leader, 96 year-old Helen Daly.

All present then walked up Sinclair Street with glow sticks to the main entrance of Hermitage Park to watch a firework display in the tennis court area.

Division commissioner Linda Summer said afterwards: “It was a great end to the jam-packed year of celebrations. We were happy with the numbers who attended, considering it was a week night and late for the younger children. It was a special night.” 

It all began in the early years of the 20th century, after Robert Baden-Powell, a famous army general, tried out his ideas for training boys at a camp on Brownsea Island in 1907 and the following year published them in a book, Scouting for Boys.

The book was an instant success and boys throughout the UK enthusiastically took up Scouting. As a result, Baden-Powell soon found himself organising the Boy Scout Movement.

At the Scouts first rally, at the Crystal Palace in 1909, several small groups of girls turned up. They represented hundreds of other girls and insisted that they wanted to be Scouts too.

But in an age when skirts were ankle length and young ladies never ran, the idea of girls being involved in camping, hiking and similar activities received a mixed response.

Angry critics denounced 'girl scouting' as a 'mischievous new development', a 'foolish and pernicious movement' and an 'idiotic sport'.

The pioneers who turned up at the 1909 Crystal Palace rally called themselves Girl Scouts, but when he founded the girls movement, Baden-Powell decided that the name should change.

He wanted to create a separate identity for the girls so that they could work for self-development independently, not in imitation of their brothers. In 1910 he formed the Girl Guides, asking his sister Agnes to look after the new organchief_guide_liz_burnleyisation.

A few years later his wife Olave became involved and, in 1918, was appointed Chief Guide. Such was the enthusiasm for guiding that it soon spread worldwide and since those early days countless millions have made the Guide Promise.

Chief Guide Liz Burnley (right) said: “It’s 100 years since those determined girls marched into Crystal Palace, and since then guiding has travelled all the way round the globe. With 10 million members worldwide, it is the biggest organisation for girls and young women in the world.

“Our centenary was a chance to go all out, push some boundaries, pick up challenges, live a dream, and remind ourselves and the wider world what we're really made of.”