FROM mother to daughter over generations, young girls across Swindon and beyond have proudly worn the Brownie colours – always staying true to their sisterhood’s motto and promise, caring for others and always offering a helping hand.
This year, no fewer than 1,500 young Girl Guides from the town and North Wiltshire and many former Brownies will mark the organisation’s centenary and pay their respects to the thousands of women who worked to make it one of the largest and most respected associations of its kind, not only in the region, but worldwide.
The festivities will start at the Hilton Hotel where more than 600 girls aged between seven and ten will gather to celebrate the Big Brownie Birthday and meet some of their most illustrious predecessors among the Brownie ranks.
1st Lyneham leader Jan Kelly, 56, has spent the last year planning an inaugural event, deserving of the organisation’s milestone anniversary as well as various challenges and excursions throughout the year, alongside fellow guiders .
“It’s a big milestone,” she said. “It’s special for the girls. It’s the fruition of what we’ve been working towards for months and it’s exciting.
“We have some VIPs coming, people who have been involved in Guiding throughout their lives.
“Guiding is relevant to girls today. It gives them good principles to live by. We are all about friendship and helping others.
“It’s something that stays with them.
“My mother was a guider, I’ve been a leader since 1974, all over the world, and my daughter is a guider in London. It gets in your blood. “For many people it is a family thing.”
The Brownies’ ancestor group, the Rosebuds, was founded in 1914 before taking on its current name the following year.
The moniker suggested by Robert Baden-Powell was inspired by children’s book The Brownies and Other Tales by Juliana Horatia Ewing.
The lavish party was suggested to leaders by the Brownies themselves.
“We launched a party survey and a majority said they wanted to go to a hotel and have a party because they had seen their parents do that or their brothers and sisters going to their proms,” added Jan.
“Between now and the summer, we will hold other events and the girls will take part in many challenges and learn about Brownies and what they did in the past.”
The number of young girls keen to attend the event forced organisers to split it into three two-hour slots throughout the day starting at 10.30am and finishing at 5.30pm.
As well as fun activities and the obligatory chocolate fountains and candy floss treats, they will be able to admire a display of uniforms worn by Brownies across the decades and quiz former members about their experiences as young Brownies.
The 100th anniversary celebration will continue over the next six months. As part of the Big Brownie Birthday, Girl Guides will be encouraged to delve into the organisation’s rich history and resurrect old Brownie traditions and customs as well as badges.