Brownies always ahead of the pack

Dorset Echo: Preston Brownies and Guides present a Christmas show at Chalbury Lodge in the mid 1970s Preston Brownies and Guides present a Christmas show at Chalbury Lodge in the mid 1970s

THE recent pictures we published of Rosebuds – as the Brownies used to be called – and Guides brought in a wonderful response from many people.

Several people wrote in with names of girls and leaders in the photo of the 13th Weymouth Guides birthday party including Maureen Wilkinson (nee Tucker) who was pictured in the front row but not wearing a uniform as she had only joined the pack a couple of months beforehand.

She has very fond memories of troop leader Joan Bartlett and said: “Joan had been the captain long before I joined and was still captain into the 2000s, I think.

“Sadly, she died a few months ago but had been a great captain, always on the go as anyone who has camped with her will know.

“She was always first up in the morning and last to go to bed at night.

“One of the ‘greats’ of Guiding, she will be sadly missed, but not forgotten, by all her Guides and Rangers.”

While taking part in Girlguiding’s International Thinking day at Weymouth Pavilion on March 2, we also bumped into Doreen Symonds MBE who ran the Brownies and Guides in Preston, near Weymouth during the 1960s and 70s and was District Commissioner at one time.

She remembers her years spent running the packs and many of the girls and helpers who were with her.

Doreen said: “There used to be three Brownies packs in Preston.

“I moved there from Wyke Regis, where I was running a pack, and I said ‘give me six months to get straight before I take a new one on’, but in the end they only gave me six days!

“So I started and the other leaders were Monica Hoon, Joan Cooknell and Jean Young.”

At its height, Preston had two packs of Guides and 42 Brownies.

Doreen also lent us these lovely photos. One is of Olave Baden-Powell, who helped found Girlguiding, when she came to Dorset. Can anyone help us with the year of her visit?

There is also a picture of Mrs Symonds presenting Helen Hawkins and Angie Newman of 2nd Preston Guides with the Queen’s Guide Award.

Then, as now, the Preston Brownies were very active in the community and two of the photos here show them performing a Christmas show at Chalbury Lodge old people’s residential home sometime in the mid-1970s.

The home, at Chalbury Corner in Preston, is no longer there but the photos show everyone having a very enjoyable time at the performance.

There is also a picture of a group of Preston Guides, several of whom are now still living in the area with their own children.

The girls in the photo include Katharine Worth, Debbie Lewis, Juliet Quest, Tina Read, Jo Rodenhurst, Beccy Staniland, Tessa Emblen, Sian Hubbard, Angie Harris, Jane Willis, Cindy Ellery and Lisa Hill.

To celebrate the Brownies’ centenary, if anyone else has any old Brownie or Guiding photos they would like us to print, please get in touch.

The same goes for Scouting pictures – we would love to see them too.

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