Tag Archives: royal family

Happy birthday to Her Majesty

queen's birthday 1 - Copy.jpg

Back in the summer, my Division held a garden party for girls, to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Only one of my Rainbows went, and I wasn’t involved in running anything, but it was fun to attend, watch, and be vaguely useful.

The girls made and decorated crowns to wear, constructed a hobby horse (in teams) and did relay races, and did a trail looking for the names of members of the royal family around the garden.

Then we had a tasty afternoon tea and did group photos with an arch some leaders had made, and a cardboard cutout of Her Maj herself. (We’ve still got the cutout, if anyone has a use for it…)

Royals in the rain, Brownies on a train

Last week’s big guiding events happened without me, but they’re definitely exciting enough to share.

On Friday the Earl and Countess of Wessex (who is, of course, the President of Girlguiding and a Brownie helper) visited town.  We found out less than 2 weeks before, and in the middle of the Easter holidays, but thanks to some speedy communication between my District Commissioner and the town Mayor, and swift messages from leaders to parents, we got together a good-sized group to meet her.  They braved the rain, joined the crowds lining the streets, and a Brownie presented Sophie with a bouquet (beautiful, made by a Brown Owl).  I missed it as I was at work, but it’s brilliant to see the pictures of Sophie and Edward with our girls and leaders.  When people meet the royal family, they tend to remember it for the rest of their lives, so it’s very special to have had this chance.

The next day was possibly even more exciting.  To celebrate the Big Brownie Birthday, and in a wonderful feat of organisation, my county took over an entire train to London.  Hundreds of Brownies and their leaders piled on at the station and into carriages.  There was a competition for the best-decorated carriage (won by a group from my Division!) so the train was full of bunting, flags, banners, cakes, balloons and excited girls.  My Facebook feed has been full of wonderful pictures of this all weekend.  When the train arrived in London the Brownies were met by the Chief Guide, and each group was free to do their own thing until it was time for the train to return.  My local Brownies went on an open-topped bus and the London eye.  It looks like it was a wonderful day out, and again something that the girls will remember through their lives.  I’m in awe of everyone who worked hard to make it happen.

The power of letter-writing

One of my Guides has just been elected as a member of the UK Youth Parliament.  We’re proud of her, and her success is no doubt due to her qualities and hard work and her family’s support.  However, what’s also nice is that guiding played a small role in it, too.  Here’s the story:

Back in September, when we were planning the term in the Guide hall, my Unit Leader spotted a letter on a Brownie unit’s display board.  It was from one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, thanking the Brownies for their letter to Her Majesty.  Unit Leader said “I want a letter like that!”, and we came up with the idea of combining it with learning about our new Promise.

The following week, the Guides learned the new Promise, thought about what it means, and wrote letters to people connected with it: the royal family, community leaders, religious leaders, members of Girlguiding, newspapers.  We provided some names and addresses as inspiration, but we weren’t too strict about what/to whom they wrote, and some girls went outside the box, e.g. writing to comedian David Walliams asking if he’d like to come to Guides one night!

We also provided proper Basildon Bond writing paper and our Unit Helper wrote an excellent example of a letter on big paper.  The art of letter-writing is an important skill!

The leaders read through the letters before posting them.  Some made us laugh, and some made us feel all warm and fuzzy inside as the girls had written how much they enjoyed Guides and felt positive about the new Promise – often girls we wouldn’t have expected.  We hadn’t even told them we’d be reading the letters!  I highly recommend this activity if you feel in need of a morale boost.

One of the older Guides had even written a letter to Unit Leader thanking her for the last few years.  She entrusted it to Young Leader to post, and Unit Leader was delighted to receive it a few days later.

Over the next few weeks, we started to receive replies (all the girls had used Unit Leader’s address, so she brought the letters in each week).  We had several from the Queen’s ladies in waiting (all different, not just a stock template); and replies on behalf of the Countess of Wessex, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the town council, and David Walliams (sadly, he’s a very busy man).  One girl had written to the Chief Guide, Gill Slocombe, and to our delight she replied with a handwritten letter and a friendship badge!  It was so exciting for the girls who had their letters and comments acknowledged (though sadly not everyone got a reply), as it shows that they really do have a voice and the means to make it heard.

The Guide who I mentioned at the start of this post had written to the Prime Minister saying that she wanted to be PM one day and asking for advice.  One of his staff replied with some tips, including standing for the UK Youth Parliament.  Six months later, there she is.

As I said, I’m sure she would have done something like this sooner or later, but it’s great that an activity at Guides was a bit of a catalyst.  I hope she’ll remember us when she becomes PM in a few decades!

Princes and princesses

This week’s meeting was run by our Young Leader to cover a few last programme tasks for her Adult Leadership Qualification (ALQ).  Although she’s been with us for 4 years and helped in many ways with many things, she’s never planned or taken leadership of a whole meeting before so it was an exciting first.  She did brilliantly, and it was so nice for the rest of us knowing that all we had to do this week was turn up in costume and await instructions.

Home-made fascinator

My fascinator, made hastily from an Alice band, a paper plate, marker pens, feathers, and duct tape.

The theme was princes and princesses, chosen by Young Leader and the Guides back in December when we were coming up with ideas for this term.  Almost everyone remembered to come in costume, and those who didn’t managed to improvise with paper crowns and accessories borrowed from others.  There was quite a range of interpretations of the theme, from  long pouffy dresses to dapper waistcoated princes to Princess Leia.

We spent about half an hour decorating masquerade masks with paper, fabric, sequins etc.  Very simple, flexible craft, and the Guides were very happy and produced some beautiful masks.

Decorated masquerade masks

Deocrated masquerade masks

Then we played a game where everyone had a sticker on their back with the name of a famous prince or princess (mostly from Disney and the royal family).  We had to guess who we were by asking yes/no questions, then find our partner.  It was a good way to get us mingling, though some of the Guides found it surprisingly hard to stick to yes/no questions.  (“Am I a prince or a princess?”  “Who am I married to?”)

Post-it notes with "Cinderella" and "Aurora" written on, stuck onto Guides' backs

While some leaders got the next thing ready, the Guides got into patrols and spent 15 minutes planning Go-For-Its for next week.  Once again, some had mysteriously vanished.  Hurrah, another week where all I need to do is turn up!

Finally, we had a delicious “afternoon” tea with cakes, crisps, sandwiches, lemonade and milkshake.  While the girls were eating, Unit Leader gave out notices of events coming up, and asked the Guides if they thought Young Leader had done well, which they all agreed she had.  Some wrote comments in her ALQ book, which will be nice for her to look back on.  All in all, a very good evening: the theme wasn’t one that I’d have guessed the Guides would enjoy so much, but they really did.  Not to mention any excuse for dressing up and having a bit of a party.

Table with plates of cakes and sandwiches