[T]he Laurel Award is to Girlguiding what the Oscars are to the film industry, and well-known Newby Bridge woman Barb Littlewood has just won such an Oscar. Only a handful are awarded every year nationwide, for “outstanding or exceptional service” spanning a period of time and a wide number of roles.
Barb was a Brownie and a Guide, and, as an adult became a Guide Leader in South Manchester, before moving to Cumbria in 1996, when she started running Flookburgh Brownies and Guides, eventually becoming the Leader of Grange Rangers for a period, and is now the Unit Leader at Grange Brownies. Roles as District, Division and County Commissioner soon followed, she helped organise Cumbria South’s celebrations for Girlguiding’s Centenary in 2010, which included a pop concert ‘Cumbagig’, for 2,000 girls, leaders and parents at Westmorland Showground, a celebration parade at Cartmel Priory for 700 girls and leaders, and in 2014 her role culminated in the Big Brownie Birthday where more than 2,000 Brownies from across Cumbria celebrated with a fun day at Muncaster Castle.
One of Barb’s regional roles within Girlguiding was to set up a group of girls who could influence regional decisions, leading to the establishment of the much-imitated Express group. Many of the girls in that body now have far-reaching Girlguiding roles themselves and Barb is justifiably proud of them: “This is what Guiding is all about: Opening opportunities for girls and young women and encouraging them to grab them with both hands.”
What, for her, makes Girlguiding so special? For Barb it is the fact that the organisation “cares for the individual and supports you through thick and thin”, it “doesn’t judge” and it gives “many girls the confidence to achieve amazing things.”
Region Chief Commissioner for the North West, Julie Bell, was clearly moved when she declared herself honoured to be able to present Barb with her Laurel Award, describing her as an “inspiration.” She added that “Barbara has a wonderful ability to nurture a simple idea into something exciting and worthwhile which gives girls and adults alike a sense of sharing something special.”
And Barb’s response to gaining the coveted honour? “Who would have thought that that naughty Brownie from Old Colwyn in North Wales could achieve such an amazing award? It just goes to show what can be achieved in this brilliant organisation I am so incredibly proud and humbled to be part of.”