Girlguiding Cumbria South came together for the 45th Annual Gathering on Tuesday 16 April. It was an enjoyable evening, recognising the awards, achievement and adventures of the past year. Sue Gudgeon, county commissioner, set the tone for the rest of the night with an inspiring montage of photos; her personal highlights included our Herdy summer, Brownie and Guide Adventure Day and Baden Powell Challenge canoe camp, leaving us with a very empowering message of “yes, we can!”
Embodying this spirit perfectly, presentations throughout the evening shared experiences from Brownies, Guides and Senior Section members, as they described their adventures at the Beamish overnight weekend, conservation and volunteer trips to Belize, Nepal and Romania, the Cumbrian Women project, and the Wellies and Wristband festival. It was hugely inspiring to hear how girls and young women have been seizing opportunities to explore and do good in their communities and beyond.
The first awards of the evening followed, with the winners of the county Home Sweet Home challenge being announced. For this, participants were tasked with creating a model house, with the exhibition of all the models touring the county to raise money for Shelter. The Marian Salway challenge trophy was presented for the best Brownie unit entry to 1st Hawkshead. Their contributions to the exhibition were beautifully detailed, innovative and creative. The Jacqui Fulton trophy was bestowed for best individual Guide entries. First place was Dolly Greenall, 1st Ambleside, for an exceptional model. Second place went to Jenny Moffatt, 3rd Arnside, and joint 3rd place was awarded to Maddie Pickthall and Beau Shepherd, both from 3rd Arnside. 16th Barrow Rainbows received a well-deserved certificate for best Rainbow entry.
Next, the High Sheriff Shield was presented by Marcia Reid Fotheringham, High Sheriff of Cumbria, to Kate Asquith for her work co-ordinating the newsletter and designing the Annual Review. This was followed by the Flamingo Award, presented by Julie Walton, region chief commissioner, which was awarded to Lindsey Cooper, county outdoor adviser, for her phenomenal commitment to encouraging girls to be adventurous.
The evening closed with the Girlguiding and region honours. A Good Service award was presented to Katherine Knowles, county training adviser, for always going the extra mile and bringing a sense of fun to training days, and Jo Gaynor who, as Lakes Division commissioner, has succeeded in keeping several units open, all the while being supportive and friendly. The Region Chief Commissioner award went to Susan Benson, who, in her 40 years of service, has held 24 different appointments, including county secretary for Cumbria South and district and division commissioner for Barrow. She is truly an inspiration to the girls and young women she had inspired. Rhona Teale also received the Region Chief Commissioner award, with Julie Walton commenting that “if Rhona was a stick of Blackpool rock, she would have Girlguiding written right through her!”. She has always encouraged girls in Cumbria South to take advantage of every opportunity, most often by providing those opportunities herself.
Lastly came the long service awards, with Edith Gill receiving a heart-felt standing ovation when she collected her 60 years award. Susan Heyes notably also earned her 50 years award. It was so inspiring to share in the county’s achievements, and hear about the incredible opportunities seized by Cumbria South members in the past year. Thanks must be given to North Lonsdale division for hosting such a special evening.