Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Rangers and Young Leaders from all over the South of Cumbria recently celebrated a multitude of individual achievements in an inspiring awards ceremony. Sarah Beale, the new County Commissioner for Girlguiding Cumbria South, inaugurated an annual celebration, Aspire, in order to applaud individual girls’ successes and inspire others to set their sights equally high.
53 girls received individual awards and many others represented their units who also gained prizes. The youngest prize winners were 18 Rainbows who earned their Gold Awards, the first in the exciting new Girlguiding programme. They were followed by 12 Brownies, who also gained Gold, and 19 Guides who achieved their Baden Powell Awards.
10-year-old Lana Hamilton, from 1st Dalton St Mary’s Guides, eloquently explained how she worked for her Explore Arts Award, through writing poetry, taking part in a local production of the Railway Children and trying her hand at calligraphy. In the Home Sweet Home competition, 13 year-old Dolly Greenall, from 1st Ambleside Guides, was the individual winner of the best house. The Rainbows, Brownies and Guides were challenged to make a two-dimensional representation of a real or imaginary house. Dolly made hers using fabric to create a patchwork effect.
The assembled girls, with some of their leaders, parents and friends, heard a presentation from Windermere Brownies about their weekend visit and sleepover at Beamish which saw 320 Brownies and 80 adults explore the museum.
Several older girls described how they grew up with Girlguiding and how this journey inspired them to undertake a variety of adventures. Thus Verity Shaw, age 21, who is currently a Leader with 1st Crosscrake Guides, described trips to Mexico and Uganda as well as gaining her Queen’s Guide Award, pointing out how grateful she was for these life-changing opportunities. She is now about to set off for India where she will spend six months as a volunteer staff member at Sangam, one of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ five World Centres.
Charlotte York, 17, from Askam, Kirkby and Broughton district, spoke about her visit to Our Cabana, the Mexican World Centre, where she attended a big international meeting of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. During her stay she combined a cultural visit with community service. Rebecca Armstrong, 26, described how she collected a total of around 350 badges in her Girlguiding career, which are now waiting to be sewn onto her camp blanket. Even whilst at Cambridge University she volunteered as a Brownie leader and then gained her Queen’s Guide award, which was presented to her at the House of Lords. Now back in Cumbria, she is the division commissioner for Barrow in Furness.
Beth Howarth Henry also gave a very impressive account of how, during her higher apprenticeship with BAE Systems, she realised just how underrepresented women are in this field and decided to do something about it. With two of her colleagues she developed Clever Clogs, Girlguiding North West Region’s first ever engineering challenge. It has now been taken up by over 20.000 girls all over the UK and has led to the development of ‘She Solves’ a bespoke programme for Girlguides of Singapore and BAE Systems Applied Intelligence. As a result of these projects Beth has been to Singapore, to work with their Guides, and has been presented with a number of awards for her contribution to promoting women in engineering.
Asked by Sarah Beale what they enjoyed most about the awards afternoon, Sophie Jackson, 5, and 6-year old Esther Attwood from Lyth Valley Rainbows said “the speeches which showed us what we can do when we get older”. Girlguiding Cumbria South certainly offers a lot to which they can aspire.