Guiding light Alison leaves after 34 years of service

1st Galashiels Guides, leaders and friends, gathering to celebrate Guider Alison Henry completing 34 years as a voluntary adult in the Guiding movement.
1st Galashiels Guides, leaders and friends, gathering to celebrate Guider Alison Henry completing 34 years as a voluntary adult in the Guiding movement.

Alison Henry looks back fondly at her 34 years of being a voluntary adult in the Guiding movement, but knows she leaves the ship in good hands.

Her love of the organisation goes back to when her family lived in Stirling when she was 10, and continued when they moved to Galashiels two years later.

When she turned 16, she felt she wanted to give something back to the service that gave her so much joy, so stayed on to help.

She said: “It was so rewarding, seeing a 10-year-old girl flourish and blossom in the few years, to see them progress and become more confident.

“It’s a girl’s own thing – probably the only time of their lives they are not having to compete with boys.

“Maybe I’m still a big kid at heart, but I love to see them have fun.

“Over the last 10 years, technology has sort of taken over girls’ lives and it is great to see that they don’t have to be sitting with an ipad or smartphone to have fun.”

However, guiding has not stood still, with new activities and programmes such as GoForIt four-week challenges anad a Glamorama beauty and hair challenge.

At the end of the 2015 summer term, 1st Galashiels Guides, other Leaders & friends, gathered together as Alison completed her 34 years and announced her departure.

It was an evening that she knew was going to be an emotional rollercoaster, as she had loved working with the 300 plus girls that she had nurtured over these years, but also knew it was the right time to handover to someone else.

She said: “I have a horse, which I compete on, in a fairly low key fashion, but I enjoy it. However, it does take up a fair bit of my time.

“But I felt I wanted to make sure the unit would be in safe hands.”

Taking on the reins is Emma Rae, a former Caddonfoot guide who joined up in October 2010 when guiding was celebrating its centenary.

Alison said: “She, too, wanted to give something back to guiding as she had enjoyed her time as a youngster.

“Over these past five years, I have watched her develop her skills and gaining her adult leadership and camp licence.

“And I knew that there was someone who I felt could carry on helping young girls develop.”

Over the years, Alison has been the Borders region representative on the Guiding Junior Council (Scotland), Galashiels District Commissioner & Tweed Valley County Outdoor Adviser.

She was also one of the team of County Leaders, who took Guides away to Switzerland in 2009 & 2012.

She has taken her own unit camping, to Tartan Gig pop concerts and many other various activities.

She said: “The principles of guiding over these years have not changed, only the styles of uniform and uses of modern technology.

“Girls are still as keen now, as they were when I started.They can be just themselves without any pressure.”