A guiding light in centenary celebrations

THE Girl Guide movement is celebrating its centenary – and Peebles is to the forefront.

The Tweeddale town was the first in Scotland to have a Girl Guide company and the 30 guides from the 1st Peebles unit recreated the first meeting of their guiding ancestors on Saturday. And an exhibition on guiding in the Chambers Institution opened the same day.

County commissioner Eileen Martin said: “At Girlguiding UK we seek to provide a unique, girl-only space where members feel comfortable just being themselves. Our members, challenged by a girl-led programme that extends beyond badges, enjoy a spectrum of activities, from outdoor adventure to pop concerts to community action.”

Former Peebles district commissioner Rosemary Napier said: “Guiding gives the girls opportunities they might not get, like abseiling and canoeing, and going abroad. Nothing like that happened when I was a girl unless you were a guide. There are more opportunities now, but you often have to pay for things like that and not everybody can.”

1st Peebles leader Benny Lawrie said: “It’s a space for girls only – they have got a real voice in it and it really develops the potential of the girls and young women.”

The Peebles company was founded by Lady Erskine of Venlaw Castle and the first meeting was at the castle on February 26, 1910, when three “patrols” made beds, had a “sick-nurse” talk, lit fires indoors and out, had sense training, tracked, harnessed ponies and learned to use the telephone.

On Saturday, today’s guides recreated that first meeting at Venlaw Castle when the girls made beds, learned semaphore and tracked in the snow.

The Peebles guiding district has two guide units, five brownie and two rainbow packs.

The museum exhibition includes a 100-year timeline marking key moments in guiding and world affairs, and uniforms, badges (including the domestic service, war service and Baden-Powell badges), and photographs and mementoes from guides past and present will be on display. The first life-saving medal to be awarded to any guide is also on show. It was won by one of the first Peebles guides, Nettie Borthwick, who saved a boy from drowning in Fife in 1911.

The guides are keen to record memories of previous girls’ experiences and former members are urged to call into the museum to write down their recollections.

Meanwhile, Galashiels district celebrated their Centenary World Thinking Day last Monday at Galashiels Academy when more than 100 Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, senior section and leaders attended. The theme was “One World, One Beat” and there was participation in various activities from around the world and everyone donated a tin of soup, beans or vegetables for local homeless people.

The guiding exhibition runs until April 15.