You have probably heard 2014 is a very special year and it’s true there is certainly a lot to be packed into 365 days.
We have already witnessed the sporting spectacle of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the poignant 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and are now deciding whether Scotland should be an independent country or not.
Somewhere in between all those milestones and events was a very special birthday for an organisation which has been teaching generations of young girls the importance of team work and a wide variety of vital skills, allowed them to make new friends and, above all, let them enjoy themselves.
The Brownies is 100 years old this year and the concept, originally thought up by Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell, is still going strong with groups throughout the UK, all still following the Brownie Promise: “I promise that I will do my best, to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the Queen and my community, to help other people and to keep the Brownie Guide Law.”
The 7th Grangemouth Brownies, running for over 50 years, meet in the town’s Moray Primary School every Thursday from 6 – 7.30 p.m. during school terms.
Like other Brownie packs throughout the world they have been marking their organisation’s 100th year through the official Big Brownie Birthday.
The Grangemouth girls took part in various activities and events between January and the end of summer, including a special thinking day service at Bo’ness Town Hall on February 22 and a visit to Glasgow Science Centre in March.
Brownie leader Ishabel Nimmo said: “The girls were able to pick six challenges they wanted to do from a list on the BBB poster that included world challenges and local community challenges.”
One of the local community challenges involved writing to the local newspaper, which resulted in The Falkirk Herald editor Colin Hume receiving a sackload of colourful messages earlier this year.
Ishabel said: “I just told them to tell Mr Hume how wonderful it is to be a Brownie then gave them some paper and pens and said off you go and write what you want. They are a very enthusiastic bunch.”
Indeed they are and, judging by the letters they sent to The Falkirk Herald editor, they certainly do love being Brownies.
Summer wrote: “Being a Brownie is very fun.”
Elizabeth: “There is lots of games at Brownies. That’s what I like about Brownies. I also make lots of friends.”
Caitlin: “I really enjoy Brownies because I love drawing.”
Neve: “We get to do fun games and all my friends are very nice to me and I met new friends.”
Eve: “I like earning my badges and I have seven. P.S. I always buy the paper.”
Ava: “The group I am in is called the Kelpies. My buddy is Elizabeth and she helped me fit in.”
Eva: “I hope you enjoy your job Mr Hume because I enjoy Brownies it’s so fun.”
Neive: “I love being a Brownie because of the wonderful friendship here.”
Sophie: “It is fab. I will be 10 in a few months and will be sad to leave the Brownies it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
Lucy: “I love Brownies so much I would never want to leave.”
Niamh: “It is an honour to be a Brownie.”
Danielle: “It would be very nice if you could come to visit us. It is very nice here I promise and Brownies never break a promise.”
Ishabel was a Brownie with the 7th Grangemouth group herself when she was a girl and then came back to help out a few years later. When the former leader left over 20 years ago she took over and has been Brownie leader with the group ever since.
She said: “I really enjoyed my time as a Brownie so I wanted to give something back. You get a really good feeling when you see a shy seven-year-old blossom as they start to build up their confidence.
“It’s a safe place for them where they can be themselves and make good friends – probably friends they will have for the rest of their lives. A lot of them do come from Moray Primary School but there are girls here from other areas so they are able to make friends with people they might not have otherwise met. It widens their friendship circle.”
The modern Brownies take part in a lot of activities which are aimed at helping their development.
“We do a lot of crafting,” said Ishabel. “Working towards badges and keeping active – and just have fun. For me that’s the key element. The girls are learning things, but they might not realise because they are having so much fun.
“We have 24 girls in the pack at the moment and I have three assistant guiders, two of them former Brownies. They are all a great bunch.”
Some of the most popular badges the girls work towards include the Friendship to Animals badge, which promotes the good care of pets, and the Hostess badge which sees the girls serve up tea and biscuits for their parents and other guests.
Ishabel said: “Badges can relate to the girls’ hobbies so you have ones for dancing and swimming.
“As the times have changed so have the badges and we now have ones for computing.”
The 7th Grangemouth Brownies are almost full to capacity at the moment, but there are other Rainbow and Brownie packs in the Grangemouth and Falkirk area always on the lookout for more members and adult helpers.
Visit www.girlguiding scotland.org.uk, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 226 4511 for more information.
1. Brownies were first organised by Boy Scout founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell in 1914 to complete the range of age groups for girls in Scouting.
2. They were first run as the youngest group in the Guide Association by Agnes Baden-Powell, Lord Baden-Powell’s younger sister, and then his wife Lady Olave Baden-Powell took over in 1918.
3. Originally the girls were called Rosebuds because it was thought they would “blossom” into guides, but they were renamed by Lord Baden-Powell after the girls complained they did not like the name.
4. Their current name comes from the story ‘The Brownies’ by Juliana Horatia Ewing, written in 1870.
5. In the story two children, Tommy and Betty, learn they can be helpful Brownies or lazy boggarts.
6. Brownies are the middle tier of the Girl Guide structure which moves from Rainbows for ages five to seven, Brownies for ages seven to 10 and Guides for ages 10 and up.
7. Brownie packs are often subdivided into different groups of girls with names like Elf, Fairy, Imp, Pixie, Sprite and, yes, even Kelpie.