It's Guide news week
PUBLISHED: 12:13 16 March 2007 | UPDATED: 22:39 28 May 2010
MORE than 70 years ago, Gladys Harwin made her promise as a Girl Guide - and she is still actively involved in the worldwide movement which has played a huge part in her life. So when it came to putting together a history of Guiding in March, Miss Harwin
MORE than 70 years ago, Gladys Harwin made her promise as a Girl Guide - and she is still actively involved in the worldwide movement which has played a huge part in her life.
So when it came to putting together a history of Guiding in March, Miss Harwin was the perfect choice. As she says: "Once a Guide, always a Guide."
Her sister Freda has also enjoyed a long association with the Guides in the town.
Miss Harwin, of Ravenhill Drive, March, was asked to take on the project when March Museum realised an official history of Guiding in the town did not exist. With the help of log books, photographs and her own memories, she is piecing together the story from the 1920s.
She is also appealing for information which will help to complete the picture.
After enjoying herself as a Brownie, Miss Harwin joined the guides when she was 11. She went on to become an assistant and then took her warrant when she was 18.
She ran the 1st March Company for 45 years and is now a member of the Trefoil Guild, an organisation through which she can still enjoy the camaraderie of the Guiding movement.
The oldest surviving records reveal that, in 1929, a group of girls from March were so eager to become Guides they cycled to Guyhirn to join the nearest company. By the end of 1929, there was an established company in March, which was registered the following year.
Although Guiding has changed since Miss Harwin took her promise, she says it is still something she would recommend to today's youngsters.
"It makes you stand on your own two feet and look after yourself," she said. "It makes you thoughtful and able to think for yourself."
When Miss Harwin became a Guide the badges she studied for involved skills such as cooking, childcare, needlework and knotting. "Now it is things like canoeing and archery and the uniform has changed to activity wear," she said.
Guide holidays and camps continue to be popular. Miss Harwin has enjoyed many, even during the war years when the blackout meant they were unable to light fires at night!
Miss Harwin said: "I think it still has a lot of appeal for girls today - after all, there are 10 million Guides in 144 countries."
She is particularly keen to hear from those who can tell her when the various groups of Rainbows, Brownies and Guides were set up. Anyone with information, mementoes or photographs can contact Miss Harwin on 01354 655961.