The Girl Guides Association, known today as Girlguiding UK, was created more than a century ago with the aim of having a positive influence of the lives of girls in the UK. The organisation has undergone many changes over the decades but remains true to its core – it provides a place for girls to learn about team work, self-reliance, and new skills from abseiling to survival.
Girlguiding UK is the biggest voluntary organisation in the UK for girls and young women, and the facts below span its history as well as interesting statistics.
- A year after a group of girls gate-crashed the first Boy Scouts Rally at Crystal Palace in 1909, catching the attention of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts Movement, the Girl Guides Association was formed.
- Robert Baden-Powell’s sister Agnes Baden-Powell became president of the Girl Guides.
- The junior section of the guides was created in 1914 for girls under the age of 11 and was originally called Rosebuds – a year later, the name was changed to Brownies.
- In 1916, the Senior Guide section for 14-25 year olds was created.
- The Queen became a guide in 1937 and the Queen’s Guide Award was launched in 1946, the highest award a guide can achieve.
- Robert Baden-Powell’s wife Olave became Chief Guide in 1918. Their joint birthday of 22 February became World Thinking Day from 1926; a date celebrated annually and is when Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world think about each other.
- In 1952, the Queen became joint Patron of the Girl Guides Association, alongside her mother who’d become Patron in 1937. The Queen’s sister Princess Margaret, a former Brownie, became President in 1965.
- Rainbow Guides, a section for 5-7 year olds were formed in 1987.
- The Girl Guides Association was renamed the Guide Association in 1994.
- The Guide Association was renamed Girlguiding UK in 2002, which is how the organisation is known today.
- The Countess of Wessex, Prince Edward’s wife Sophie, became President of Girlguiding UK in 2003.
- More than 50% of girls and women in the UK have been in the Guides at some point in their lives.
- 25% of girls aged 8 in the UK are in the Brownies.
- 10% of girls aged 5-7 in the UK are in the Rainbows.
- Celebrities who were former guides include Zoe Ball, Davina McCall, Cat Deeley, Emma Thompson and Gail Porter.
- Famous ambassadors include Anthea Turner and Louise Rednapp.
- The original uniform worn by the Guides was a blue skirt, stockings, jumper and neckerchief. In 1990, designer Jeff Banks enhanced the range; in 1998 jeans became part of the uniform; and in 2000 fashion designer Ally Capellino tweaked the uniform and added new items including a rugby shirt and body-warmer to the uniform range.
- Designer Ally Capellino also worked on the uniforms for Brownies and Rainbows, enhancing the original looks in 2002 and 2004 respectively.
- Guides normally meet weekly and enjoy a range of activities including party planning, outdoor pursuits, survival skills and more.
- There are four groups of guides, determined according to age: Rainbows for 5-7 year olds, Brownies for 7-10 year olds, Guides for 10-14 year olds, and Seniors for 14-25 year olds.
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