Guides and Brownies in Ham since 1961 – by JB

Well I started a Guide Company in May 1961.  I had been a Guider before I got married so I was first a Guider in 1951 before I was married.  Thought I had given up when I got married, came to Ham, volunteered to do badge testing and ended up by opening a new Guide Company.  I’ve been associated with the Guide movement since 1941, 1942.  It’s always been part of my life.

I volunteered to do some home testing and as I say ended up with the Guide Company which I took down at what is now the Russell School.  Then moved the company to Ham, oh can’t remember, before St Richard’s was being built, so I registered the Guide Company here as the 3rd Ham and Petersham, and St Richards was the first Guide Company attached to the new church as it was then. And then I’ve been part of it ever since.  Gave up when I was older and still belonged to Trefoil Guild which is guiding for adults.  I moved from Guides to Brownies in Ham because having had my own daughter we were then short of Brownie packs so I moved, somebody took over my Guide Company and I took over Brownies.

And what was the typical meeting of the Brownie pack at that time?  Well there were lots and lots, more children then that joined Brownies and Guides.  Partly because I think there wasn’t as many activities for the children then as what there are now so Brownies and Guides were always full, whereas now I know they are struggling to they have just restarted Guides and they’ve got a few but not as many as we would have had in the past you always had a full company or a full pack and the waiting list but now there’s dancing, there’s horse riding, there’s gym clubs so many after school clubs so you compete whereas they didn’t have that sort of thing in those days.

Well badges – I don’t think they need cleaning now.  Um, you know they are just all automatic, they are not cleaned and you haven’t got any underneath to shoes now.  There used to be a part between the sole and the heel that was the leathery part and you had to polish it and it would be inspected to see if you had polished it.  So yes things have changed somewhat.  Some I think possibly for the better but we were always told if you didn’t clean the back you know you were just only skating over the surface if you were only doing the bits that people saw.  Stayed with me forever.


I actually took a Guide camp in the Manor House at the end of Sandy Lane.  Children thought they were going miles away, thought they were on holiday but we were just literally over the wall in Mrs McGrath’s garden so it was good, it was good.