Three Harpenden generations mark a century of Girl Guides

THREE generations of a local family involved in Girlguiding over a period spanning 60 years joined a massive centenary celebration in Harpenden recently.

More than 700 girls and leaders from Girlguiding Harpenden and Redbourn took part in a lantern-lit procession along the town’s High Street, followed by a fireworks display on the common to help launch the next hundred years of the UK’s largest voluntary organisation for girls and young women.

Joining them were 41-year-old Colette Eagles, of Paddock Wood, Harpenden, her daughter Georgina, 11, and 74-year-old mother Gloria Barratt.

Gloria was a guide for about five years during her youth in London, with daughter Colette following in her footsteps to become a guide for five years after joining at the age of 10 as a “hobby.”

Her daughter has recently joined the 10th Harpenden Guides. Colette said: “Georgina loves it, she went to the centenary camp in the summer and had an absolute ball.

“I suppose it is unusual that we all have had the same hobby, but it’s a nice thing to be part of. Also, it’s nice for kids to have a hobby like that rather than wandering the streets. They meet a good cross-section of other children and it’s good they get outside; the physical part is good for them, very challenging and very positive.”

She said the family enjoyed the centenary event in Harpenden, with her Mum recalling attending the Girl Guides’ 40th anniversary celebrations.

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The event, one of hundreds taking place simultaneously throughout the UK, ended with a bang as fireworks were set off accompanied by music on the common.

Operations director of Hertfordshire fireworks company Pyro 1, Martin Allen, an explorer leader for Harpenden Scouts, described the aerial display as containing special “cakes” as they are termed in firework language. These cakes were composed of 100 shots and fire in 14 seconds sending up colourful crackling bursts. They also had the digits 100 burning in firework candles.

Harpenden and Redbourn division commissioner Alison Watkins encouraged the girls to remember the evening as, “the night when you joined together with half a million other girls and leaders across the country in renewing your promise (to do their best, serve the country and help others).”

Almost half of all the women in the UK have been involved in guiding at some stage in their lives.