Ballarat Guides in the Ballarat Times

July 15, 2023

This week, the details of our centenary celebrations were shared with readers of the Ballarat Times newspaper in an article prepared by journalist Edwina Williams.

It is indeed true that the 4th Ballarat Guide Unit reached their 100-year milestone in 2023.  However, our activity events have actually been celebrating the centenary of Guiding in Ballarat, which was achieved in 2022.

-> view the original article as published in the Ballarat Times

 


Girl Guides celebrate a century

July 15, 2023 BY Edwina Williams

 

THE leaders and members of Fourth Ballarat Girl Guides are marking one hundred years of learning, growing, fun, and friendship.

The group is the longest-running Girl Guide unit in the city, and first met at the All Saints Church of England Hall on Drummond Street.

Ballarat Girl Guides volunteer unit leader Cherie Brown said there is a strong sense of pride among the organisation’s members and leaders on reaching the significant milestone.

“It is the result of hard work, dedication, time and energy from current volunteers, as well as those who initiated the process and paved the way for such longevity,” she said.

“It serves as a testament to the ability of Guiding to adapt and remain relevant and important in the lives of youth members, while continuing to make a positive impact in the local community.

“Programs and activities have evolved to support and empower girls and young women, fostering their leadership skills, self-confidence, and resilience.”

Ms Brown has been a member for 42 years, since childhood, and three generations of her family have been involved in the movement.

“There are volunteer leaders in Ballarat who have been members for 40, 50, and even 60 years,” she said.

“That’s because Guiding goes beyond encouraging youth members to embrace challenges and imparting practical skills and knowledge.

“As we teach the girls, we also enhance our own knowledge and skillsets, and the social benefits are enjoyed by the leaders as much as they are by the girls.

“Many Guides form lifelong friendships, and the same is true for leaders.”

Throughout the year, Ballarat’s Guides can be spotted out in the community contributing to tree-planting and Clean Up Australia days, being part of Anzac Day services and marches, making toys for the Ballarat Animal Shelter, collecting glasses for the Lions Recycle for Sight program, and much more.

Bernice Deveson

The 4th Ballarat Girl Guide Company dates back to the 1920s, when girls like Bernice Burt, the mother of current member of 69 years Sandra Ballard, were first involved.

Guiding first became a part of the local community one year before the 4th Ballarat Girl Guide Company launched.

Ms Brown said while some aspects have evolved, the fundamental goals, objectives, and principles of the organisation have remained consistent.

“Traditionally, the aim was to provide girls with opportunities for personal growth, character development, and the acquisition of practical skills,” she said.

“Over time, the aims have extended to incorporate empowering girls to become confident, responsible, self-respecting, and contributing members of society, with a strong focus on discovering their potential as leaders in their world.

“The specific areas of focus have evolved to meet the changing needs and interests of the members. Personal development, outdoor activities, and community engagement have remained central to the organisation’s objectives, with new areas of focus often added to address emerging challenges and opportunities.”

In 2023, Ms Brown said Ballarat’s Guide groups have a greater focus on leadership, global awareness, diversity, inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

The group held an official 100th birthday party at the end of last month, with a special cake cut by newest local Guide, seven-year-old Imogen, and 4th Ballarat Girl Guide Company member of 69 years, Sandra Ballard.

Long-time leader Margaret Littlehales was one of the event’s organisers.

“I joined the 8th Ballarat Brownies when I was eight years old, just after my ballet teacher told me that I didn’t bend in the right places and would never become a ballerina,” Ms Littlehales said.

“There was a Guide company meeting at my church and I was fascinated by the older girls in blue uniforms doing semaphore.

“I gave it a go and it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. I enjoyed it so much that I stayed forever.”

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