Much-loved Northampton Girl Guides leader retires after 29 years

Barbara has retired from Girl Guides and Brownies in Hardingstone.
Barbara has retired from Girl Guides and Brownies in Hardingstone.

A 69-year-old Brownies leader from Northampton has retired after nearly 30 years of inspiring work.

Barbara Wedgbrow, 69, of Parklands started out as a Brownies leader in Spinney Hill back in September 1983 when her daughter came home and told her the group was in need of a new leader.

Barbara pictured (centre) with her helpers Jo Payne (left) and Sophie Humphries (right).

Barbara pictured (centre) with her helpers Jo Payne (left) and Sophie Humphries (right).

She said: "I thought I was just going along to help but ended up taking over the unit and I continued there as Brown Owl until October 1994.

"My favourite part of guiding is seeing the girls enjoying themselves.

"I loved the pack holidays we did, they were very tiring but well worth every minute organising it and seeing the girls happy."

After taking a five-year break from guiding she got back into volunteering in January 2000 as an assistant guider and opened a new unit in Wootton as the demand for places was so high.

She took up the role as Brown Owl again and after a few years she moved to the unit in Hardingstone, where she stayed until December last year.

After 29 years of service, Barbara felt it was the right time right to finish as she currently suffers from arthritis and struggles to carry out activities with the girls - but she is still district commissioner.

She added: "I will miss the girls but I have made many friends with the parents and also my lovely helpers: Imogen Scutchings who helps on occasion, Jo Payne (Snowy Owl) Sophie Humphries (Baby Owl), and without them I would not have survived this long.

"Guiding is purely voluntary and we all spend many hours organising things to make sure the girls enjoy their time in a safe environment and have interesting and fun filled evenings."

Throughout her time spent with the girls she's organised sports days, theatre days out, scavenger hunts, family trips and outings to fire and police stations.

Brownies volunteer Imogen Scutchings has been a girl guide since she was seven and continued onto rangers until she was 16 where she met Barbara and became a volunteer.

She said: "As soon as I met her she treated me as if I was part of her family, shes such an inspiration constantly giving and supporting others. I have been a helper at her unit ever since.

"Now at the age of 19 and at university I have not been able to attend so often however Barbara and the other helpers continue to welcome me back.

"She's someone I adore and I am so lucky to know, as she continues to love and support all that I do. From myself and all the girls Barbara has supported: we all love you very much and thank you for everything you have given us."

If you want to become a volunteer register here.