Friday, 13 September 2013

A chunk of my time - was it yours too?

Girl Guide Badges - Part 1
I took another memorabilia detour recently and spent some time researching the badges you see in the image on the  left, the tie resurfacing during my recent tidy-up of cupboards.

I'm also 'coming out of the woodwork' regarding my guiding career, and if you read Part 2 you'll learn why!

Writing about my Guide badges in a series of blog posts smacks of blowing my own trumpet, but the act of putting this down on social media is an attempt to share a huge chunk of what was my leisure time out of school and hopefully it sparks good memories for some people who shared similar experiences.

I'm sure there are many women of my age who remember being in the Girl Guides during the mid 1960s in the UK.

The triangular blue cloth was the tie I wore when I was a Girl Guide in Glasgow, Scotland. Sewn or pinned onto the tie are the badges I earned between 1965 and 1967, from the earliest Little House Emblem to the pinnacle of my Guiding career - My Queen's Guide Badge. 

I sewed the badges, or pinned the metal ones, onto the tie around 1972, though I do remember purposely doing it to ensure I didn't lose any of the mementoes.

During the 1960s in Glasgow, Girl Guiding had a huge membership, so I was only one of many girls who achieved Guide badges. My Guide Company was the 313th B which might give some indication of just how many people were involved at that time. I don't know, but there were probably as many A companies- each company being around 30 girls. Perhaps someone out there can tell me just what the numbers were like?

Many girls first started in a Brownie Pack and then went on to Girl Guides when they were old enough (I think around 11 -12years old). I was in the Brownies for a short time though have no evidence of what I did back then. I remember transferring to a Girl Guide Company from Brownies, but for reasons I hardly remember now, I wasn't inspired by that initial Guide Company. It was when I was almost 13 years old that I joined a different Girl Guide company, the 313th, which I loved attending and achieved what you see on the tie above. Joing at an older age meant I had to play a bit of catch-up with my peer group, but I believe I managed that.

My years in Girl Guides took up a lot of my out-of-school time, much more than the couple of hours a week attending a regular weekly meeting. Each of the badges above took many hours of reading, learning new skills, and practising whatever I was working towards. I remember being disgruntled, at times, because I was physically tired with all the activities I did (attending Girl Guides only one of them) but I loved the challenges they set me.

Guide Promise badge
Before attending the Girl Guide regular meeting, I had to ensure my uniform was top notch for the inspection. That meant ironing my cotton Guide blouse and tie. I then had to fold the tie propely and loosely knot it at the back of my neck beneath the collar, making a flat reef knot.

Spit and polish!
Before pinning on my Guide Promise Badge I had to get the Brasso out and polish it to a high shine.The one in this photo is not my first badge. The first one I had was a used badge acquired from someone else (maybe my older sister?) but by the time I was around 15, the indentation detail had worn completely flat and I bought a new one for attending the Wembley Diamond Jubillee Celebrations in London. (That event is the subject of another blog post- Girl Guides Part 3)

The shoe polish came out next and my black shoes had to gleam. My navy coloured hat and skirt were brushed free of hair and fluff, my belt was clipped (the buckle shining too) and my breast pockets checked. I can't remember exactly what went into them, but they tended to be stuffed. Again - maybe someone can remind me of that!

The image at left is not me but the uniform I wore is fairly similar. This image has been shared on Pinterest and comes originally from

My Girl Guide Proficiency Certificates
Some of the cloth badges I earned are almost self evident from the image shown on them, but I have an even better source to back up my guesses.

Along with other paper documentation, my mother kept a folder of my Girl Guide paperwork, amongst which is a wad of original certificates given at Girl Guide ceremonies. If I remember correctly, I attended Guide meetings once a week, but the certificates earned by anyone in the company were issued perhaps two or three times a year during a special ceremony.

Reading the certificates is quite enlightening. Each badge I worked for was achieved on the approval of two different testers who ensured I knew whatever it was that needed to be learned, or demonstrated, for a particular badge.

The first batch of certificates were earned in 1965  when I was around 13years old. I thought that all of my earliest badges were towards my 'Little House' emblem, though that was not the case. Checking the dates of the earliest certificates I see that Cook
was followed by Swimmer. That shouldn't be a surprise to me, since I swam regularly every week from an early age. What is interesting about the 'Swimmer' badge is that it was achieved on 19th March 1965, but for some reason I had to take a re-test on it on 27th Oct 1967. If anyone can tell me why I'd love to know!

I remember well for Needlewoman I had to use a sewing maching to make a button down blouse with full sleeves and a turned collar. My aunt had an old Singer Treadle machine which I learned on and borrowed for this activity. I may have had the option to hand sew everything, but I chose to use the machine for all except the button holes which had to be hand stitched (no fancy bit on an old treadle for that). Along with the blouse, I made a tartan skirt with set in zipper fastener, button loop, and two kick pleats. It was just as well that my aunt was a kiltmaker to trade and taught me all the sewing I needed to pass the badge!

For Homemaker or Hostess, (not sure which though I've got both badges) I had to demonstrate I could set a table properly with four place settings, using a range of cutlery for about five courses, including a fish course.

I've not yet found anything that points to the exact requirements for each of the badges, but the evidence may turn up at some future time when I can fit in more research.

Little House Emblem.
I earned my Little House badge in 1966. I think I had to have achieved around 6 badges from a selection which demonstrated  practical household skills to earn it, but the ones I associate with it are probably the following: Cook, Homemaker, Needlewoman, Hostess, Laundress, and maybe the one named Child Nurse.


Child Nurse
If I'm wrong about those, maybe someone can put me right when they see what I'm discussing in Part 2- My First Class badge and Queen's Guide badge. 

My hiker badge was only one of a number of outdoors activity badges.

Pop in tomorrow to find out about them. Alternatively, you can also check out my new Pinterest board called Girl Guide Memorabilia at 



  1. Wow, what a blast from the past! I was a Girl Guide in the 50s, and loved it. If I remember, our pockets had to contain: small notebook and pencil, clean handkerchief, safety pin, and two pennies for emergency phone call.

    1. Oh, thank you, Paula! You're right about what went into the pockets. The notebook and pencil and the pennies for the phone call strikes a bell, as do the others!

    2. Forgot something - we had to had a length of string or thin cord too (neatly whipped at each end!)

  2. I was not a Girl Scout (in the US), but I was in 4-H. My kids were in scouts and also in a group from The Salvation Army set up like the scouts. Cher'ley

  3. I was not a Girl Scout (in the US), but I was in 4-H. My kids were in scouts and also in a group from The Salvation Army set up like the scouts. Cher'ley

    1. I'm not sure what 4-H was but if you had fun. like I did at Guides, then it was a great time for you. Thanks for visiting, Cher'ley.


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