Farewell Brown Owl and Thank You

Yesterday I heard the sad news that a family friend had died. Mrs G was my ‘Brown Owl’ during my time as a Girl Guide and I’ve got a lot of happy memories of our time together.

Growing-up as a chubby kid, I definitely lacked confidence in my own abilities. My default position was ( and sometimes still is) that if something didn’t go to plan that it was more to do with my appearance than any external factor. This was backed-up (in my head) by minor mishaps that I played over in my head, for years. A throwaway comment by a teacher about not fitting into a costume for a school play really hurt. Then there was the time that the other “big” girl in my class ‘bagged’ the only country dancing skirt with an elasticated waist and I had to try on the others, in front of my classmates knowing that they wouldn’t fasten-up. Add to this never fitting into anything from Tammy Girl properly and being called “fat” by any kid that I happened to annoy, and well, I’m sure you get the picture.

When I joined the Guides, Mrs G saw something in me and she took me under her wing. I was made a Patrol Leader when I was 11, much to the contempt of the older guides. That small amount of responsibility gave me huge amounts of confidence. When I was 12, I got the chance to travel to Europe with a ‘pack’ from Canada and it was incredible. Mrs G was on form throughout the holiday and was a force to be reckoned with! Such a strong woman. Her “girls” were number one and she made sure that we had the best. I remember her clearing a whole section of a cafe in Germany, so we could all sit together. Ushering confused-looking locals onto other tables!

Mrs G and I formed a tight allegiance. When at Guide Camp, she always looked out for me. There were secret stashes of chocolate, special treatment and always so much praise and affection. She encouraged me to actually lead and I soon took younger Guides and Brownies under my wing. I remember staying up late one night at camp, comforting a new recruit who was missing her mum. Mrs G just let me get on with it, but when everything had settled down I remember her handing me a cup of hot chocolate and saying ” what a fine young lady you are” – well, I think she said that. Mrs G had a strong, Scottish accent that she never lost, despite living in Macclesfield for years and years!

I got to 13/14 and discovered that I preferred hanging-out with my friends, obsessing over boys and Take That and I ditched the Guides. I saw Mrs G over the years and she was always so warm and caring. She remained a friend of my mum and I know that she was kept informed of all of my activities over the years.

I don’t think I ever said thank you to her but I always will be grateful. Fly high Mrs G. You will be missed.

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