100 Years of Guiding in West Lothian

Published in Konect West Lothian editions, April 2017

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Girl Guiding in West Lothian. Linlithgow and Broxburn were the first towns in West Lothian where girls formed companies to join what in 1917 was the new Guiding organisation, soon followed by other towns.

Today there are Girl Guiding groups in most towns and villages in West Lothian. Guiding provides fun, friendship and a whole lot of other things for girls from ages 5 to 25. The organisation is structured by age group, with Rainbows for ages 5-7; Brownies for ages 7-10; Guides for ages 10-14; and a Senior Section for ages 14-25.

Emma Brash is a leader for Mid Calder Brownies and is also responsible for promoting Guiding all over West Lothian. She met with me to enthuse about the organisation that she has been involved with since she joined as a Rainbow.

“For me, Guiding is about adventure,” says Emma. “Adventure simply means doing something different, something new, that you wouldn’t otherwise do in your everyday life. For example, we recently went badger-watching with the West Lothian Country Park Rangers; our local brownies put on a play together; and we had a STEM themed pack holiday weekend where we linked in a visit to the Museum of Flight”

In their weekly sessions, the girls help decide what activities they would like to do, which includes working towards gaining badges in a range of interests, everything from art, music and reading to sports and outdoors skills. Besides this, there are opportunities for experiencing adventures out and about, and meeting up with Guides from other areas for special camps. It’s about challenges, expanding horizons, firing the imagination and pushing boundaries; as well as friendship and security. "My favourite memory from Brownies is the sleepover at the science centre, all the games we played and the parties we have," says one of the Mid Calder Brownies.

In 2017 you can’t avoid the question of “why girls only?” Emma says, “Girlguiding is a place where girls can come together and be given the chance to be heard and the chance to do what they want, without being told they can’t. All girls are welcomed in Guiding as it’s a space for them to learn, thrive and meet new people.”

Leaders are needed all over West Lothian. You don’t need to have Guiding experience in order to volunteer as a leader – everyone has different skills they can bring. All you need is an interest in working with young people and making sure the girls are enjoying what they are doing. “Being a Leader is a great experience. You learn new skills that you can transfer to your work and other areas of life,” says Emma. “It’s also like a big support group – Leaders support each other, you make great friends, and meet people from all over Scotland and further afield via the regular group camps. I have loved volunteering for Girlguiding to give a little back of what the organisation has done for me." If you are interested in becoming a Leader with any group in West Lothian, please contact westlothiangirlguiding@gmail.com or find more information at www.girlguiding.org.uk/get-involved

If your daughter is interested in joining Girl Guides, please visit the girl guiding website at www.girlguiding.org.uk/get-involved , email westlothiangirlguiding@gmail.com or check the Clubs and Classes pages of this magazine where details of the local companies are listed every month.

1st Linlithgow Guide Company was the first company registered in West Lothian, in December 1917. A group of teenagers from Linlithgow Academy, having heard about Guiding – which was at that time a relatively new movement having been set up in 1909 – were keen to have their own local company. They approached one of their teachers at the academy, who knew about Guiding as her sister was already involved in Guiding in Broxburn. She enthusiastic in her support and arranged the formation of the 1st Linlithgow Guide Company. The 1st Broxburn Guide Company was registered in Febriary 1918 although they had been meeting prior to this.

1st Linlithgow Guides

1st Linlithgow Guides

1st Broxburn Guides