Brownies celebrate 100 years

Shetland Brownies are celebrating their 100th birthday this year with lots of fun activities and a display in Shetland Museum and Archives.

They are sharing this significant milestone with Brownies throughout the UK, as 2014 marks the foundation of the movement – and the popular Shetland unit is one of the oldest in the country.

This year Brownies everywhere have taken part in a range of Big Brownie Birthday events and activities, from carrying out acts of kindness to rock-climbing and rafting.

The Brownies head off on their giant conga from the Toll Clock Shopping Centre in Lerwick. Photo: Dave Donaldson
The Brownies head off on their giant conga from the Toll Clock Shopping Centre in Lerwick. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Events which brought all Shetland Brownies together have included a giant conga in Lerwick, a stay-away in Islesburgh and a Star Quest Day in Scalloway. Two Brownies also travelled to London to take part in a celebratory tea party in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

The last Shetland-wide event is a display in the Shetland Museum foyer until the end of July. Items include photos and a uniform from the early 1970s, badges and books from throughout the years, various Brownie memorabilia and Brownie registers from the 1960s. Visitors can also recite a rhyme from the Brownie story and share their Brownie memories in a commemorative book.

It was while researching the display that Girlguiding Shetland (the charity of which Brownies is part) found out the first Juvenile Guide Unit was formed in September 1914. This makes Shetland Brownies – the name Brownies was introduced in 1915 – one of the earliest units in the UK.

Shetland County Commissioner Pamela Scott said: “Our centenary celebrations have been fantastic and the girls have really enjoyed themselves. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped raise funds and make our celebratory events so special.

“We would love to hear from all Brownies, past and present, about their Brownie experiences and memories, and would encourage everyone to add comments to our book which accompanies the display. It was very exciting to find out that our Brownies are also 100, and we would like to thank Angus Johnson in the archives for his help in our research.

“It is encouraging to see that in our 100th year we are still going strong with a number of units throughout the isles. But we do need more volunteers especially in Lerwick and rural areas which do not already have a unit.

“We also have opportunities for young leaders and would love to see our Brownies progress through Girlguiding, possibly starting their own units one day – who knows one of them may even become County Commissioner. Here’s to the next 100 years.”

Girlguiding Shetland is always happy to welcome new members and has a range of volunteering opportunities, from being responsible for a unit, even setting one up, to assisting at busy weekly meetings, lending time to help with administration and accounts or one-off local sessions.

Helpers are vital as the more volunteers there are, the more girls and young women will be able to have fun, build friendships, gain valuable life skills and make a positive difference to their lives and their communities.

Cyndi Pottinger, one of the leaders in the recently formed Scalloway Brownie unit, said: “Working with the Brownies is great fun and to come into the organisation in this centenary year and experience all of the celebratory events has been fantastic.

“You get so much out of being a Brownie leader, not only helping the girls to learn new life skills and build their confidence but also developing your own skills and experience.

“As part of my training I visited Brownie units throughout Shetland, it was great to meet other leaders, make new friends and learn new activities we could do with our own Brownies.

“I have gained a lot in the short time I have been a leader and look forward to many more years. As there are so many voluntary roles on offer, I would encourage anyone to get involved at whatever level they can.”

Girlguiding also has training opportunities on the mainland and five leaders from throughout Shetland recently attended one of their activity centres in the Borders.

Verona Shaw, a leader with 1st Unst Brownies, said: “It was a great weekend for training and just-qualified Highlands and Islands leaders…a mixture of theory and principles mixed with games, crafts, international activities and talks from experienced leaders, with plenty of time for informal questions …by far the best training I have been on in a professional or private capacity.”

For more information about how to join Girlguiding go to:, or make enquiries with your local Brownie Unit.






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