Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, World Chief Guide, died thirty-six years ago. Ten years later Betty Clay, her daughter, and Patience Baden-Powell, her granddaughter-in-law, through an article in The Guider magazine, invited readers to send in their memories of the Chief Guide.
They wrote in The Guider:-
Everyone who knew Olave Baden-Powell would have a different story to tell, but if all the stories were gathered together, we would find certain threads which ran through them all, the characteristics which made her beloved
Here are a few of the remembrances that people have of her, and if these spark off similar memories for you, will you please tell us?
The collection was then sent to Ellen Clark, Director, The World Bureau, in July 1988, but what happened to it then is not known. That was twenty-five years ago. The collection below was among the "papers" left by Olave's daughter Betty Clay; the stories are in alphabetical order of the surnames of the authors. Have tissues ready.
Andrews, Mrs. (Skipper)
Bain, Mrs. Ethne
Beer, Miss. Winnie
Bickerton, Mrs. Brenda
Bindloss, Miss M.E.
Brown, Mrs. Christine
Burden, Mrs. Joy
Coffey, Mr. Jack
Currell, Miss Pat. J.
Fay, Mrs. Sylvia
Hoblyn, Molly nee Irwin
Lynne Mrs William N. (Edith)
LouisAnne, Princess, Grafin von Galen
Manasseh, Mrs. Elspeth
Mathews, Miss R.A.
Nordquist, Mrs. Mary
Petley, Miss Betty
Picton, Mrs. Jo
Rudge, Miss Dorothy
Rudkin, Miss Barbara
Stubbs, Mrs Madge
Tatton-Brown, Miss Syliva
Thomas, Mrs Margaret
Verdon-Smith (nee Jackson-Bartsow), Lady
Warren, Mrs. Edith
Andrews, Mrs. (Skipper)
44 Rimu St. Wanganui, NEW ZEALAND, 1971
In 1948 the Chief Guide came to New Zealand, and there was a rally, with all the Guides in neat rows, very orderly, but it was a hot day, and the Chief Guide saw that they were feeling the effect of the sun, so she said "I have a reputation, that when you have everything nicely arranged, the Chief Guide comes along and upsets everything, and I'm going to do that now: let's all go and sit in the shade over there." You can imagine the chaos, till everyone laughingly rushed to the shade and settled down comfortably to listen to her talk.
In 1969 I was in London visiting, and went with a partially-deaf friend to the British A.G.M.. The Chief Guide insisted "Sit next to someone you DON' T know" and though I protested I was helping my deaf friend, she didn't hear my protests and insisted I should get to know someone new!
Bain, Mrs. Ethne
3 West Riding Rd., Hillcrest, Natal 3610, South Africa
(1941, Kenya, & 1963, & 1970 The Visit.), with lots more,
and a separate 6-page Life of Lady B-P, all sent on to World Bureau, March 1989
When I was a newly-qualified teacher and warranted Brownie Guider in Kenya in 1941, our Colony Commissioner – Lady Baden-Powell – paid a visit to the Kitale Brownie Pack. Due to an epidemic of mumps, the school closed early and Lady B-P was not able to see the children, but she took the trouble to find me and had a chat across the driveway (quarantine distance) for a short time. A year later at a big Guide Rally at Government House in Niarobi, the Guides and Brownies were on parade, and after inspection Lady B-P greeted us all individually, and without hesitation recognized me as the Guider who had mumps at Kitale. Each time we met in the future, she joked about the mumps.
My next encounter was some 20 years later, on a return visit to Kenya, in 1963, with my husband, our Guide daughter D. and our Scout son P. We stayed at the Outspan Hotel at Nyeri where the B-Ps had their second home Paxtu. We soon discovered that Lady B-P was at home, but the Hotel staff were much against us disturbing their distinguished resident. However, we knew that if she knew that a South African Scout/Guide family were at hand she would hastily call us in. A note was written – “A S.A. Scout, Guide and Guider greet you.” Diana followed the messenger to her bungalow but waited a short distance away. As lady B-P took the note she glanced up and saw our daughter. We, of course, were not far behind. Immediately she waved and beckoned us to come, and for half-an-hour we chatted and were shown round the bungalow, still cherished and cared for as it had been in 1940-41.
It was easy to understand her great longing to keep returning to this beautiful peaceful place, facing the magnificent peaks of Mount Kenya with such special memories of the last four years of B-P’s life. Form her little trinket-box, Lady B-P gave me a Wordl Badge as a memento of this visit which unfortunately was lost in London some years later. Before leaving Nyeri we visite the beautiful cedar-wood Church and B-P’s grave facing his beloved mountain.
My most valued association with Lady B-P was the privilege and honour of leading the organization for the last week of her Visit in March 1970. Each function had lighter side and sometimes humorous disruption by our guest of honour. The magnificent Cavalcade held at King’s Park, PieterMaritzBurg deviated from schedule at the end when Lady B-P called the Guides and Brownies of all race groups to come off the stand to her side; they were too far away. A surge of young humanity made for the small platform in the centre of the field where she stood with one Commissioner, a Guide and three Guiders. Without hesitation, Gervas Clay (her son-in-law) leapt down from the grandstand two steps at a time and just made Lady B-P’s side before the avalanche of children knocked her over. Anxious Guide officials wondered how they were going to get rid of them all again. The Chief Guide said to them, “When I say SHOO, go back to your places, you will disappear.” Lo, and behold, when she said “SHOO, GO back!” they all turned round and went back. You could hear the Guiders’ sighs of relief.
Beer, Miss. Winnie
83 Devonshire Ave, Southsea, Hants.
In 1962 Lady B-P came to a Rally at Portsmouth, which was to be held at the Parade Ground of the Royal Naval Barracks, and in the huge drillhall if it was wet. We lined up on the Parade Ground and Lady B-P drove in a jeep up and down the lines. Then it was the Brownie Trot Past: the R.M. Band played the Keel Row which I had suggested as a suitable tune, but they played it hundreds of times as 1,500 Brownies trotted round, and Lady B-P asked if the same children were going round again and again. By this time it was raining, so we all filed into the drillhall, and the Chief addressed the crowd, the rain left off, we had the parade of floats illustrating the chief events in the history of Portsmouth, rained again, back into the drillhall for tea, rain stopped in time for the singsong outside.
Four years later, my friends and I met Lady B-P at Foxlease, and we gave our names and said we were from Portsmouth. Quick as a flash: "OH, the In-and-Out-Rally:" and whenever she met a Portsmouth Guider she always remembered the In-and-out Rally
Bickerton, Mrs. Brenda
The Spinny, Hardington Moor, Yeovil, Somerset.
I was a Sea Ranger in Middlesex in the 1950's, and the Chief Guide came to a Rally, we were wearing white shirts then, with Long sleeves, which we were wearing pulled down, and the Chief told us "you should roll your sleeves up, how can you work properly with your sleeves down like that? they will get wet and messy:" Many years later, a party of us went to the Thinking Day Service in Westminster Abbey, and we went across the Bridge afterwards, and were leaning over the bridge watching the boats, and suddenly, THERE was the Chief, walking across towards Waterloo station. She stopped and talked to us, and seemed to know that she had met some of us before, her manner to us was so warm and familiar.
Bindloss, Miss M.E.
Summerhill Cottage, Manaton, Newton Abbot, Devon.
As a District Commissioner in Newton Abbot before the Second World War, I met the Chief on one of her visits to Devon.
Some years later, during the war, I was in Ely, nursing with the RAF.
On off-duty evenings I helped with a Brownie Pack, not in Guide uniform but in my VAD uniform, and one evening the Chief visited the Pack, and going round the ring she came to me.
She looked hard at me, and said "I know you - now don't tell me - let me think- - yes, I know, it was in Devon!"
Brown, Mrs. Christine
29a Trewartha Park, Weston-super-Mare.
In 1936 I was a Guide in Kent when our Company attended a County Rally at Knole Park, Sevenoaks.
Excitement filled the air as the Chief Guide approached us, and I jumped on to a log to have a better view of her. I missed my footing and fell backwards into a bed of nettles!
My misfortune had great compensations as she saw what had happened and immediately showed her concern by asking me if I was all right - that "made my day" and nothing else mattered as she had spoken to me personally.
A year or so later, as a Ranger in Somerset, I was in a Guard of Honour to welcome the Chief Guide to Taunton. To my amazement as she approached she caught my eye, stopped, and exclaimed "Surely you are the Guide who fell in the nettles in Kent!" and this led to a friendly never-to-be-forgotten chat.
This personal incident is typical of the impression that Lady Baden-Powell must have left all over the world, as she spread a wonderful example for Guiding through her own concern for individuals, and her approach to life in general.
Burden, Mrs. Joy
The Dower House, Kingweston, Somerton, Somerset.
I admired Lady Baden-Powell greatly. The earliest impression was of seeing Her and her husband at the Hare & Hounds Hotel at Westonbirt, when their daughter Betty and I were at school there together; then again in 1937 Lady B-P came to Bath. I was a very young Guide captain and took our Kingweston Guides there, and clearly remember her animation and warmth. The children were murmuring "Coo, isn't she lovely?" Lady Hobhouse chaired the rally, and I think the B-P's Silver Wedding was mentioned.
Coffey, Mr. Jack
Scout Fellowship, Bridgwater, Somerset. 1981.
Sometime in the 1960's my wife and I were visiting Hampton Court Palace, we came to the wide wooden steps leading up to Lady B-P's apartment, and there was a party of American Girl Scouts sitting on the steps with the Chief Guide speaking to them from the top. When she had finished, we went up after the girls had gone, and she spoke to us and. shook hands, and said "come in and have tea", which we gladly did. She showed us round the apartment, and the paintings done by her husband, and at the end, we asked if she would give us her autograph. "I don't do autographs" she replied - and gave us a signed photo instead!
Currell, Miss Pat. J.
33 Penine Way, Biddulph, Staffs.
1st Branhall Guides, Cheshire
1st Essex Lones
1st Kuypersley, Staffs
SRS Maori, Bramhall
In 1946 I was a First Class Guide in a Guard of Honour outside Stockport Town Hall when the Chief Guide came to visit us. Some years later I met her at Stafford where she was guest speaker at the County AGM. She missed the luncheon owing to the train being very late, but she insisted on only having a snack and then shaking everyone by the hand before we moved to the meeting hall. After the general business had been dealt with she was introduced by Lady Harrowby the County President, but before embarking on her talkLady B-P removed everyone from the platform (Commissioners, President, etc.) and made them sit in the body of the hall with the rest of us! Her talk, as always, was enthralling – and much of the time, hilarious.
I next met Lady B-P at a gathering of Staffordshire Guiders at the Blessed William Howard Schoo in Stafford. She entertained us with many tales of her travels abroad and again found time to shake us all by the hand and talk to everyone. I was amazed when she said she had met me before and wanted to know when and where!
I last saw her at Southwark Cathedral a few years later.
I have never ceased to admire her for setting us all such a shining example. If there were more “Guiding Lights” in the world today, like her, we should have a very peaceful world. She was truly a very great Lady.
Fay, Mrs. Sylvia
19 Barley Croft, Foxes Hey, Boughton Heath, Cheshire, CH3 5SP. March, 1990
When my daughter Judith had just been enrolled as a Brownie she was taken to a large gathering at The Oval, Bebington, Lady Baden-Powell was the chief guest. There were several children there in wheelchairs and the Chief went over to talk to them. Judith suddenly started to cry, and when asked why, said that she wanted to have "poorly legs" and be in a wheelchair. When asked the reason for this she said that those children were "being touched by that lady and I do SO want her to touch me". Even at that age she had felt the magic of our beloved Lady B-P.
I was at the Glenbrook Opening when Lady B-P came along through the guard of honour. She turned her head, recognised the lady next to me and came over. Saying "hello" she called her by name and shook her hand saying how lovely it was to see her again. After she had gone on the lady next to me gasped and said "I don't believe it!” She then went on to tell me that she had met Lady B-P TEN YEARS earlier and then only briefly. It was astounding that she had remembered her name after all this time, amid the hundreds of people worldwide that she had met meanwhile.
Hampshire and Malaya.
In Malaya, must have been about 1962, OBP was staying with us and the King and Queen of Malaya were coming to dine with us. As the time drew near for their arrival, there was no sign of 0BP, we were all ready, dressed in evening dress, and there was no sound from her room, so I knocked. A cheerful voice called "Come in!" and there she was, lying on the bed in full evening dress plus shoes and plus eye–shades "just having ten minutes sleep! I always like to be ready so that there is time for that:"
I was a young Guider when she came to our County in 1928 and we were all sitting on the floor to be near her and she shook hands with all of us. In later years in Somerset I met her several times when she visited there.
Then MANY year later I was in Leicestershire and she came to a big Guide event; as I came to meet her, someone introduced me to her, and she took my hand and said "Oh, but I KNOW Miss Herrington” and I thought it was wonderful that she should remember me with all the people she must have met since our last meeting.
Hoblyn, Molly nee Irwin
ex—County Commissioner; Dorset & Hyderabad India.
I escorted her quite a lot during her visit to India in 1936, especially at Hyderabad, and I didn't meet her again until I lived in Dorset and she came to open Brownsea Island, in 1963.
When I was introduced, she looked at me as if she thought she ought to know me, so I said "I was Molly Irwin". "Of course!" replied, "How is Hyderabad, have you heard from them lately?"
My brother Nicholas Legh was at Brownsea Island, and was a Sea Scout, but he did not continue in Scouting as a grown-up.
I met the Chief Guide in New Delhi, India, in 1937. I met her again in 1963 at Marton, Cleveland, and she said "I know you, we've met before " - "Yes, in Delhi" - "oh yes, was it New Delhi or OLD Delhi?"
I attended several functions with her during that visit, and in Middlesborough she made four different speeches to four different audiences.
I went to a Trefoil Guild Conference at Swanwick, (about 1958,) and as I came into the dining-room for supper the first evening, someone said "Come and sit next to me", but I replied "no thank you, I'm sitting next to my friend over there" - then realised with horror that it was the Chief Guide and I hadn't recognised her! What a chance missed!"
LouisAnne, Princess, Grafin von Galen
Flandernstrasse 76, D 400 Munster, West Germany (1966)
Formerly Chief Guide of Liechtenstein, aunt of the present (1988) Prince of Liechtenstein.
Lady Baden-Powell surely deserves being not forgotten in the world of Guiding. Her whole life was devoted to keeping alive all over the world the ideas of Lord Baden-Powell and so she helped to form thousands of young people. One thing I will never forget: at her visit in Liechtenstein in July 1966. The Guides had gathered in a big gymnastic hall, and after the greeting and some performance of the children, Lady B-P addressed them in her warm and simple way and one felt how the children were taking in every word of her. I was translating sentence by sentence and something of that speech remained in my memory as it is a basic suggestion to anybody who wants to help.
She said, “You all have three H’s: Hands, Head, and Heart, and all these three H’s are viatl if you want to help, as Guides are promising and are supposed to do. If you only help with your hands it might not be very efficient; you have to use your head to make your help efficient. But don’t forget to let your heart speak. Only when the three H’s have joined, in your action, you help will be not only efficient but warming for the person you want to help.”
These few sentences, accompanied with simple gestures with their hands, to their heads, to their hearts, are unforgettable to me. They express the attitude one should have in life, the three H’s together make an accomplished personality.
With these, and other memories you will receive from others, the CG deserves not to be forgotten!
Lynne, Mrs. William N. (Edith)
215 West Glenwood Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.A. 37917
How I met Lady Baden-Powell!
I had corresponded with “Lady B-P” for quite some time before I met her. I had written concerning two photographs of her and Lord B-P which I wished autographed – and very cordially she replied.
In 1952, Oak Ridge, a small T.V.A. city close to Knoxville, booked her for a speech (was asleep!) I chartered a bus and took my whole Troop of 32 girls and two assistants to Oak Ridge to hear her. It was a Friday night, and at the end of her speech when I met her I asked her where she was spending the weekend - 31st March to 2nd April (she was booked for Chattanooga on Monday) and she said “I really don’t know.” So I immediately asked her to go home with me and I would drive her to Chattanooga on Monday. She accepted my invitation and she and Bridget Ramsden (her secretary) came home with me. (I sent my Troop back with the two assistants).
I drove her and Bridget to Chattanooga the following Monday – stopping on the way to eat a lunch out of a basket. In those days cars did not run as fast as they do now. I had a hard time getting her away from two boys who were “gigging” for frogs in a nearby stream! But landed her safely, bag and baggage.
And thus began a warm and sincere friendship which lasted through the years. I think it was because we liked the same things and disliked the same things – and we were both devoted to Scouting and Guiding!
Manasseh, Mrs. Elspeth
Thorpe Park, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex CO16 0HN. (1970)
County President, Essex North-East
and ex-County Commissionar Essex.
On the 14 June 1970 the Chief Guide visited Essex East, and I was asked to accompany her back to London as the family did not wish her to travel alone, but I was not to let Lady B-P know that this had been arranged. At Colchester station we met, and she recognised me and asked where I was going, saying what fun and we could travel together. She asked "why aren't you wearing a World Badge?" and rummaged in her bag, produced a badge and told me I should wear it at all times. Just then a young man passed, and said "Excuse me, are you Lady Baden-Powell?" and told her he had met the Chief Scout, whereupon she said "I know you, you are so-and-so" and he was even more surprised than I was.
On arrival in London I thought I would leave her, but not a bit of it, I was "commanded" to accompany her; she lamented the changed face of Harvey Nichols and showed me the steps where she was first seen by the Chief Scout. At Olave House she was given a wonderful reception as she surprised the young people sitting in the garden. Once more I prepared to take my leave.
Not so. I found myself on the way to Hampton Court, and now I must admit that I was really enjoying myself and wondering what would happen next: At Hampton Court we said goodbye to the charming car-driver and I carried Lady B-P's standard, it seemed for miles, finally climbing the wide staircase to her flat, where we had a lovely cold chicken salad.
She showed me the flat, and then asked if I knew how to get one's own breakfast in bed, and showed me the drill. You fold the eiderdown in three at the foot of the bed and place the bed-table upon it. Go to the kitchen and put everything on the tray. Return to the bed and put the tray on the bed-table. Carefully get into bed. Pull up the eiderdown and "Hey Presto"
breakfast in bed!
I was told to go and look at the garden, and when I returned Lady B-P was rested and changed into a charming floral frock. We had tea and I said goodbye. Alas I never saw her
again - but I don't believe she was fooled into thinking my journey to London was a coincidence!
Mathews, Miss R.A.
26 Cavendish Rd., London, SWI2 0DG Typed & sent 7.88.
The Chief Guide noticed everything and never forgot a face. I saw her first at a rally in 1957, when I was cold, tired, and alone. Suddenly the Chief appeared at a distance with the County Commissioner. I stood quietly to attention while she passed, but she made a sudden dive towards me with her left hand outstretched. I switched over my handbag and to my horror it opened its contents onto the ground. The bystanders (and the Chief) helped to pick up everything and refill my bag, but my feelings of shame can be imagined! Nevertheless, the County Commissioner gave an understanding smile so all was well. The Chief said "You're in the Trefoil Guild?" - "Yes, Madam, from Sussex" where I knew she had been County Commissioner
Years later, I was properly introduced to her at a Conference, and she said "I've met you before, haven't I?" ...
Nordquist, Mrs. Mary
2072 Hatch Road, California 94947, U.S.A. (Feb. 1986)
Brought up in Britain; Brownie and Guide in Bromley, Kent, then Sea Ranger in Winchester; 1962 went to Bermuda to teach, “Mate” in the Sea Ranger ship “Deliverance”. Thence to the U.S.A.
As a Sea Ranger, I attended the Hampshire Coronation Camp held in the grounds of Broadlands, Romsey, the home of Lord Mountbatten. There we met the Chief Guide. The Ranger Camp was called “Heaven”, and to enter the gates one was given wings and a halo. Lady B-P went through the initiation ceremony, reveived her wings and halo before she greeted each one of us with a handshake and comment.
In 1963 I was lucky enough to meet the Chief Guide again in Bermuda; she made a special visit to the Sea Rangers to present us with Admiralty Recognition. In her talk to us she said, “I always wanted to be a nurse and serve people in some way, but was told it was not a suitable occupation. The door was really opened to me when I met and married Robert Baden-Powell. YOU are on the inside of that door, opened to you when you joined the Movement. It is the door of friendship, new ways and new activities which are useful to yoi for the rest of your lives. As Rangers, you set an example to the Guides and Brownies, even though you belong to the smallest branch of the Movement.”
Guiding opened doors for me. I visited Our Chalet and Our Cabana, and through Guiding met my husband in Bermuda. In Virginia, U.S.A., I made Girl Scouting friends who introduced me to new ways and activities in the country to be my home.
Petley, Miss Betty
4 Stretton Court, Bournemouth Rd., Parkstone, Dorset, BH14 0EX
Most of my nursing career was in either Somerset or Dorset…
During my training at Taunton I spent my off-duty with a friend at Bishop’s Lydeard, and was asked one memorable Saturday if I could help with a Guide Company, as the Guider had gone sick the evening before a special assembly at Bishop Fox’s School grounds to meet the Chief Guide, following her tour abroad in 1944 or 45.
I was delighted to assist but had no uniform with me, but I was soon lent some – with a Somerset County badge.
The CG spoke to so many lined up for this special occasion, and when she stopped in front of me I was so thrilled with her smile. Touching my shoulder, she said “Your County Motto?” - “Who’s a-feared” I quickly responded, then realized I was not back home in Dorset wearing my own uniform. Explanations were made, and I shall never forget the twinkling eyes, nor the response that was made by Miss Evelyn Pontifex (our Commissioner) when she heard of this episode….
Picton, Mrs. Jo
8 Cypress Ave. Thornton, Cape, 7460, South Africa.
My husband and I visited her once in Hampton Court, and there she learned that Lewis was interested in stamps, and gave him some which had been sent to her. In 1970 we met her in Cape Town, and as soon as she saw me she said "Does your husband still collect stamps?" which I thought was really remarkable.
Rudge, Miss Dorothy
100 Chapter Rd,, London NW2 5LR.
Willesden Division Trefoil Guild.
I became a Guide in Middlesex County in 1924 and from then on led a very active life in the Guide Movement ... and worked with blind people. During the period I worked in the Publications Dept. at CHQ I saw the Chief Guide on a number of occasions, and I have never ceased to marvel at her wonderful memory despite the many thousands of people she met. In May 196 she came to Middlesex East's County Rally at Alexandra Palace when to my complete amazement I heard my name called during the presentation of awards and the Chief hung around my neck the Oak Leaf.... I thank God for Guiding and the great and enduring contributions Lady Baden-Powell made to girls all over the world and I hope her work will never be forgotten. She was a real Guiding Star and a very great lady.
Rudkin, Miss Barbara
4B Morley Rd., Boscombe E., Bournemouth
I met the Chief Guide three times:
First when Dudsbury Camp Ground was opened, I was going along the drive with my Patrol Leader, and a big car came along, and I said, “Is that the Chief Guide?” and a voice from behind us, “Oh, yes, here I am!” and there she was, walking, which surprised us.
During the War, I was in the Underground in London, and the Chief Guide came down with three Guiders. I had mislaid my purse, and she waited to help me look for it until I found it, although the Guiders tried to hurry her up.
At the end of the War, when we were at a Victory Rally in Surrey, a Brownie fell off a log and had to be taken to hospital. We were carrying her down the path and the Chief saw what was happening, and waited until we came back, so that we could meet her.
as related by Miss Dorothy Hadingham, South Nutfield, Surrey, in "The Trefoil".
1985, Saturday 4th May was the day of a party with a difference: it was for those who had been enrolled as Guides before 1925, and this included three who had attended the 1924 World Camp at Foxlease. Mrs. Florence Smith had come from China as a young Guider, and when she arrived feeling a little lost a kind Guider took her to find her group. She was surprised that everyone saluted and jumped to attention as they passed and arriving at her site and thanking the kind Guider she asked "Who was that?" to be told "That's Lady Baden-Powell!"
1957 - County A.G.M. at Stafford. During tea I was standing by the tearoom door; a liveried chauffeur beckoned "Will you please remind Madam it is 4 p.m. and I have the Rolls waiting at the front entrance." Being a young Commissioner I felt certain it was for the Chief Guide so I edged my way to her side and whispered that her car was waiting. Looking perplexed she said "My car?" I said "yes, the chauffeur has the Rolls waiting by the front entrance." The Chief Guide was very amused and laughingly said "Oh, my dear, then it certainly isn't for me, I don't possess a. Rolls or a chauffeur - a Guider is taking me to catch the train:" I was disappointed to find the Rolls was for Lady Cadbury, I thought it really ought to have been for the Chief Guide.
Stevenson, Miss Marjorie
Holme Bank, Cartmel, Grange over Sands, Cumbria.
At Waddow Ruby Jubilee Rally for Guides in 1967, we were told that if the Chief approached us on the terrace we were to say our County and our names,
Lily Crowther and myself were fortunate, she came to us with hands outstretched, and we said "Cheshire - Marjorie Stevenson and Lily Crowther" so she said to Lily "you were counting out Brownies for that wonderful runpast at Bebington, where all the Brownies' macs fell off the bobbing backs as they ran!"
Then she turned to me and said "you haven't always been in Cheshire, have you? would it be ... Northumberland?" So I said "yes, but we met in Yorkshire!" and she remembered that I had been at her table at Butlin's Camp at the big N.E. Rally weekend in 1948 or 49, and indeed I was, and was very thrilled to have been at her table for breakfast.
Stubbs, Mrs Madge
28 Mountfield Road Taunton, Somerset.
(sent by her to The Trefoil Guild, Oct.1988)
I was privileged to be at Our Chalet for the 30th birthday celebrations in August 1962. Lady Baden-Powell and one of her grand-daughters spent several days with us and were housed in the Baby Chalet.
On the Sunday, the whole village were invited and joined in games, dancing, singing and, of course, the inevitable buffet. The Chief, seeing three Venture Scouts, standing alone, gathered up three of my Guides, took them over to the three scouts, introduced them to each other and left them, with the admonition, “Now get to know each other" with that twinkle in her eye.
The following day, while at the top of Schwandfeltdspitz (the mountain behind Adelboden), we were partaking of the famous "Chalet" sandwiches at the cafe, when the Chief Guide with two of the Chalet staff arrived. As she approached we stood up but immediately she waved her arms, "do sit down again or I shall not come and talk to you". Needless to say, we obeyed and enjoyed so much the chatting that followed.
Several years later she came to Taunton and addressed a packed audience of Brownies, Guides, Rangers, and Guiders at Bishop Fox School. Later she was introduced to the Guiders; when my turn came she asked if we had met before and when 1 replied, "Yes, the last time was at our Chalet in 1962; she began to recall what a wonderful time it had been. She was however brought back to the present by her daughter (Mrs. Betty Clay) who gently reminded her that there were still a number of Guiders for her to meet.
I am glad I did not have to arrange one of her official visits for it must have been almost impossible to keep to a strict timetable, she would so often deviate from the chosen route and stop to chat informally.
What a wonderful personality she had and so privileged were we who had the opportunity to meet her.
Tatton-Brown, Miss Syliva
Caradoc, Llaistwardine, Craven Arms, Salop SY7 0LL. Nov. 1980.
An Episode in the life of the Chief Guide, Dame Olave Baden-Powell
Scene. A Girl Guide Rally in Blenheim Park, Oxfordshire, 1952
The County Commissioner is introducing invited Guests who are not in uniform
County Commissioner "This is Mrs ABC who has just arrived from the West Indies"
Chief Guide: "Lovely to see you again. You are lunching with me tomorrow."
C.C. "You won't know Mrs Willis, one of our Mice Presidents"
Chief "But of course I remember Mrs Willis : Calcutta 1928"
C.C. "This is Miss Tatton-Brown"
Chief "Where have we met before?"
Miss Tatton-Brown "At the World Conference in 1950, in Sussex, but originally in Egypt. You have just been seeing
my friend the Chief Commissioner for the International Guides in Egypt, how is she?"
Chief "Of course, we were in Athens together. You know she has just lost her Mother?"
Naturally I knew she had lost her Mother, she was Beryl Baker, a friend of mine, but that the Chief, with literally thousands of commissioner friends, should remember and show concern. Also in 5 minutes she had spanned Guiding in four continents.
Thomas, Mrs Margaret
115 Highgate Lane, Farnborough, Hants.
5th July 1970. Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, Rushmoor Arena, Aldershot.
The Chief lunched with Mrs. Mary Hammond, County Commissioner, and others, then attended the Celebrations. Having met many Guiders, and spoken to the Guides, by teatime she x;4 3 rather tired and many people were still anxious to see her. Tea was ready, and I was asked to get some for the Chief and make sure no one slipped in the back way. As I arrived with the tea, dear Mrs. Wade said "put two good spoonfuls of sugar in & stir it well, then see the Chief sits down." She did, and seemed to revive.
Verdon-Smith (nee Jackson-Bartsow), Lady
Lady Baden-Powell came and stayed with my parents when I was a girL, at Weston-super-Mare and during lunch, I passed the gravy-boat to her, but instead of putting a gravy-ladle in it, I put a sugar-sifter. Of course the mess was appalling, and my father was furious with me, thinking I had done it on purpose because I was always playing practical jokes on people, but this time I had NOT intended to do it, so the punishment I received was all the more terrible, because I admired Lady B-P greatly!
My sisters and 1 were a11 mad-keen Guides, and of course became Guiders; we dressed up in all sorts of strange garb, and had cock’s feathers in our hats. I went to a Conference at
Swanwick, and I think I was the only Guider there who kept fowls, so I got feathers for Lady B-P’s hat - but I don't think that she used them!
During that Conference someone commented about Lady B-P: "She’s so NERVOUS, she’ll never be a good speaker" !! I’ve heard her many times since then, and thought, "How wrong that person was!" I think she’s a marvelous speaker, and I’ve never met a woman with such a memory.
I was visiting Hampton Court with some friends, and we got soaking wet in the rain. The CG met us, and welcomed us into her Apartment and "dried us out” and entertained us, as we had 2 hours to wait for our return-boat-trip down the Thames to London.
I had just been to Bermuda and had seen her friend Marjorie Hallett,
and it was marvelous having this chance to chat with her in her own home,
Warren, Mrs. Edith
21 Park Crescent, Emsworth, Hampshire. PO10 7NT.
The World Conference was held in Oxford in 1950, and the Chief Guide was entertaining overseas delegates at her home at Hampton Court Palace, so I, as local District Commissioner, arranged a Guard of honour of Guides to greet them; shortly afterwards, she entertained several of us to tea on her roof-garden, and showed us round her apartment with all the mementoes of the Founder. It was a truly memorable occasion for me, but of course I was one in many thousands she had met!
However, in 1962, we were in Washington, U.S.A., and when the Girl Scouts were celebrating their Golden Jubilee, the Chief Guide attended a big occasion in Constitution Hall. As a member of an "International Patrol" I was invited backstage with others to shake hands with Lady Baden-Powell, and to my surprise she said "I KNOW you! - let me think - it was at Hampton Court wasn't it?" A truly marvellous memory:
Lady B-P was fond of relating this story:-
She was staying at the Guide Training Centre at Waddow Hall (http://www.waddow.org.uk) for some event. Alas! She took a tumble while coming down the stairs and broke several ribs. The Secretary came rushing out of her office, “OH! Thank heavens it’s only you! I was afraid it was our new Hoover!”
These stories are now twenty-five years old. There are still people around who remember Olave Baden-Powell, and will have “stories to tell” like these. If you have such a memorable incident, please let us know, so that we can add it to this collective tribute to a remarkable woman. Click on the "Contact Us" Menu Tab on the left.
Copy of a letter received anonymously from a parent after an event. O.B-P was 81:-
16th March, 1970.
The Girl Guides Association,
I am a Parent, one of many who received an invitation to attend the Guide and Brownie Rally in Pietermaritzburg yesterday in honour of Lady Baden-Powell.
It was a wonderful experience: Throughout the whole time of the Rally I was carried away by the force of 'belonging to a Family' which existed there.
My regret is that we Parents were unable to express a 'Thank you' for it all, with a special 'Thank you' to Lady Baden-Powell herself for showing so memorably the power of the inspiration behind Guiding, and Scouting of course.
Please, if you can, convey to this outstanding person, Lady Baden-Powell, heartfelt thanks and gratitude for giving Parents the chance yesterday to see for ourselves the real Spirit behind it all, and to join in the admiration expressed by the Speakers, for her.
An Ordinary Parent
'Judy, meet Mum' was my introduction to the Chief Guide. A far cry from the ceremony which surrounded my earlier introduction some years before when, as a leader of the South Lancashire contingent to B.-P. 62 International Senior Gathering, I was formally introduced to Lady B.-P.
Now, several years later, the meeting was different - very different. To set the scene - I had answered an advertisement for ranger helpers to assist at a camp for physically handicapped guides at Woodlarks, a specially equipped site in Surrey, England.
At tea on the first evening we were told that one of our fellow helpers was rather special. “Look for the Chief’s eyes” was the clue, and the answer was Betty Clay, youngest of the Baden-Powell children, on vacation from her home in Northern Rhodesia and anxious to do her share along with the rest of us.
On our excursion to Hampton Court Palace, Betty took us to see her mother's Grace and Favour apartment and, as we arrived, the door flew open and out sprang her Mum. “Can't stop to invite you and your friend in, Betty”, she said, “got to get on with the garden”. Here was the lady who was mum, grandmum, friend, adviser, World Chief Guide - as she loved to be - covered in soil, old tattered sun hat on head, garden-coloured clothes and muddy shoes.
This was the lady held in awe by every brownie, wonder by every guide and admiration by every leader - the lady every enrolled member longed to meet - fixing up the garden and loving every minute of it. We chatted about the camp and about the difficulties, the frustrations and the joys experienced by our handicapped friends and she understood and felt for each and every one. Then she was back to the garden with a flourish, anxious to catch every minute of daylight.
A lady of many talents, many interests, many commitments yet always having time for people, individuals like me who, as a small brownie, made her a Thinking Day card every year and, without fail, received a personal handwritten reply. A wonderful person, a shining light sent to inspire everyone in the great Guiding movement. That light, surely, has passed on to every member of our World Sisterhood.
Judy Perrin, New South Wales, Guiding in Australia July 1989
Extracts from a talk given at the Commissioner's Conference, South Australia, August 1988, by Mrs Nan Hall.
Now you may well ask, what was she really like? Well, to me she was a most generous, warm, caring person, with a great sense of humour, tireless energy, always thinking of others — and of course who could ever forget that lovely smile?
Before visiting any country, she made it perfectly clear there were to be NO presents, so on one other trips here, Australia came up with an idea. It was called Ice Cream for the Chief. Every girl was told when buying an ice cream they may like to contribute one for the Chief Guide. This amounted to many hundreds of pounds, and was duly sent to her to be spent in any way she wished. After a great deal of thought she decided to have guiding material translated from English into Spanish for South America, then later in giving doors to guide buildings in many parts of the world. She loved doors, and would often say, Doors welcome friends and shut out the cold. When staying at Hampton Court, one soon realised that HER doors were forever open to friends.
The first time I met her was in 1935, when she opened the training centre, Paxlease. The guides presented her with a beautiful standard which they had made by hand. On her last visit to Australia, I was fortunate in being her secretary for the overall tour here, so we became very close friends, BUT, I must admit, there were times when she caused me some anxiety. All activities were scheduled to time, but that didn't unduly worry her as she always wished to speak to the many brownies, guides or rangers, in fact anyone who was taking part.
In 1953, I went to England for the Coronation, Lady B.-P. had written inviting me to spend a few days with her in her Grace and Favour apartment, at Hampton Court Palace. The apartment consisted of 16 rooms, but she had converted eight into an annexe, separated by a roof garden, where one could sit, chat, have refreshments, especially during the summer months.
The annexe was self-contained, where guiding families and friends could stay if accommodation was difficult to find in London. While I was there, and on behalf of the Burnside division, I bought her a rose bush, which she truly loved and placed it on the roof garden among the other flowering plants.
She was a very keen gardener, and had her own allotment fenced off about 10 minutes walk through the Palace grounds. One day we decided to do some gardening. The day was a bit bleak, so I donned my good raincoat and made my way to her bedroom. She took one look at me and said, Nan my dear, you can't possibly work in those clothes, come over to my gardening wardrobe and see what we can find for you. Well, I ended up in a tatty old rain coat, torn at one of the pockets, a pair of boots, a size too large, and one other old guide which came down to my eyebrows She didn't look all that crash either, but no matter, off we with our lunch baskets.
During stroll, a few of the employees would stop us, bow slightly and say Good morning MY LADY, this would lead to a little chit chat. Eventually we reached the garden, which enclosed by a wooden fence. On opening the gate, what a surprise I got. It was huge and very colourful. You see, I had expected to see just a couple of small plots. It was then she admitted she had taken over most of the other people's allotments as they didn't seem to want them any longer.
After heading a lean-to shelter, fitted out with chairs and tools, she asked me would like to start weeding REGENT STREET. This was of course the first time I had been there, so I guess my look of amazement must have given me away because she explained that she divided her garden into well known streets and squares in London, so while I went to work in Regent Street she disappeared to pick raspberries n Berkely Square!
After a couple of hours' work, we stopped, had lunch, then back to work until finally wending our way home with a huge basket of rhubarb, roses, delphiniums and raspberries. She grew all her own vegetables and flowers and loved them just as much as she did people.
Lady B.-P. announced that two bus loads of international guides would be arriving the next day for afternoon tea and a chat. To make things a bit easier, she asked me if I would take the first lot over the State apartments and tell them the history of the rooms. After seven years since my last visit, I didn't remember, but there were no excuses, she had written it all out for me, so off we set.
On returning sometime later, we swapped groups, and off I went again. Eventually, we all assembled together. Betty, her daughter, had arrived in the meantime, so we all had something to eat, a couple of guide songs, a brief talk from Betty, a farewell chat by Olave, three cheers for the Chief, and off they went. By this time I was exhausted but she was not.
We had many interesting outings together, to the Guild Hall where she was speaking at some special function, and shopping for the Palace Garden Party. It was always a joy to be with her, but one never quite knew what would happen next, so you see our motto, BE PREPARED, meant just that.
Guiding throughout my many years has been most rewarding, memorable in so many ways, I have met and made so many guide friends from around the world, and still keep in touch with some, stayed with others in their part of the world, but my most memorable and vivid memories are those I've shared with Olave Baden-Powell.
Nan Hall, South Australia, Guiding in Australia August 1989
It was a night in October and the event was Moogerah, Region's annual dinner. Members of the Region were meeting friends and chatting when the guest speaker and his wife arrived. They were carrying a small trunk between them and, in greeting, said "No, it isn't bullion!"
Nigel and his wife, Elaine, 12 months resident in Australia - nine in Melbourne and three in Toowoomba "where we want to live for the rest of our lives" - are a delightful, friendly couple. Nigel, who is in the insurance industry, came along to tell us about "My Granny" who was Lady Baden-Powell.
The son of Betty and Gervas Clay, Nigel was born in Africa and brought up there in "our wonderful world brotherhood and sisterhood of Scouting and Guiding". He lived in Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) until 1972 when he and Elaine moved south across the Zambesi River to Zimbabwe (Rhodesia).
On arrival in Perth the Clays were touched by the welcome given to them by a lady who has 60 years in Guiding, and her kindness to them in the 10 days they were in the city. They have received the same sort of welcome right around Australia.
In touching on four particular memories of "Granny", Nigel spoke of her wonderful enthusiasm, of how she took him and his brother for a walk miles across a Swiss mountain top to see and feel snow for the first time and when, the boys with her, she went incognito to Our Chalet (with nary a Guide badge on her). It took ages for anyone to recognise her and he was amused by the reaction of the staff when they eventually realised who their visitor was.
Whenever she could, Lady Baden-Powell went to Kenya - it was a sort of pilgrimage. In 1968 on one such visit, Nigel and younger brother Robin, flew up to Kenya to be with her and travelled all over that country with "Granny", a most vivid memory of that time being their stay at Nyeri.
Referring to his marriage to Elaine, Nigel told us about an exhausting tour of Finland by "Granny". On her last day there, when on her way to speak to 1,000 people gathered in a hall, she slipped in a passageway and hit a wall face first. Undaunted, she got up and without further ado went and spoke to the assembly. From there she flew to England and on the following day went to Bournemouth for the wedding. She wore a big hat and if one peered under the brim "two enormous shiners" could be seen! The next day she left England on yet another overseas visit.
Her last world tour was to South Africa in 1970 where Nigel and Elaine joined her in Johannesburg. It was there, 27 years previously Betty had told her mother that she was to have a baby (Nigel), that they gave her the news that they were expecting their first-born. While in England awaiting the birth Elaine went to spend a short time with "Granny", the intention being to look after her as her servant was ill.
However Elaine's role became reversed and she found she could not match Lady B.-P.'s energy.
Along with Lady Baden-Powell's grace and favour residence at Hampton Court Palace came an annexe with 13 rooms. Each room was named after a country and if someone was staying at "Hampers" (her name) she was told "You will be sleeping in Africa (or some other country) my dear". She had a garden plot at Hampers and would talk about "going to stand on my head in the garden" - this being her way of referring to her stooping method of weeding the plot in which among other things she grew rhubarb, roses and lilies.
She replied to all who wrote to her and answered the 2,000 Christmas cards she received. Nigel said she was a most remarkable person and a real Granny. In conclusion he read us a sentence from a writing by his mother, about Lady B.-P.: "She was such a marvellous Mum that as children we never noticed that she. was the World Chief Guide."
The small trunk? To us it did contain bullion and everyone enjoyed looking at the personal mementoes - photographs, newspaper clippings, books — that were in it. What a treat we had that night and our memories of Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, have been highlighted by having heard about "My Granny".
Ethel Nimmo, Asst. Region Commissioner (Qld.).
From Guiding in Australia, April 1982, page 13
This memory from a Guide
I was fortunate to meet Lady BP when I was one of the hundreds of Guides attending Camp Kumanka at Kindilan, Queensland, in 1967. We were all as excited about meeting her as we would have been to meet our favourite pop star.
I actually got to shake her hand and I still remember two special things about her: she had a lovely smile and very soft hands. Those poor hands must have been very sore that night from squeezing so many enthusiastic girls like myself.
I remember too how I felt (by then a Guide Leader myself) when I heard of her death. It was the feeling of losing a very close friend.
Juleen Sippel, Queensland.
Steal Away to Bed!
Visiting Brisbane at the time of Camp Kumanka in 1967, rovers and rangers put on a dinner for Lady Baden-Powell at Riverside Ballroom. After dinner she took part in the campfire, taught and conducted one song which was well known to all the rovers and rangers present. None of the boys or girls let on they already knew it, such was her magnetism and charm. She conducted it standing at the front edge of the stage, vigorously waving her arms much to the con¬cern of the two rovers who stationed themselves nearby ready to catch her should she fall. They tried very successfully to hide their concern but told me afterwards that they were sure she would launch herself off the stage in her vigour.
Visiting the camp, she spent the whole day there and with reluc-tance took a short rest after lunch. She was determined to meet every one of the 500 guiding people in camp. She stayed on for part of the campfire to which busloads of guiding and scouting people had come from as far away as Roma, Gladstone and northern New South Wales. Several thousand had gathered for the event. At the campfire she told a story about 'Hands' and what they could do, with everyone present hanging on her every word. At the end of the talk she mentioned that during some of the subsequent singing she was 'going HOME TO BED' — she 'DIDN'T LIKE IT anymore than any of YOU DO when you are TOLD TO GO TO BED! BUT I am going to STEAL AWAY during your singing AND I DO NOT WANT ANYONE TO GET UP OR EVEN NOTICE THAT I DO IT. JUST KEEP ON SINGING WHILE I STEAL AWAY TO BED!' (She talked in 'capital let¬ters') Lady B.-P. did just that and not one brownie, cub, guide, scout or older person stood up or waved. It was magic!
Heather Beedell Queensland
Catch my Hat
Three times the Gympie brownies and guides were in Brisbane to see Lady-Baden 1947, 1958 and 1967. What a thrill to meet her and feel they belonged, and that she was speaking to each one of us!
The 1947 visit was marked by tragedy on the railway, just north of Gympie, when the train carrying guides and brownies from division ploughed head on into a stationery train. Apart from and some bruises, the children suffered no serious injury, but were taken back to their homes. Mrs Theile who was in charge, assisted the injured, and Gympie leaders waiting for the train went out to offer help, but returned to continue their journey on another train.
Lady Baden-Powell was concerned about the incident but the rally, and meeting her, were something to remember. The next visit was the Chief's birthday in 1958 and nineteen Centenary Certificates were awarded, one coming to Gympie. Again there was a great crowd of children all with one accord, welcoming their Chief.
In May 1967, Lady Baden Powell arrived at Eagle Farm Airport to a tumultuous welcome, and again we were all there. Her personality attracted the love and respect of countless folk everywhere.
One occasion stands out in my mind when she climbed onto a table and flung her hat across the room, 'Here catch', she said and talked as a personal friend to everyone.
To me she said 'How old are you? You must be the youngest commissioner I've met'. I didn't tell her that when I toured around Hampton Court London I saw her nameplate on the door of her apartment, but probably missed a great opportunity of speaking to her when I was too shy to knock on it.
Jean Cornes, Queensland
The Last Impression
The Chief was always such an enthusiastic person, warm friendly and so very interested in people. She was what we'd call a 'joiner'. This incident relates to the last time she visited Western Australia. It rained. It always rained when she came to Western Australia. It was cold as well.
A rally had been organised for Saturday 25 June at the Perry Lakes Stadium. Girls had come from widespread country areas and there was the concern that as they assembled at the stadium, they would be very wet and very cold. So it was decided to have a warm-up activity in which everyone could join. The Chief — always greeting people: 'How are you? How are you?' — could see that the people were being asked to stand and they weren't, so she got up, and of course, then every one got up and did 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes'. When it was through the Chief called 'again' and everyone did it again. And so everyone was warm and happy and they sat down and the rally proceeded.
Now the next day the Chief was to leave by plane for London. All the goodbyes had been said, all the hands shaken and all the V.I.P.s kissed and she went up the gangway, stood at the top and waved, and of course everyone waved to her. One would think that that would be the end, but there at the doorway to the plane the Chief started 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes' and those back on the ground joined in.
That was the very last impression Australia had of her.
From the diary of the late Lorna Collins Western Australia, quoted in Guiding in Australia, May 1989.
The World Chief's magic
I was a new patrol leader in England in the mid-1950s and my patrol had to practise marching in a horizontal line. The big day arrived and all thirteen of us valiantly marched across an open area Lady Baden-Powell, at a rally in Chester, England.
What is your patrol name? she asked. To which I replied proudly, "We are the Forget-me-nots". With a twinkle in her eye, Lady Baden Powell said, / certainly won't! We marched away very proudly.
Ann Lee, South Australia, from Guiding in Australia May 1989
Lady Baden-Powell was not a wealthy person. She gave much to others and it cost a lot to travel to visit us all. She had been granted a Grace and Favour apartment at Hampton Court, so that for her lifetime she had a place to live.
Many folk in Australia had been in the habit of sending her a Christmas card and then it was thought that if they all joined together and sent her one card they could put money in it and so help out. But it was decided not to send the money to her as she would spend it on others. So a money order was sent to the grocer's shop near where she lived, and used against her account.
Extract from the diary of the late Lorna Collins, Western Australia. Guiding in Australia July 1989
In 1944,1 was fortunate to attend a leaders training week at Foxlease, Hampshire, as a new leader. During my time there, Lady Baden-Powell came to stay for three days. Meal times were especially interesting with her telling all kinds of stories from other lands, of international gatherings, strange foods and amusing incidents. On the three evenings we enjoyed her company and infectious laughter, we sat up very late listening to tales of her family, her travels, and her wonderful family of girl guides, of whom she was very proud. When we met again two years later, at a rally in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, Lady Baden-Powell remembered that training, and the young lady she had enrolled there, and me very enthusiastically. A wonderful memory of our Chief Guide.
Olive Kirk, Queensland. Guiding in Australia July 1989
My first meeting with Lady B.-P.
More than half a century ago, Lord and Lady Baden-Powell and their daughters were on a long voyage, and their ship was at anchor out in Cleveland Bay. It did not enter Townsville's harbour, but a small party of scouters and guiders went out to them on a Hayles launch.
It was during the Depression. Guiding in Townsville was in the doldrums. We were without commissioners at the time, and our small band was headed by a mere district captain.
We were received with typical graciousness and warmth. For a time Lady B.-P. talked to us at one end of the deck, the scouts and their Chief elsewhere. I can still see him coming along our way and asking, 'Who are these creatures'? We had afternoon tea with them. I am sure we were all treading on air. Looking back, I reflect on how fortunate we were to have them all to ourselves. What a joyful memory
Nancy Hopkins Brisbane Trefoil Guild, Guiding in Australia August 1989
Here they come - this was whispered along the row of brownies standing smartly to attention. They - the reason for us standing in the rain for an hour at a scout rally - Lord and Lady Baden-Powell.
We didn't mind getting wet to see that lovely smile that Lady B.-P. flashed in our direction and I was thrilled because the Chief Scout asked me about one of my badges.
The next occasion when that smile came my way was at Brighton in Sussex, United Kingdom, when our guide company attended a special church parade. This time I was able to take photos of the Chief on my Brownie box camera. While in Sussex, I lived close to where the chiefs lived at Bentley.
In 1967 when the Chief visited Australia, I applied for the job as her secretary while she was in Sydney. However, I was turned down - the committee was reluctant to load the job onto a person with young children because of Lady B.-P. 's odd working hours. Instead, because I was able to take shorthand, I was asked to record her speech at the Trocadero luncheon and at the recruiting rally following the Pioneers' function. There was that smile again, charming everyone.
While she was here, I wrote to her enclosing a photo and asked if she remembered the occasion and could identify a lady who was standing next to her. Her reply was
13 May 1967
Dear Mrs Skillington,
How nice it was to get your letter and have this contact with you again here! I am afraid I have no idea who this elderly lady is standing by me, though it might have been the first Guide Commissioner for Brighton (Lady Jennings) who was in office there before I became County Commissioner for Sussex in 1916.
'I should think judging by my appearance you must have taken this photograph sometime in the '30s and I am glad to know you have happy memories of your time in your guiding days both in Sussex and my other County of Hampshire. I lived for twenty years between the two wars at Bentley and know what a lovely part of England that is and it is still fairly unspoiled. But what a LOVELY country this is and I would recommend anybody to come to live in Australia if they had the choice.
'I hope you are thoroughly enjoying your guide work here and it is WONDERFUL to be back, and to find it all going on SO WELL.'
With kind remembrances, Yours sincerely, Olave Baden-Powell
I treasure this letter - memories of a wonderfully warm lady with a smile that seemed to embrace everyone.
How sad it was walking along Buckingham Palace Road, London, to visit Commonwealth Headquarters, on the morning of 25 June 1977 to see the World Flag flying at half-mast and knowing she had 'gone home'.
E Skillington, New South Wales, from Guiding in Australia May 1989