The 1st Rodborough Girl Guide Company
This was Gloucestershire’s first Guide Company, formed in August 1914. Mildred & Rosie Humpidge were the step-daughters of Rev. Watson of Rodborough Tabernacle where the group met. Mildred was appointed Captain with Rosie Humpidge and Marjorie Platt as Lieutenants.
10 girls initially joined, and a committee of ladies was appointed. They met on Saturday afternoons and spent time on the common learning tracking and lighting camp fires, and blackberrying to raise funds. The weekly subscription was a penny. The Guides learned First Aid, signalling and tying up a burglar with 8 inches of cord! They performed a play and took badges in art, music, cycling, interpreting, ambulance, needlework and laundry.
Guides and the First World War
Before long the impact of the Great War crept into records. In February 1915 Belgian Refugees arrived and it appears that they were housed at the Tabernacle Manse (Rev. Watson had remarried in 1914 and lived in Church Place, Rodborough). The Guides were involved in the preparation of the Manse and an 11-year-old Belgian refugee named Victorie Van Tuermenhout joined the company. In July 1916 the possibility of war work at a new Red Cross Hospital in Castle St, Stroud was noted and by October 1917 some of the Guides were helping there, a War Service Badge being an award they could attain. At the start of 1917 the Guides borrowed a trek cart from the Scouts and started frequent collections of newspapers across a wide area of Stroud for the National relief Fund and took part in Patriotic Economy Exhibitions and helped with a community fruit dryer.
Gardening is noted from 1918 and by 1919 they were renting an allotment at Rodborough Avenue.
In 1918 following the resignation of Lieut. Marjorie Platt due to ill health, Belgian sisters Anne & Laurie Reusonnet of The Manse, Rodborough became Lieutenants in Rodborough Guides and their sister Madelaine soon joined as a Guide. There is no mention of their age or experience, but it is clear that they were popular. They returned to Belgium around March 1919 but Anne returned for a holiday that October and visited the Guides.
The 1st Rodborough Guides had the sad honour to attended the memorial service for Charlie Knee, the young former Assistant Scoutmaster of the Rodborough Troop, who was killed in the war.
The visit of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell 1916
On Easter Sunday 1916 Lady Baden Powell, the Chief Guide visited
“April 8th 1916 – Lieut. Humpidge received a letter to the effect that Sir Robert and Lady Baden Powell were motoring through Stroud and would inspect the Company. Great excitement in the ranks! Also great preparation and practise. Drills etc. were organised and many instructions given as to saluting etc. … “
“April 23rd 1916 – there was a good gathering of people at the Rod Tab Green to view the inspection. The weather was favourable and the guests punctual. Although the Guides were considerably flustered, they did not show it and did themselves great credit to their training and officers. The Chief and his wife inspected the Guides and said a few words to each Patrol Leader. Lady Baden Powell then said a few very encouraging words to the Guides after which they were dismissed.
Both the Chief and his wife were perfectly free and easy and chatted with the Chaplain and the officers for quite a while. They partook of tea and then drove off in their two-seater Standard, Lady Baden Powell driving. Mrs Watson had a charming letter afterwards from Lady Baden Powell and Captain Humpidge from Sir Robert.”
“April 29th -There was not much work done, the girls being very full of the previous Sunday. The two letters were read to them”.
This visit was followed by a flurry of new recruits! The Company swelled to over 30.
Thirty years later in 1946 a copse of trees was planted on Rodborough Common to commemorate the occasion. It is known locally as the Baden-Powell Wood.
1918 1st Rodborough Guide Company photo
1st Rodborough Guides attended Lady Baden-Powell’s rally in Gloucester 1920
One of the Guides’ activities noted that we would question today was picking wild flowers. They would send bluebells, cowslips and primroses (by train?) to hospitals in London and Birmingham or pick them simply for their own pleasure:
An example page from the record book:
List of names in 1st Rodborough Guides Records 1914-1936 with thanks to Sue Bowden for the loan of her family archive.
Mildred Humpidge resigned from leadership of Rodborough Guides in 1936 but continued to serve the Gloucestershire Girl Guide Movement throughout her life. In 1951 she was bestowed the Beaver Award, one of the highest decorations in Guiding, in recognition of her outstanding work.
Miss May Greensweig (Mrs Haines) took over as Captain. having previously been Tawny Owl of Rodborough Brownies. The group attended the Scout and Guide Rally at Eastnor Park in 1936 and by the end of the year numbers had grown from 10 to 24 Guides in the Company.
1939 was the 25th Anniversary of the Company and on 8th & 9th July a camp weekend was held in the field below the Rover Hut. Unfortunately, the weather was so bad that outdoor sports were replaced with indoor games and competitions in the Tabernacle Schoolroom, but the camp fire was finally lit.
May Haines went on to write The History of Guiding in Gloucestershire 1910-1990 published in 1990.
In 1946 Miss Clara Daniels became Captain.
In 1955 Miss Eleanor Gratton was appointed Captain.
In 1956 Mrs C. Payne was Captain.
In 1965 Miss Linda Vowles (Mrs Studdart-Kennedy) was Captain.
The Stroud News featured Lynda and her sisters in a “Women of 1968” article. June was assistant Guider and Karen had also been involved with Guiding in Rodborough. The article mentioned a previous trio of sisters who had been company leaders: Mary, Jane & Katherine Friend.
In 1970 Miss Cynthia Discott was Captain.
In 1972 Mrs Winifred Evans was Captain
1974 – Rodborough Guides 60th Anniversary
In 1977 Miss Jacqueline Stephen was 1st Rodborough Guide Captain.
In 1982 Mrs Anne Fisher was Captain.
In 1984 Miss Theresa Mansbridge was appointed Captain.
In 1987 Miss Elizabeth Townley was Captain.
In 1988 Miss Claire Gwillan was Captain.
1st Rodborough Guides celebrated their 90th birthday. Kate Creed & Lorna Griffiths were their leaders.
More photos on our Facebook page.
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