Leeds ,

Celebrate a century of city's Girlguiding Senior Section

Girl Guides past and present can don their uniforms this weekend to celebrate more than a hundred years at the heart of Leeds’s local communities.

A nostalgic new exhibition opening at Kirkstall’s Abbey House Museum will look back over a century of Girlguiding’s Senior Section, which marks its centenary this year.

And for one day only this Saturday (Jan 30) Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Senior Section, Trefoil Guild, Beavers, Cubs or Scouts who come along in uniform will get free entry to the museum.

The Senior Section began in 1916 for young women aged 16 to 25, who were originally known as Senior Guides.

Guides from this section played a role in some of the most historic moments of the last century, with eight Senior Guides asked to be present at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference after the First World War, serving as messengers to the British delegation. They were also present at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

The exhibition entitled Senior Section Spectacular, features historic photographs of Leeds’s guiding members, including pictures of the city’s very own Sea Ranger Company when they launched their boat, named the Sea Ranger Ship (S.R.S.) Hardy, on Roundhay Park Boating Lake in 1964.

Uniforms, badges and certificates, on loan from the archive of Girlguiding Leeds and members of the Leeds Trefoil Guild, are also on display.

And a specially commissioned film charts the history of the movement, including interviews with different generations of Girlguiding’s Senior Section from around Leeds.

Current members of the city’s Skyrac Division of the Senior Section, all aged 14-25, have helped put the exhibition together, by exploring the national and international impact of Girlguiding through the years.

Jan Ali, newly appointed County Commissioner at Girlguiding Leeds, said:

“Guiding remains as relevant in 2016 as it was in 1916 and it is great that members of guiding in Leeds, past and present, have worked together on this exhibition to not only commemorate 100 years of The Senior Section, but also to highlight all the exciting things about being in The Senior Section.

“The Senior Section enables each young woman to get involved with Girlguiding in a flexible way, choosing her own level of commitment from attending a Senior Section group to training as a Young Leader.

“The amazing opportunities on offer range from outdoor adventure, peer mentoring, advocacy and leadership skills to international travel. In August this year, for example, 15 members of The Senior Section from Leeds will be visiting one of Girlguiding’s world centres in Sangam in India to work on a community based project.”

As well as the displays, local guiding expert Marjorie Emsley of Girlguiding Leeds will also be giving a talk at Abbey House on International Women’s Day, March 8, at 2pm.

The cost for the talk is £5 and includes entry to the rest of the museum.

Marjorie will also give a talk at Leeds City Museum on April 21 from 2-3pm.

And Senior Section members past and present can still become part of the Abbey House exhibition, which runs until July 24, by contributing their own images which can be added over the course of the display.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said:

“Girlguiding has played an important role in the lives of thousands of women and children in Leeds through the years and I’m sure this exhibition will bring back some very special memories for them.

“It has also made a real difference in our local communities and it’s fitting that we commemorate such a huge milestone for what is very much a British institution.”

Senior Section Spectacular has been put together in collaboration with Girlguiding Leeds and follows on from a previous project in 2010, when Girlguiding celebrated its centenary with a display at Leeds City Museum.

For more information on the exhibition, to book onto the March talk or to submit your own images of your time in the Senior Section, contact Abbey House Museum on 0113 378 4079 or email abbey.house@leeds.gov.uk