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Past Times

In photos: Magnificent milestone as 40th Mannofield Girl Guides celebrate 100 years

Much has changed in the last century, but the 40th Mannofield Guides are still going strong. The unit is having a special tea party to celebrate 100 years of fun, friendship and fellowship.
Kirstie Waterston
40th Mannofield Guides pictured in 1978. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides
40th Mannofield Guides pictured in 1978. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

When Mannofield Girl Guides started 100 years ago, Ramsay MacDonald was Prime Minister and King George V was on the throne.

Now, a mere 23 governments, four monarchs and generations of Girl Guides and volunteers later, the 40th Mannofield Guides group is still going strong.

The unit was officially founded as the 40th (Mannofield Church) Company Girl Guides in 1924 – and still meets at the same church 100 years on.

40th Mannofield Guides and the 44th Boys’ Brigade in 1958. Aberdeen. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

And now the group is celebrating its magnificent milestone with former guides and leaders at a 100th birthday tea party tomorrow.

Mannofield minister was keen to establish Guide company in 1923

It was then-minister of the church, the Reverend John Aulay Steele, who was keen to see a Girl Guide company established at Mannofield Church.

By 1909, there was already a Women’s Guild and the flourishing 44th Aberdeen Boys’ Brigade Company attached to Mannofield Church, but nothing for young girls.

Guides at Mannofield receiving their awards. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

In 1923 Mr Steele wanted this to change, and tasked a woman called Jean Taggart with establishing a Guide unit.

Heather Tait, 40th Mannofield’s current guide unit leader, said: “Mrs Jean Taggart was asked by then-minister of Mannofield Rev Steele to start a Guide company at the end of 1923.

“She says in the letter that ‘I was with the guides at Pitstruan Church and couldn’t count myself competent enough to take on that responsibility’.

A picture of 40th Mannofield Guides from the past. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

“But in February 1924, Jean took on the role of Guide Captain, as the leaders were then known, and the Guides have been at Mannofield ever since.”

Writing in the 1924 Mannofield Church Year Book, Mr Steele said: “The various organisations, notably the Sunday School, are in a sound and hopeful state, and recently their number has been added to, in the shape of a healthy “League of Young Worshippers” and a newly-launched Company of Girl Guides.”

Decades of dedicated volunteering at 40th Mannofield

The Girl Guide company quickly went from strength to strength and still meets every Wednesday at Mannofield Church Hall.

The 40th (Mannofield Church) Guides teams for the festival in March 1964. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

And numbers are very healthy, with 30 guides aged between 10 and 14 meeting every week.

Leader Heather said: “There has always been a strong unit in Mannofield as many girls come from the two Brownie units we have.

“The leaders play a big part in the running of the successful units.”

Guides enjoying themselves at camp. Aberdeen. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

And it’s truly thanks to decades of dedication from both leaders and Guides, that 40th Mannofield is now celebrating a century of success.

Heather added: “The information we have on leaders only has a few gaps, most of these being during the end of the 1930s and 1948 probably due to the war years.

“According to the list we have, there have been 11 guide captains/leaders in charge, with around 25 lieutenants/assistant guiders over the hundred years – with me being in charge for the longest.”

One of the photos on display for 40th Mannofield Guides’ centenary. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

Heather has been volunteering for an incredible 32 years – nearly a third of the time the unit has existed.

Guides continued throughout Covid lockdown

In that time, lots of memorable times have taken place at 40th Mannofield, and Heather said there’s been many proud moments for both leaders and girls.

As well as the expected guide activities like camps, other stand-out memories included a ‘murder mystery weekend’ at Fyfe House – the Girl Guides’ residential accommodation near Inverurie.

40th Mannofield Guides posing for a group photo in 1977. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

In October 2010, a celebration was held at the AECC to mark the centenary of Girl Guiding, featuring a performance from pop singer Olly Murs.

But it was one of Heather’s guides from Mannofield that opened the celebration playing the bagpipes.

Even during the pandemic lockdown, the leaders kept the unit going so none of the girls missed out.

40th Mannofield Guides pictured in 1978. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

During Covid, 40th Mannofield managed to carry on with online meetings.

Heather said: “We always had everyone present, we had games, baked, cooked, crafted, and even met some goats – all from home.

“We also had a very poignant promise ceremony in front of the church, where parents could watch from a distance on a cold night in 2021.”

Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was fun celebration at Mannofield

After having to partake in socially-distanced ceremonies in 2021, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was a welcome celebration for the girls the following year.

Two guides holding a certificate. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

A big party was held at Mannofield where girls wore masks of the Queen and her corgis, and enjoyed decorating cakes.

The Queen was famously patron of the Guide Association from 1953 until her death in 2022, after becoming a guide herself aged 11 in 1937.

The highest-attainable accolade in guiding is the Queen’s Guide award, and in 1970 history was made at Mannofield when the first Queen’s Awards were presented at the company.

Three Aberdeen Girl Guides of the 40th (Mannofield Church) Company made a little history in December 1970 when they became the first members of the company to receive the Queen’s Badge. The presentation was made by District Commissioner Miss A May to, from left, Elaine Ledingham, Jennifer Brown and Linda Reid. Image: DC Thomson

The award was presented to Elaine Ledingham, Jennifer Brown and Linda Reid.

Achievements and badgework have been a constant of Girl Guiding since its inception.

Core values of Girl Guiding have stood the test of time

But there has, of course, been a lot of change in the 32 years Heather has been involved – let alone the last century.

Heather said: “Guiding has changed lots over 100 years, but the values are still the same.

1989: Mannofield members taking part in their open night when Ruth Adie, top, was presented with her Baden Powell Trefoil award. Ruth Adie with other cast members Victoria Rennie, Ruth Parkinson and Jan Duncan. Image: DC Thomson

“The girls come to Guides for friendship and fun, as they did in the past. There is more freedom to contribute and realise their own activities today, but some traditional ideas are still used.”

When it comes to entertainment, youngsters are spoilt for choice these days, making 40th Mannofield’s milestone birthday even more special.

Heather said: “It is an achievement for Guides still to be going as we almost ‘compete’ with all the other activities young girls have in their busy lives today.”

An open night at 40th Mannofield Guides 1983. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

But ultimately, having a girls’ organisation with core values of having fun, making friends and empowerment still makes Guides as relevant today as 40 years ago.

Heather added: “Girls and leaders also like having an organisation for girls, where the girls have the freedom to choose their own programme and things are girl-led.”

Guides set to celebrate with tea party

Former members are welcome to attend the celebration tomorrow, Saturday March 16, but are asked to RSVP to Mannofield Church office beforehand at: quoting “Guides 100th Party”.

Brownies, Guides and leaders at Mannofield in the 1970s. Image: 40th Mannofield Guides

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