Ipswich Brownie pack celebrates 70 years of girlguiding

Members of the 19th Ipswich Brownies cut the cake to mark the group's 70th birthday on Wednesday.

Members of the 19th Ipswich Brownies cut the cake to mark the group's 70th birthday on Wednesday. - Credit: Steph Fowkes

The Queen is not the only person to mark a special 70th celebration this year, with a long-running Brownie group also celebrating seven decades of girlguiding.

The 19th Ipswich Brownies, who meet at the Hillside Primary School on Belstead Avenue, has been running since July 13, 1952.

“The whole spirit of Girlguiding is still very much there – that nice, community feeling has remained, even though a lot else has changed,” said unit helper, Steph Fowkes – or as she is known to the rainbows, guides and brownies, Lunarbelle. 

“I let the children name me, although we also have some of the traditional owls,” explained Steph, 32. 

The group also has a Brown Owl (Marguerite Reed), Little Owl (Hannah Lamond), Green Owl (Audrey Butcher) and Sunshine (Cheryl Mann). 

The group tries to offer as many varied activities to its young members as possible, who include Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. 

“We’ve recently went to Pernickety Pots [ceramics café], and we’ve done the elephant trail and owl trail, working towards earning their ‘owl’ badge,” explained Steph, 32.  

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“The badges have all changed from the days when you had to do things like ‘housekeeping.’ 

“I remember being a brownie, and earning one of my badges by going round to my Wise Owl’s house and polishing her cutlery. 

“Now, they’re very on trend. There are loads of animal badges, and skills-building badges. They can be quite complex and challenging.” 

The group also offers the chance for members to have discussions and share ideas. 

“Just recently with the guides, we had a talk about there being all different kinds of people. They were informing me on lots of different things, like gender,” Steph said. 

“There’s a lot of nurturing going on behind the scenes. It gives them that little bit of time, that maybe they aren’t able to get at school. 

“We had a new girl come into the group a few weeks ago, and when she arrived, she was clinging to her mum.  

“By the end of the session, she was a completely different child – she said she loved it and couldn’t wait to come back.” 

The group celebrated with a party on Wednesday evening, with games, cake stand and a raffle with over 40 prizes, many contributed by Ipswich businesses. 

 This included the Milkshed Café in Sproughton, The Green Room in Ipswich, Red Rose Chain Theatre and the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary.