Brownies march on after 50 years

THE Thursday group at 3rd Stalybridge Brownies is celebrating its 50th anniversary and founder Linda Hernon remains at the helm of the St Paul’s Church based unit.


Linda Hernon

Indeed, the devotion to the girls is such that Linda, 70, from Copley Estate, has only had four weeks off in the past half century.

And as a giant party is planned late this year from brownies past and present to mark the landmark birthday, Linda has been reminiscing.

It was back in 1968 that Linda, 70, whose mother Florence Barker was a guider, suggested she should become one at St Paul’s where she had been a parishioner since the age of seven after her parents moved to Stalybridge from Ashton.

Linda said: “My mother had been talking to the Stalybridge district commissioner who told her they wanted help with the Brownies.

“I was pushed into it – you don’t say no to your mum, do you?”

Linda began with the existing Tuesday group then shortly afterwards began one on Thursday that continues to flourish and currently has a waiting list.

“Our limit is 24 girls, but we currently have 26/27 and more on a waiting list,” she continued.

Linda, who has also served as division and district commissioner, added the popularity of the Brownies remains heartening, especially in these days when there are so many other activities to do.

“We lose girls to things like swimming and gymnastics, but they leave having been given a good grounding with us,” he said.

Though there have massive changes on society over the last half century, Linda says the fundamentals of Guiding have remained unchanged.

Linda said: “We still do lots of the same activities – the girls love doing crafts.

“They have evolved and are slightly harder and we have to be more inventive than we once were.

“Children have changed and expectations today are a lot higher, though they still love to colour. That has not changed.”

Other activities include an annual nativity, one year traditional and the next “whacky”, bowling and trips to places like Gulliver’s World.

There are also holidays at Seven Springs Outdoor Adventure Park, Disley, which are especially popular.

“They are great fun and you find out more about the girls in one weekend than in three years,” she said.

Linda added she gets great joy from seeing the girls develop – brownies are with the unit between the ages of seven and 10.

“It also helps me remain youthful and not to stagnate,” she said.

She went on: “It is also nice to see girls who were once Brownies bring their own children.

“Victoria Cable, one of our leaders, was once in our Brownies as was Emma MacIver who is training to be a leader.”

Linda’s daughter Jennifer was also in the Brownies which means three generations have been involved.

Son Mark has given Linda her first grandson, Mark, and she joked: “He has let us down because had it been a girl we might have had a fourth generation.

Linda also praised husband Tony saying: “He has always backed me because it has been a big commitment.
“He takes me all over for arts and crafts materials for the group.”

Linda is looking forward to the birthday party – the last one was a Japanese tea party on the 30th birthday when Tom Pendry, then MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, and former Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty were the guests.

Linda, a secretary in her working life, has also been heavily involved at St Paul’s where she has been secretary of the Parochial Parish Council and a Sunday school teacher.

• Brownies Isobel Whettam and Sophie Fynn have been named the group’s joint Brownies of the year.
Isobel is a pupil at Stalyhill Juniors while Sophie goes to St Paul’s. They will each hold the trophy for six months.

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