Prepared by Bruce Barbour,
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Margaret Barbour, my mother, was a member of the Girl Guide Association for about 78 years, most of her life. Girl Guides was important to Margaret and impacted on her life in many ways. I will provide a brief history of her life in guiding and some of her achievements within that organisation.
When Margaret was 15, in 1941, Maidie Williams, a keen Guide leader and a friend of Vera Paice, Margaret’s mother, spoke to Vera to convince her to allow Margaret to join the Girl Guides. Vera agreed and so began a life time involvement with the organisation. At around that time Maidie gave Margaret her Girl Guiding book from 1926. I have included a scan of the front page of this book immediately below. The writing in blue is from Margaret. Maidie's writing above.
The book contains the Guide Law and Promise, which Margaret agreed to when she was accepted as a Guide with the 1st Ascot Vale Guide company. I have included scans of the pages containing the Guide Promise and the Laws from that time below. Please note the current Guide Promise and Law has changed, which is to be expected after 90+ years.
To Margaret the Guide Law and Promise were not just empty words. Ever since she joined she took them to heart and endeavoured to live by them. They guided many of her ideas and actions in life. This manifested in her commitment to service to the Girl Guide movement and to the wider community.
I will briefly go over Margaret's life in guiding and some of her achievements. I start with some words written by Margaret herself about her early life in Guiding. The exact date that this was written is not known – possibly circa 2002.
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Margaret became a Guide in 1941 and after two years moved onto Rangers in 1943. In 1945 Margaret became a lieutenant with 1st Ascot Vale Guides.
In 1947 Margaret became the “Captain” with 1st Aberfeldie Guides, a position she held until 1955. The 1st Aberfeldie Guides provided the bridal party with a "Guard of Honour" at her wedding to Robert Edward (Bert) Barbour on 10 December 1949, incidentally the day the Liberal - Country Party coalition was elected, with Bob Menzies as the Prime Minister for the second time - the Prime Ministership which would last 16 years.
Between 1956 and 1960 Margaret lists her involvement with Guides as being a member of the "Strathmore Local Association" of the Guides. In that period she would have had her hands full with family, having three children between 1953 and 1958, which would have kept her busy enough by itself.
The Strathmore Community Association, which Margaret's husband Bert was a member and office holder, had constructed a community hall in Loeman Street across the road from the house where Margaret and her family lived. The hall offered Margaret an opportunity: to establish a Girl Guide group in the hall and she became leader of 2nd Strathmore Girl Guides. Margaret ran the group for 18 years from 1961 to 1979, running weekly meetings on a Wednesday evening.
In 1964 Margaret gained permits from Guiding HQ for
running indoor camps and
later in 1969 for running outdoor camps. Margaret
regularly took the Guides away on weekend camps. Usually
Margaret took the Guides away on camp one to three times
per year. Often they went to the Rowallan
guide camp, near Riddells Creek, but they also went
to other camp sites in Yarra
Junction, Macrae and Dromana. The camps were mainly
indoor camps, but sometimes outdoor (under canvas).
As the leader of 2nd Strathmore Margaret was called "Cap"
- except when on camp where, for reasons only known to
Guides, Margaret was called "Nara".
While still the leader of 2nd Strathmore, in 1970 Margaret became a Guide leader trainer, a member of Region's Training Team. This involved gaining and maintaining a qualification from Headquarters. Margaret provided 1st Stage Training – "Introduction to new leaders”, training for new Guide leaders. Margaret said that she found this "challenging and I enjoyed helping new Leaders." Margaret continued to provide training for nine years until 1979.
In 1980 Margaret was appointed as the Strathmore Girl Guide District Commissioner, the position which she held until 1985. Also in 1980 Margaret was involved in the establishment of the Strathmore branch of the Trefoil Guild and acted as the president for much of its operation. The Trefoil Guild is the organisation for adult Guides.
After finishing as District Commissioner Margaret still wanted to maintain an association with Guides so she did two things. She maintained her membership of the Trefoil Guild. Margaret’s involvement in Trefoil Guild continued until 2018. Also from 1986 Margaret edited, printed and distributed a bi-monthly Guiding newsletter for the North Metro Region of Guides called Matilda’s Mate. This continued until about 2004.
(Incidentally it was called Matilda's Mate because the Girl Guide Association had published a newsletter / magazine for wider distribution. That magazine had been called "Matilda" so it was fitting that the North Metro Region's newsletter was called "Matilda's Mate".)
In 2018 Margaret was unable to attend the Trefoil Guild meetings so she joined Girl Guides Victoria as a direct member.
Margaret had many other positions and involvements in Guiding over time, some of which I will list here:
Margaret clearly enjoyed all aspects of her involvement in Guiding throughout her life. However not only did she enjoy the involvement, through her service in Guiding Margaret has made a positive contribution to the lives of many young girls.
History of Essendon and
Strathmore Girl Guides. - compiled and written by
A history of Matilda's
Mate - written by Margaret Barbour
Please also view the Photo
Album, which is a collection of Guiding photographs
in Margaret's photo album from her years in Guiding.
Photos date from the early 1940s Also some historical
Margaret also undertook community service in addition to
her work with the Girl Guide Association. You can read a
summary on the page - Not
Just Guiding. - with some additional photos on an additional photo
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