Volunteers came together to chat, learn and have fun

On Sunday 15th October nearly 100 volunteers came together at the Bentley Priory Museum for our first county day since 2019, with half the units in the County represented.

The day started in the Operations Room, where Jennifer Maidment, County Commissioner, Marian Brown and Jade Fardon, Assistant County Commissioners, introduced the day which included highlights of achievements since the last County Day in 2019.

They acknowledged the challenges faced during the pandemic and thanked everyone for their Girlguiding spirit and support that shone throughout. Other highlights included the County’s participation in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Beacon events, lighting a beacon at Willow Tree, County Awards Evening and Willow Tree’s 21st Birthday, where an afternoon tea was organised to celebrate.

The amazing achievements of our volunteers over the past year were recognised and we heard a snapshot of some of the County and Division events we have held throughout the year.

The volunteers then split off into their first sessions. The main day, was made up of four, 45min workshop sessions, where our volunteers were able to pick from the following session options:

  • Unit Health Check
  • Fundraising
  • Getting the most out of the programme (four sessions for each Section)
  • Existing Commissioner Support
  • Tips and Ideas for Planning Residentials
  • Supporting with Additional Needs
  • Growth and Retention for Units
  • Exploring the role of Commissioners

Volunteers could also choose to speak to IT Support, complete their DBS checks, or go along to the Wellbeing room. Alison Pennack facilitated various crafting activities, such as pipe-cleaner flowers, friendship bracelets and pyrography. They also had the opportunity to talk about wellbeing and have a reflexology session.

Various County Team members ran sessions throughout the day and we were also very grateful to have support from region and external volunteers. Hannah Crane supported us with commissioner training, Marion Chase and Claire Fargeot led each of the section programme sessions and January O’Donnell and Ella Guest shared their expertise and experience of supporting additional needs and wellbeing.

“County Day was a great opportunity to meet leaders from other units and areas. I found all of the sessions informative and had fun trying crafts and activities. Thank you to all the organising team and trainers. See you all next year!” Tuesday Horne, 1st Northwood Brownies

Over lunch and the breaks, volunteers could take advantage of picking up Girlguiding supplies from our Ickenham Depot, managed by Marjorie Brooks, be tempted by more badges and goodies at the Willow Tree shop, looked after by Janet Brock and a wide selection of badges being sold by Christine and Katherine Mills. Many volunteers also took up the opportunity to pre-order and pick up on the day. A big thanks to our Niki Caplan, County Badge Secretary, for ensuring these were all given out. Thank you to the Trefoil Guild for doing an excellent job of keeping refreshments topped up throughout the day and expectedly co-ordinating everyone through the lunch break. There were also lots of stands by the advisers and coordinators from the county team, who had made some fantastic displays about their areas. Volunteers were able to come and have a chat to find out more and ask any questions they may have.

“What a great County Day! Can’t believe we crammed so much in! The team did such an amazing job in helping us get the most out of the day and still gave us plenty of time to meet with other leaders within an amazing location. Special thanks to the Trefoil Guild for helping with my dietary requirements. I look forward to next year!” Jo Cieloch, 1st Hillingdon Guides

The day finished with all volunteers back in the Operations Room with our guest speaker. Ella Guest led a talk on Managing Competing Demands and Your Wellbeing. This engaging talk encouraged lots of contributions from volunteers about what they do to unwind which included walking, talking to someone and ironing (which prompted another volunteer to pipe up “please feel free to do all of my ironing!). Ella gave a lovely analogy about us all having a bucket that’s normally 3/4s full of water, but on occasion when we have too much going on it starts to overfill and we need to turn on the tap to release some of the water so we feel less overwhelmed.

All volunteers left with a specially branded Middlesex Northwest County lanyard that they can use within their own unit meeting place or residentials. 97% of volunteers rated the day with a happy face and we are really pleased the day was received so positively. In the feedback received so far, many volunteers said they enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and said it was a brilliant day.

“The day was very well organised and I enjoyed all the sessions on offer. It was great to catch up with fellow leaders and meet new leaders across the county. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and loved the location!” Melissa Patel, 2nd Hatch End Brownies

A massive thank you to Bentley Priory volunteers who helped us on the day and set up in advance, we also greatly valued their guidance and advice in the planning stages of the event.

Have a look the dedicated Brownies resources uploaded onto their website as they welcome group bookings to learn more about Bentley Priory Museum.