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'Judy, meet Mum' was my introduction to the Chief Guide. A far cry from the ceremony which surrounded my earlier introduction some years before when, as a leader of the South Lancashire contingent to B.-P. 62 International Senior Gathering, I was formally introduced to Lady B.-P.

Now, several years later, the meeting was different - very different. To set the scene - I had answered an advertisement for ranger helpers to assist at a camp for physically handicapped guides at Woodlarks, a specially equipped site in Surrey, England.

At tea on the first evening we were told that one of our fellow helpers was rather special. “Look for the Chief’s eyes?was the clue, and the answer was Betty Clay, youngest of the Baden-Powell children, on vacation from her home in Northern Rhodesia and anxious to do her share along with the rest of us.

On our excursion to Hampton Court Palace, Betty took us to see her mother's Grace and Favour apartment and, as we arrived, the door flew open and out sprang her Mum. “Can't stop to invite you and your friend in, Betty? she said, “got to get on with the garden? Here was the lady who was mum, grandmum, friend, adviser, World Chief Guide - as she loved to be - covered in soil, old tattered sun hat on head, garden-coloured clothes and muddy shoes.

This was the lady held in awe by every brownie, wonder by every guide and admiration by every leader - the lady every enrolled member longed to meet - fixing up the garden and loving every minute of it. We chatted about the camp and about the difficulties, the frustrations and the joys experienced by our handicapped friends and she understood and felt for each and every one. Then she was back to the garden with a flourish, anxious to catch every minute of daylight.

A lady of many talents, many interests, many commitments yet always having time for people, individuals like me who, as a small brownie, made her a Thinking Day card every year and, without fail, received a personal handwritten reply. A wonderful person, a shining light sent to inspire everyone in the great Guiding movement. That light, surely, has passed on to every member of our World Sisterhood.

Judy Perrin, New South Wales, Guiding in Australia July 1989

 

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