Here they come - this was
whispered along the row of brownies standing smartly to attention. They - the
reason for us standing in the rain for an hour at a scout rally - Lord and Lady
We didn't mind getting wet
to see that lovely smile that Lady B.-P. flashed in our direction and I was
thrilled because the Chief Scout asked me about one of my badges.
The next occasion when
that smile came my way was at Brighton in Sussex, United Kingdom, when our guide
company attended a special church parade. This time I was able to take photos of
the Chief on my Brownie box camera. While in Sussex, I lived close to where the
chiefs lived at Bentley.
In 1967 when the Chief
visited Australia, I applied for the job as her secretary while she was in
Sydney. However, I was turned down - the committee was reluctant to load the job
onto a person with young children because of Lady B.-P. 's odd working hours.
Instead, because I was able to take shorthand, I was asked to record her speech
at the Trocadero luncheon and at the recruiting rally following the Pioneers'
function. There was that smile again, charming everyone.
While she was here, I
wrote to her enclosing a photo and asked if she remembered the occasion and
could identify a lady who was standing next to her. Her reply was
13 May 1967
Dear Mrs Skillington,
How nice it was to get
your letter and have this contact with you again here! I am afraid I have no
idea who this elderly lady is standing by me, though it might have been the
first Guide Commissioner for Brighton (Lady Jennings) who was in office there
before I became County Commissioner for Sussex in 1916.
'I should think judging
by my appearance you must have taken this photograph sometime in the '30s and I
am glad to know you have happy memories of your time in your guiding days both
in Sussex and my other County of Hampshire. I lived for twenty years between the
two wars at Bentley and know what a lovely part of England that is and it is
still fairly unspoiled. But what a LOVELY country this is and I would recommend
anybody to come to live in Australia if they had the choice.
'I hope you are thoroughly
enjoying your guide work here and it is WONDERFUL to be back, and to find it all
going on SO WELL.'
With kind remembrances,
Yours sincerely, Olave Baden-Powell
I treasure this letter - memories of a wonderfully warm lady with a smile that seemed to embrace
How sad it was walking
along Buckingham Palace Road, London, to visit Commonwealth Headquarters, on the
morning of 25 June 1977 to see the World Flag flying at half-mast and knowing
she had 'gone home'.
Skillington, New South Wales, from Guiding in Australia May 1989