It was in 1949 when I was a very inexperienced commissioner in the Sudan that
we had the very great honour and pleasure of a visit lasting several days from
Lady Baden-Powell. Although we were, of course, a bit overawed at first, she
soon put us at ease with her charm and lack of formality.
We had had a very
successful rally in Khartoum and she had officially opened the new guide
headquarters when we flew her, in a small 'Dove' aircraft, to Atbarra, some 300
miles north across the desert, to visit a Sudanese girls' school guide company.
After a happy and successful day, including generous hospitality from parents
and local association members, we took our seats in the plane for the homeward
While we were waiting for take-off, Lady Baden-Powell was telling me how,
after just such a day in, I think, Cyprus, they had been sitting in the plane,
just like this, when the pilot came along and said that he was very sorry but
the plane would not start and they had to troop out and descend once more upon
their unfortunate hostesses of the day, who had thought they had seen them
safely off, but who had to entertain them again until another plane could be
sent out... she had hardly finished speaking when, lo and behold, our pilot came
along, full of apologies, to say that he was very sorry but the plane would not
start and we too had to return to our kind hosts of the day, and be given
hospitality until another plane could be sent out from Khartoum to fetch us!
By now, however, it was late, completely dark and the desert air-strip had no
lights. So how were we to take off? The problem was finally solved, once more by
our kind hosts, who brought their cars up on either side of the plane and shone
their headlights along the runway. Final departure of the World Chief Guide and
company, to a chorus of cheers from our very relieved hosts and hostesses of the
Enid Cumings A.C.T.