First I was a Brownie in Somerset, then a Brownie ( Sprite) and GirlGuide (Daffodil) when we moved house to Gloucestershire. Guiding helped instil in me the importance of a healthy lifestyle – and leadership – and confidence in oneself. I had a strict upbringing and my father kept me like a coiled spring under his thumb. Guiding released that spring. I had so much energy – I still do – and I was able to channel it into leadership and motivating people. It gave me the guidelines for my life and career.
I even used my guiding skills recently. I did a sponsored trek along the Great Wall of China with 34 other women raising funds for Breast Cancer Care charity. At one point we came to a fork in the mountain paths. I was in the first of our two groups. Calling on my Girl Guide training, I blocked a path with large stones and drew an enormous arrow in the soft earth with my trekking stick to indicate to the other group the route we had taken.
Obesity is on the rise in young people and it’s difficult to teach girls about being fit and healthy. But as Guides if girls see Leaders preparing healthy food they will learn that it’s good for them. And not using the word ‘exercise’ – because that’s boring – but playing games or just being outdoors is healthy and beneficial too. I played rounders as a Brownie and Guide and I got fit without even realising it!
I feel strongly about women’s issues such as breast cancer, osteoporosis and ageing. I’m generally interested in the successful ageing of women. Now is a wonderful time to be an older woman. If you keep a check on your health then the world is your oyster. Many women are sadly on their own – as I am. But I don’t have to stay at home as my grandmother would have done. I go on holidays and to restaurants with my girl friends – it’s like being a Girl Guide again!
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I was 48 and felt confused, angry and somehow “ashamed”. I was supposed to be this health guru and suddenly I was unwell. I felt I’d done something wrong and I only told a handful of people. Clare my lifelong friend had been both a Brownie and Guide with me. I confided all my hopes and fears in her.
I would advise other people who are diagnosed to talk and ask questions to arm themselves with information, check their breasts and have mammograms regularly. If found in its early stages, cancer needn’t be a killer.
Being a Girl Guide taught me the basic tips to for a fit and healthy lifestyle.
- Eat a balanced diet
- Lots of fresh food
- Keep active
- Get involved with the younger generation.
(It keeps your feet on the ground,up to speed with what is going on and stops you saying ‘not in my day’)