Please note the text below has been updated since its original publication in the Highbridge History project book thanks to contributor David Derham and others. If you would like to add anything to the material on this site, send your thoughts, memories and updates via the comments box at the bottom of the page – all are warmly welcomed.
This is an international organisation formed by Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell in 1908 (and the Girl Guides in 1910); the aim was to produce good citizenship in the rising generation. As a young Cavalry Officer he had served with distinction in the South African War defending Mafeking. On his return from military service, he saw that young men required incentives in order to provide for themselves a better life. There was a need to help boys of whatever class to become all-round men; the aim was develop good character, to train them in habits of observation, obedience and self-reliance. Also instilling a sense of loyalty and thought for others and to teach them services useful to the public and handicrafts useful to themselves, there was also a need to promote their physical development and hygiene.
The first camp for boys was held on Brownsea Island in 1907; 22 boys were chosen to test the scheme; such was the success that the movement was born.
The current Boy Scout Creed, which every boy has to promise, is: –
I promise that I will do my best,
To love my God,
To serve the Queen and my country,
To help other people and obey the Scout Law
Their motto is: – “Be Prepared”
In contributor David Derham’s years “The Original Boy Scout Creed” was:
I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God and the Queen
To help other people at all times
And to obey the Scout Law
It is not known when the first local troops were formed but we have found that a troop was present in the area around 1910, scout groups were registered with the ‘The Boy Scout Association’ in London and evidence shows that the 1st Highbridge Group had the registration number 4227 and the 3rd Burnham number 4228.
The Movement, when formed had certain guide lines, one was an age limit; scouts would be boys aged from 12 to 16. But, younger brothers, who also wanted to join this new organisation, became ‘Cubs’, starting at 8 years old and moving on into the scouts when they reached 12. To cater for the older boys those over 16, the movement formed the ‘Rovers’.
During the Great War (1914-1918) records nationally were sparse, after the war scout troops started to re-form; between the wars a meeting was held on 13th January 1931 in “Flook’s Royal Café in Burnham High Street which covered the inauguration of the Burnham and Highbridge District Boy Scouts Association. The first indications of scouting activities in this area are that in the Burnham and Highbridge District Association Directory of 1939 it states “Still only two groups in the area”. But it is interesting to note that the 3rd Burnham Troop attained its majority in 1937 and 1st Highbridge Troop celebrated its 21st birthday during 1939”. This does indicate that Scouting was present soon after the Great War.
In 1939 Scouting was again affected by hostilities, troops were again ‘stood down’ as Scout Masters and other officers were called up for active service and mothers, obviously concerned for their son(s) safety, refused to let them attend Scout meetings. Also, with father away at war, mother wanted her family around her; this resulted in a shortage of young men capable of running Scout troops after the war. It must be remembered that during the early days of the last war the Scouts were actively involved in collecting paper and other ‘scrap’ for the war effort. Also, after the war, do you remember “Bob-a Job” when lads toured the town offering their services to do jobs for local people? This was an attempt to obtain funds for the Boy Scouts Association; the only reward the boy himself got was the satisfaction of knowing he had played his part in keeping the Scout movement out of debt.
From the “Scout Handbook” 1946 it is noted that Miss Bertha Knight was a Scout Mistress, her meetings being held in the Highbridge Town Hall on a Tuesday. Three local groups were active 1st Highbridge, 3rd Burnham and 1st Brent Knoll.
In 1951 Mr, Graham S. Hayter formed the 2nd Highbridge Troop, registration No 28826 it was sponsored by Highbridge V.C. School, this meant it was controlled by the school and was not an independent troop and it was free to operate where it pleased; there were 40 members at the time. During the 1950’s the Troop went from strength to strength and collected many awards for its members. Scouts and Cubs attended camps and jamborees all over the country.
In the Census forms returned in 1956 the 1st Highbridge had disappeared However, on Tuesday 3rd November 1959 the Highbridge Scouts and Guides were devastated to find their headquarters, situated in Coronation Road had been totally destroyed by fire, its contents, which included their records plus treasured trophies and equipment were destroyed; the headquarters had been built in 1948 by the local association and many improvements had been carried out over the years. 2nd Highbridge Scouts had held its summer camp that year in Lyme Regis on the private estate of Colonel Alheuson. Normally, it stored its camping equipment in the loft of the parents of Scout John Davey. His parents had a large detached red brick house just on the junction of the Burnham end of Old Burnham Road where it meets the Burnham Road. The house still stands but most of its large vegetable garden and its eastern environs (field) towards the other end of this small loop road, has changed dramatically since those days. This was done because the HQ was not really large enough to house the ever growing inventory of camping equipment and because of the enhanced safety of it being stored away from the timber hut which was the HQ. The Scouts eventually paid the price of their slothfulness in getting this task completed after the summer camp. The members kept reminding themselves to do it, but by November it was still there when the HQ and all the equipment went up in smoke (or melted into aluminium lumps!).
The fire had started in one of the two “side rooms” (which looked out over the HQ boundary onto the house next door, of the Headmaster of Highbridge VC School, Mr. Albert Mason) where, along one wall was a line of coat hooks. A school class was in occupation on this day during which a badly behaved child was banished to the side room as a penance. It was winter, the child became cold and found an electric “open barred” fire standing under a wooden bench aligned under the row of coats which belonged to the rest of the class. The power point was too high for the cable to reach it, so the child placed the fire up on the bench under the coats, plugged it in and switched it on! The coats soon burst into flames. The rest is history. The heroism of the teacher who rescued this child from the blazing room was a matter of record.
David Derham was now working in Weston super mare as an apprentice aircraft electrician. He received the news at home on his return from work from his father and brothers assembled at the tea table. He dropped everything and rushed to the scene only to be greeted by a “sea” of embers and smoke from a few still smouldering timbers. He was devastated and remembers the emotions of the time well and the subsequent efforts of the lay members of the troop (mostly parents led by Mervyn Bamsey, who had two boys, one in the Scouts, another in the Cubs) to raise money to rebuild. As soon as they could, they went from door to door with collection tins and boxes asking for donations (to make the most of the sympathy which prevailed before it waned). Soon the site had been cleared and the new hut was delivered in sections. It was erected by the adults and painted and fitted out by many of the older Scouts, Seniors and Rovers. They had a great time building-in and wiring up the Patrol dens and the Kitchen and loos etc. There was a wonderful team spirit associated with the project which held the troop in good stead for many years afterwards. It also won the boys much respect from the people of Highbridge in general.
Following the fire the troop continued to meet, their aim now being to obtain funds so that the Headquarters could be re-built. Many money-raising events were held the Scout and Guide Associations launching appeals for funds. The Chairman of the Highbridge Scout Group Committee (Mr. M. Bamsey) confirmed at a meeting that an “all out effort” would be made to rebuild the Headquarters as soon as possible. St John’s Church had offered the Scouts and Guides use of the church hall as a temporary measure and for this the groups were most grateful.
Funds were being steadily built up from door-to-door collections and in May 1960 the Highbridge Scout and Guide Headquarters Rebuilding Fund presented a variety concert in the Town Hall, with songs from “Carousel” plus sketches by Billy Jacobs and Bob Nicholson. The Silver Stars Rock & Roll Group, a local band, provided lively music for the evening.
Following twelve months hard work by the Scout and Guide Movements, and true to their determination, a new hut was built and officially opened by Lord St. Audries on the 12th November 1960. The final cost of the new hut was £2000 and it offered more facilities to both movements.
David Derham has a few photographs of this event, including the presentation of his Assistant Scouter’s warrant and Terry Yard receiving the Troop’s first ever Queen’s Scout Award by the County Commissioner who was present at the opening and also of Gillian Fielding’s Assistant Cub Leader Warrant.
The 2nd Highbridge Troop was inspired by ITS new Headquarters and for the next few years was to win a number of trophies. In June 1960 when competing for the Koodoo Horn Competition, four members (David Dyer, David Derham, Chris Meaden, and Terry Yard) floated their homemade oil-drum raft on Apex Pit (now Apex Park Lake). It was constructed from four oil drums lashed together with a few bits of timber probably acquired from Mr Haines of Woodbury & Haines in Springfield Road, Highbridge, which company, made School furniture for Somerset’s Schools. Cecil Haines had three boys who passed through the 2nd Highbridge Troop in their time, the eldest was Roger. Planks of wood were fixed on top of the raft to allow for the pitching of a tent. They decided as an enhancement to their adventure challenge for the trophy, to spend the night in a tent on the raft; their ‘look-out’ was David Dyer who was to be on hand, encamped in his tent on the bank of the lake in case of an emergency. Originally it was intended that all four Senior Scouts would sleep on the raft and would have enough food and a primus stove on board, to cook a meal but at the last moment, they noticed that the raft was lying low in the water on one corner – one of the oil drums had sprung a leak! So they changed their plans such that David Dyer would camp onshore together with all the stores and they rigged up a ropeway from “ship to shore” in order to pass stores as required to the raft and to clear it all off when finished in order to keep the minimum weight on board and have nothing to slide off into the water during the night! They slept in relays so that at least one of the three on board, was keeping watch all the time over the sinking oil drum. David Derham had the dawn watch and said:
“I remember my watch so clearly. As the sun rose and the light came, it was a gloriously calm morning with an orange tint of the sun slowly gathering on the horizon towards Highbridge. The water was as a mirror, gleaming and flat without a ripple. Then the Swallows came. They swooped low over the water and soon I realised it was not insects they had come for that early, it was to drink. It was one of the most magic moments of nature I had witnessed in my life at the time and has remained in my memory to the present day. They flew in with ultimate height control, opened their beaks and slid the lower one into the water and as they flew, scooped up the water, leaving behind them just a fine line of disturbed water. I can still see the entire scene nearly 50 years later. Our escapade had to be inspected by the Assistant District Commissioner John Brown who was the adjudicator for the competition. I can’t recall whether he came in the evening or in the morning but he was suitably impressed that this was the best adventure by either of the three troops in his area and so we won the trophy. I think he presented it to us at the Remembrance Day Parade later in the year, when all the Scouts and Guides gathered in the market place in front of the old Railway Hotel in Highbridge. This is now the site of General Higgins House (where my father lived out his twilight years so peacefully)”.
The troop was successful, wresting the trophy from the Berrow Scout Troop, which had held it for the past two years.
Unfortunately, during the 1960’s interest in the Youth Movement appeared to wane, many organisations had very lean times with memberships declining until only the dedicated few remained. The 2nd Highbridge Troop, however, was an exception. Numbers held steady and enthusiastic members kept the scout leaders and troop busy.
David Derham ran the troop as Scoutmaster from 26th April 1963 to 1964. In his time, numbers in the scout section had held to around 12 to 14 (two Patrols of about 6/7 boys – Rhinos, Buffalos and one other when numbers allowed).
Two Cubs, now older, moved up into the Scouts and Don Mulholland became Assistant Scout Leader. When Dave retired and with more Cubs Scouts moving up into the Scouts, Don became ‘Skip’. Colin Hall (‘Squire’) joined him. Membership was still fluctuating and in order to keep the Scout Movement active and alive locally the 2nd Highbridge amalgamated with the 1st West Huntspill troop to become the 1st Huntspill and Highbridge troop. This took place in 1968 the new registration number being 38955.
At present the Troop meets regularly on a Monday evening at the Headquarters in Coronation Road; the Group Scout Leader is Sue Hunter.
RECORD OF PRIMARY SCOUT CAMPS FOR 2ND HIGHBRIDGE SCOUT TROOP – 1952 TO 1965 – Compiled by David Derham
1951 – Somerset Jamboree @ Berrow, Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset (on site of old Army Camp,
now The Retreat Caravan Site).
(SM:- G. Hayter)
2nd Highbridge Troop had only just been incorporated and had no camping gear at that time – only SM was present in an administration role)
1951 – Summer Camp @ Couch Hill Farm, Nr. Beer, Devon
SM – G. Hayter
This camp was shared with 3rd Burnham Troop.
1952 – Somerset Jamboree @ Bath (Ammerdown Park ??)
(SM:- G. Hayter)
1952 – Summer Camp @ North Hill, Minehead, Somerset
(SM:- G. Hayter)
(Lynmouth flood disaster the week previously)
1953 – Scouts cycle journey around Exmoor with about 8 Scouts, staying in three
different Youth Hostels. Bampton, Parracombe and Minehead.
1953 – Summer Camp @ Pinhay, Lyme Regis, Dorset in August.
1954 – Somerset Jamboree @ ? The Troop won the Cup for Campcraft
1954 – Summer Camp at Gilwell Park Chingford, London in July/August
(SM:- G. Hayter -his last year with the troop).
1955 – Somerset Jamboree @ Sham Castle Bath. The Troop shared the Cup for
1955 – Summer Camp @ Bleadon, Nr. Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
SM Mr. A. Brown – lived in Bleadon and unable to leave home, so Scouts
camped near his home and he watched over them from there!
1956 – Somerset Jamboree @ ?
1956 – Summer Camp @ ?
1957 – 50th Anniversary World Jamboree @ Sutton Coldfield in early August.
Scouts attending had to be to minimum standard of First Class.
2nd Highbridge sent Terry Yard, John Rummery and Chris Meaden.
Some Scouts, D. Derham included, spent two nights at Yorks Wood Camp Site
in order to visit the Jamboree for one day.
(Scouter at this time was Tom Cryer).
1957 – Summer Camp – Was there one this year ?
Scoutmaster was Tom Cryer
1958 – Summer Camp @ Yorks Wood in Birmingham in August
(SM:- Tom Cryer, ran this from his new home in Birmingham as Sec to
County of Birmingham Boy Scouts – 9/16 August, with (believe) acting ASM.’s
M. Yard and D. Atyeo).
1959 – Somerset County Jamboree @ Ammerdown (?) Park, Bath – 15/18 May
1959 – Summer Camp @ Pinhay, Lyme Regis, Dorset in August
(SM: F. W. Brierley, ASM‘s:- M. Yard and D. Atyeo – only evidence of M.
Yard at camp as SM).
1960 – Summer Camp at Horner Water near Porlock in Somerset in August. The two
Patrols were called Buffaloes and Rhinos.
(SM:- M. Yard. ASM:- D. Derham SSM:- F. Brierley)
NB. The 1st Berrow Troop was also at this Camp with SM:- Colin Vowles &
ASM ?? (tba), Also the 3rd Burnham Troop – SM not known.
1960 – Somerset Jamboree @ Taunton
(SM:- M. Yard. SSM:- F. Brierley)
1960 – Taunton & District Competition Camp on Blackdown Hills Nr. Clayhiden in
Somerset in September. Seniors won the ‘Totem Pole’ (believe this was for a
combination of Campcraft and Initiative competitions).
(SM:- M. Yard. ASM:- D. Derham. SSM:- F. Brierley)
1961 – Somerset Jamboree @ Uphill (Axe District), Weston-super-Mare, Somerset in
(SM:- M. Yard. ASM:- D. Derham. SSM:- F. Brierley)
1961 – Summer Camp @ Broadstone Warren Boy Scouts Association Camping Site
@ Forest Row in Sussex.
(SM:- M. Yard. ASM:- D. Derham. SSM:- F. Brierley)
1961 – Rover – Ranger – Senior (RO-RA-SE) Conference @ Burton Latimer,
1961 – Rover – Ranger Wiltshire Moot @ Salisbury
1961 – Rover – Ranger West Monmouthshire Conference
1962 – Somerset Jamboree @ Mells Park, Frome
(SM:- M. Yard. ASM:- D. Derham. SSM:- F. Brierley)
1962 – Summer Camp @ Dulverton in Somerset in August
(SM:- M. Yard. ASM:- D. Derham. SSM:- F. Brierley)
Malcolm Yard’s last camp – his job moved him away.
(David Derham qualified as SM in April 1963)
1962 – Rover – Ranger Conference @ Hove, Sussex
It’s theme was “The World Around Us”
1962 – Wiltshire Rover Moot 19th/20th May
1963 – Summer Camp @ Bude in Cornwall
(SM: D. Derham, ?ASM: D. Mulholland (not present) SSM:- Frank Brierley)
D. Derham’s last camp he moved away to Weston in 1964. D. Mulholland,
Cub Leader replaced him as SM.
1964 – ? Summer Camp
1965 – Somerset Jamboree @ Barwick Park, Yeovil in Somerset – usually at Whitsun
(SM: D. Mulholland. SSM: F. Brierley)
1965 – ? Summer Camp
195? – Summer Camp @ Highcliffe-on-Sea,
(SM:- G. Hayter)
RECORD OF LEADERS FOR 2nd HIGHBRIDGE SCOUT TROOP AND 1st HUNTSPILL & HIGHBRIDGE SCOUT TROOP
* = Warranted in County Records
2nd Highbridge Reg. No. 28826 was registered in 1951 – the Troop was started in May/June of 1951 and was sponsored by Highbridge V.C. School.
Scarf colour: Light blue and Dark Blue – which were the colours of the School. The Scarf design was chosen by Megan Jones (Teacher and the 1st Highbridge Cub Akela until 2nd Highbridge was formed when the pack transferred to 2nd Highbridge).
*SM Graham S. Hayter 1951 to 1955, Founder (Highbridge VC School Teacher)
ADC Albert Mason 1951 to 19?? (Headmaster of Highbridge VC School)
SM A. Brown 1955 to 1957/8 (Highbridge VC School Teacher)
SM Tom Cryer 1957/8 to 1958 (worked in Barclays Bank, Highbridge)
ASM David Atyeo 1958 ?acting ASM – NB. he is present in 1958 photo at
Yorks Wood Summer Camp & is wearing a leader’s badge in beret).
*ASM David Atyeo 1959 to 1960
November 3rd 1959 – Scout & Guide HQ burned down
*SM Frank W. Brierley 1959/60 (worked at British Cellophane, Bridgwater)
*SSM Frank W. Brierley 1960 to ?1963 (worked at British Cellophane,
ASM Malcolm I. W. Yard 1958 ?acting ASM – NB. he is present in 1958 photo
at Yorks Wood Summer Camp & is wearing a leader’s badge in beret).
*ASM Malcolm I. W. Yard 1959 to 1960 (worked in Banking in Bridgwater)
*SM Malcolm I. W. Yard 1960 to 1962 (worked in Banking in Bridgwater) left
Highbridge in 1962 to work in Banking in Minehead.
NB. County records erroneously have Malcolm as *SM(Acting) in 1963, could
this be due to D. Derham not receiving his SM‘s warrant before this year ?
*ASM David R. Derham 1960 to 1963.
*SM David R. Derham 1963 to 1964. – (worked at Bristol Aeroplane Company)
*ASSM Frank Howarth 1960 to 19?? (worked in Bristol – Draughtsman ?)
12th November 1960 – New Scout & Guide HQ opened
ASM Don Mulholland 1963 to 1964.
SM Don Mulholland 1964 or 5 to 1975 & ADC from 19?? to 1975 (worked at Burnham Radio Station – was its Overseer at some point).
From 1968, the 1st Huntspill and 2nd Highbridge Scouts merged into 1st Huntspill & Highbridge Scout Troop – Registration No. 38955
1st Huntspill & Highbridge No 38955 Registered 1968
SM Don Mulholland 1964 or 5 to 1975 & ADC from 19?? to 1975 (worked at Burnham Radio Station)
ASM Chris Hall 196? to 1975/6?
ASM Andy ?Surname 1964? to 19?? (worked at Burnham Radio Station)
ASM Ron Cathcart 1964? to 1975. SM 1975 to 1976? (worked at Radio Station – moved away)
SSM Colin McCormack ?1963 to ?
SM Peter Halls (ex- 1st Huntspill/Highbridge) ext. 1966
ASM Colin McCormack 1966 SM 19?? to
ASM Richard McCauley 1975 to 1976? SM 1976? to 19??
GSL Sue Hunter current at 2004
During research into the Scout Movement it was found that the “Cubs” have been active in Highbridge since 1915, on 1st October 1919 Miss Bertha Knight registered a Cub pack its number being 6851. The pack was well supported having 18 Cubs, it was called the 1st Highbridge and meetings were held in the home of Miss Knight, 25 Church Street. It later included Scouts and it was noted that 16 boys were in the troop in 1920. The Scout Master was Miss A.M. Wade and meetings were in Southwell House, in 1928 Miss Hilda, became Quarter Master of the Cub pack.
During the 1914/1918 conflicts the Knight sisters served with the V.A.D. Movement in Highbridge. Miss Hilda Knight after the First World War formed a pack of Brownies and later a Guide Company. In 1951/52 Highbridge V.C. School re-formed the local Cub Movement under Miss Megan A. Jones.
The Cub pack continued for some years at Highbridge but unfortunately it was disbanded during the late 1960’s.
After a break of just two years, in March 1968 Don Mulholland had restarted the Highbridge Cub pack at the Headquarters in Coronation Road with one Cub from the previous pack and proceeded to recruit members and soon had 23, before long there was actually a waiting list; Don had two assistants, Jim Whitlock and George Davison. George had returned to the area in 1968 and, having two young sons, he encouraged them to joined the Cubs; his own Scouting experiences had been from 1949 – 53 and he became a ‘civilian’ instructor to the pack but before long received his warrant as an assistant Cub Master and soon became ‘Akela’ – Cub Master. He ran this pack until 1980 when he retired his warrant after twelve years. Around this time Colin arrived to help, he was a 2nd Highbridge Scout and the team continued to run the Cub pack for three years. It was around this time that the 1st West Huntspill and 2nd Highbridge troops amalgamated.
Don Mulholland retired in 1975 after fifteen years service; in 1976 following an appeal for an assistant Cub leader Mrs. Joyce Beard joined the pack, she had had previous experience with Cub packs in the London area. She took over as leader in 1981 starting the Christmas Charity post and in the early 1980’s Joyce started Somerset’s’ first Beaver Colony (River Brue Colony) boys up to eight years old, this being one of the first in the Country, They were not officially recognised by the Scout Association, they were however, later to be accepted within the Association as a group for younger boys.
Cubs regularly take part in Community Projects such as “Britain in Bloom”, Carnival gangs and features. The first local Cub to get the Gold Arrow Award (The highest award at that time) was James Yard, he was obviously following in the footsteps of his parents who were both involved in the Scouts and Guides Movement. In 1984 for her work in the Scout Movement, Joyce Beard received the Scout Medal of Merit; this followed fifteen years of service.
(Compiled by David Derham)
*Megan A. Jones (Miss) Cub Mistress 1st Highbridge Cubs 1948 to 1951
*Megan A. Jones (Miss) Cub Mistress 2nd Highbridge Cubs 1951 to 1953
Mrs. Elizabeth J. Derham Cub Mistress 1953 (mother of David Derham)
Mrs. Millward Cub Mistress 1953
Mrs. Barbara Cryer (Tom Cryer’s wife) ?1957 to 1958
*Miss Valerie Bishop Cub Mistress 1958 to 1960
*Mrs. Valerie E. Rummery (nee Bishop) Cub Mistress 1960 to 1962
*Gillian J. Fielding Ass’t Cub Leader – ? before 1960 to ? (left before 1962)
Ivor Yard – helper to Valerie Rummery (after Gillian Fielding) in 1962
David Dyer – helper to Valerie Rummery (after Gillian Fielding) in 1962
Cub Pack Temporarily disbanded shortly after V. Rummery left – restarted
three months later.
Don Mulholland Cub Leader – early 1960 to 1966 – Pack later disbanded
Don Mulholland Cub Leader – Cubs re-started 1968 to 1975 – retired.
Became ADC Cubs during this time – see above
Jim Whitlock Assistant Cub Leader c.1968 – 19?? (? Warranted)
George Davison Assistant Cub Leader c.1968 to 1975 (Un-Warranted at first)
George Davison Cub Master 1975 – 1980
Chris Hall – ex-Scout – ‘Squire‘ to Cubs, c.1980 to 1983
Joyce Beard Assistant Cub Leader 1976 to 1981
Joyce Beard Cub Leader 1981 to 2004
(The information on both the Scouts and the Cubs was obtained from David Derham, Mrs Bourner-, the Somerset County Scout Archivist-, Don Mulholland and a number of other sources including Colin McCormack, Chris Meadon, Valerie Rummery (nee Bishop) and Malcolm Yard)
GIRL GUIDES MOVEMENT
A Miss Hilda Knight around 1918 formed the 1st Highbridge Brownies and Guides; the Brownies were registered at the Movements Headquarters in London in 1919, the Guides being registered three years later in 1922. When first formed the groups were attached to the Girls Friendly Society and, for many years met in Miss Knight’s home. With the interest and numbers growing it was decided they should set up their own separate groups and apply for formal registration.
Sir Robert Baden Powell following the success of the Boy Scout Movement founded the Girl Guide Movement. Girls had felt that they too should be able to have programmes of activities like the boys. The fellowship within the various groups encouraged all to partake in activities so that girls could develop their own personality. The programmes were both enjoyable and character building, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Lady Mave Baden Powell became the Chief Guide.
All girls when accepted into the movement must say the: –
I promise that I will do my best
To love my God,
To serve the Queen and my Country,
To help other people,
and to keep the Guide Law.
Although the Girl Guide Movement has been active in the area for many years details of their history have been difficult to obtain, it is known that the ‘Knight Sisters’ served in the V.A.D. Movement during the Great War (1914-1918). Miss Hilda Knight formed Brownie and Guide Groups upon the end of hostilities. The local group grew in numbers and as the girls started to get older Miss Knight formed a Ranger Company.
Memories of activities between the two wars is very sparse; we do know that the Guides were in existence in the 1920’s because they celebrated their 25th anniversary in 1945 with a concert in the Highbridge Town Hall in the presence of parents and friends. For their 21st anniversary in 1943 the group comprising Brownies, Guides and Rangers, presented York House Children’s Home in Burnham with a swing and a trapeze. Alongside the Girl Guide Movement there was, of course, the Boy Scouts, with Cubs and Rovers; the two groups now completely autonomous, each with its own national organisation.
In 1948, in association with the Scouts, a hut in Coronation Road became the combined headquarters. Unfortunately, whilst the hut was being used as a classroom for the St. Johns’ school, it was burned to the ground. Equipment and records were regrettably lost in the blaze; these obviously being the reason so many local records have been lost. Following the fire the Brownies met in the Methodist Hall and a room in the Town Hall housed the Guides.
Mrs. Kathleen Incledon joined the Highbridge Guide Company as a Lieutenant with Captain Kathleen Nutter in February 1959 her warrant had been signed by Mrs. Baden Powell. Captain Kathleen Nutter, who was a talented violinist, having won a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music, when twelve and become the Youth Orchestra Leader in London. During her period as Guide Captain in Highbridge she organised schemes to help the elderly, including chopping bundles of wood for their fires and other schemes to raise money for the Guides. Having erected a tent in Guide Pat Burge’s garden, the Guides were sitting in front of it and were asked by Captain Nutter if anyone had a bright idea to raise some money; and received the suggestion “We could rob a bank”.
During 1961, after much hard work organising a variety of functions, sufficient money was raised to open their headquarters in the new hut. In 1963 the 1st Highbridge Brownie pack helped to raise more than £300 towards the Highbridge Scout and Guide hut fund. The Deputy Mayor of Burnham & Highbridge, Mr. Denis Hewings made the draw and a clock was presented to the movement by some of the earlier Brownies and Guides, who had had a re-union each year. In 1965 Mr Kimber, a local boat builder, made replicas of the Scout and Guide badges in beaten copper. These were mounted on a wooden base, together with the special tools he had needed to complete the work, and presented to the headquarters as a wall plaque.
In 1969 the Brownies celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, with the Rev. Burton blessing the pennant, which was then proudly carried into church by the Brownies for a special service. The Guides held a thanksgiving service and party, their families and friends attended. Miss Hilda Knight was the guest of honour. During the 1970’s there were, throughout Somerset, waiting lists, of young girls wishing to join the Brownies. Due to limited accommodation in some areas, new enrolments were restricted. Highbridge was no exception and a second Brownie Pack was formed in January 1974, this being attached to St John’s Church.
Miss Hilda Knight died in January 1975 and in the December Brownies and Guides donated a flower vase to St. John’s Church in the memory of their friend and leader. Flowers are arranged in the vase as often as is possible. Also during the 1970’s, Mrs Pat Burge received her warrant as an Assistant Brownie Guider in May 1974, her warrant being served by the Chief Guide Mrs. Mave Baden Powell and the warrant for Brownie Guider in April 1978, resigning her warrant six years later in November 1984. A Jubilana was held in 1985 at Cheddar. This was a 75th Anniversary Camp where over 1000 guides from over fourteen countries worldwide attended the celebration. A wide range of activities had been organised for the girls including Canoeing, Hiking, Horse Riding, Dinghy Sailing, Fencing and Swimming; plus some crafts such as leather work, crochet and hand bell ringing.
The Highbridge Brownies were always ready to raise money for a just cause and it is recorded that they raised £640 for a “Blue Peter” Cambodian appeal, receiving congratulations from the Mendip Division of Guides to which they belonged.
When the Brownies and Girl Guide movement were formed over 80 years ago, many local young girls joined and we have had views from two such ‘girls’. Mrs Hilda Lismore remembers joining the Highbridge Brownie pack round about 1934, when she was “just a slip of a girl”. They had their meetings in an anti-room at the Town Hall, their storeroom, a sort of loft space, was reached by a small flight of stairs, which presented the youngsters with problems if they needed equipment.
Miss Hilda Knight their leader; she was also a teacher at the Highbridge Infants School. Hilda says the Miss Knights used to make lovely homemade sweets at their house in Church Street. Another lady who deserves a mention is Hilda King who was in the movement for 81 years. Hilda was Captain in the Guides from 1967 to 1980. She says they went camping every year and undertook a lot of tests in order to get the proficiency badges, all being thoroughly enjoyed. She had three girls who obtained 1st Class badges and were chosen from this district to attend the Lady Baden Powell celebration at Windsor. One of Hilda’s ‘young girls’ became a District Commissioner.
The Highbridge Guides and Brownies held their meetings in the Scout Hut in Coronation Road up until 1992; meetings are now held in the St John’s Church Hall, on Friday evenings.
(The information on both the Guides and the Brownies was obtained from Mrs J. Garton, Mrs P.Burge and a number of other sources)