Where have the last five and a half years gone?! I cannot believe this will be my last Blog! However, what a way to end five fantastic years with you all.
In February it was my privilege and pleasure to travel to Abu Dhabi to help them celebrate 50 years in true desert fashion!
We were delighted that the Chief Guide at the time, Valerie Le Vaillant, was able to join us and Abu Dhabi gave us both a warm welcome.
The week started with visits to all the sections, but sadly time did not allow for visits to all the units. However, we enjoyed a delightful Thinking Day Promise Ceremony with one if the Rainbow units and delicious Healthy Eating activities with another. With the Brownies we enjoyed more healthy eating activities as we Celebrated Pancake Tuesday by choosing our own pancake toppings and then working out the calories and how long we needed to exercise to burn them off!
The Guides spent an enjoyable evening making candle holders in clay followed by more singing in preparation for the main event of the week, our Desert Adventure! On Friday six coaches arrived at the huge sports complex in Abu Dhabi ready to carry over 240 excited leaders and girls, 1 Chief Commissioner and 1 Chief Guide, deep into the desert. After almost two hours we arrived at the Arabian Knights resort and prepared to party! Picnic lunches were eaten, safety instructions were given, groups were allocated and then it was off to an afternoon of fun packed activities. Val soon joined the girls taking camel rides and one lucky Rainbow got the chance to share her camel with the Chief Guide! Other girls tried sand painting or dune sledging as well as other activities. The group's rotated during the afternoon so everyone got the chance to try everything.
An Arabic feast followed the activities and soon everyone was enjoying sitting on the comfortable cushions around low level tables and trying different delicious foods, although they also served chips!. After the feast five leaders made their Promise to the Chief Guide and various awards were presented.
All too soon it was time for the last activity of the day, a campfire. It was quite the most beautiful setting for a campfire I have ever experienced. As the sun set in the desert sky behind the dunes and the fire blazed away one of the Guides, who had previously been with BGIFC in Toulouse, made her Promise and then we sang! The first song was an action song led by Val and the girls loved it. Finally, as the light completely disappeared, the girls and leaders not camping reluctantly boarded the coaches ready to return home, including the Chief Guide. However, over 100 girls and leaders remained and we continued the camp fire under the dark desert sky. Hot chocolate and biscuits were served and then a period of free time gave the girls the chance to climb the dunes in the dark, lit only by two floodlights. Several Senior Section girls climbed right to the top of the highest peak! Then it was time to cosy up in the tents and fall asleep happy and contented!
What an amazing event to experience as my last BGIFC adventure. We all had a fantastic time and took back happy memories of our day and night in the desert. I would like to congratulate the Abu Dhabi District planning team, seen here, for the hard work they put into planning and running an excellent 50 years celebration and thank Val for making the event so special by joining us.
It was a real privilege to represent Guiding at the Scout's annual St George's Day Parade and Service at Windsor Castle in April. Val Elliott, Interim Chair of Trustees and former BGIFC leader, and I were guests of Scouting and enjoyed a full day in Windsor beginning with lunch. To my surprise I found myself at lunch sitting next to Chief Scout, Bear Grylls who was there with his family! Following lunch the guests moved across the road to the castle which, much to the tourists dismay, was closed for the event. Feeling rather privileged we moved into the famous castle quadrangle where, bathed in beautiful Spring sunshine the rest of the guests were gathered against the stunning background of Windsor Castle. Then came the stirring sound of marching bands as a Sea Scout Band, together with a Guards Band, marched into the quad. They were followed by the Queen's Scouts who marched proudly across the green in front of their families and friends. Once the parade was assembled HRH The Duke of Kent arrived accompanied by The Chief Scout. They then inspected the new Queen's Scouts and met the speaker for the Service, Brendan Cox, husband of the murdered MP Jo, and their two delightful children. The Duke then took the march past as the Queen's Scouts led the VIPs through the castle and down to the Chapel Royal. It was a very special moment to walk through the castle and a privilege to be part of the very moving service that followed. It had been planned by some of the newly commissioned Queen's Scouts and was based around the theme of "Welcoming Communities". The speaker Brendan Cox, himself a former Scout, talked passionately about his voluntary work as an Explorer Scout with Eastern European refugees and of meeting Jo, herself a committed member of Girlguiding, and what their service in our two organisations meant to them. He then went on to invite everyone to support his initiative in memory of Jo, "Great British Get Together" on June 17/18th when communities are being urged to come together and welcome others in. Scouting and Guiding are promoting it amongst their members. All too soon the enjoyable day was over, but not before Val and I had enjoyed a delicious afternoon tea with our hosts. A lovely end to a special day.
This occasion was yet another fantastic experience that I have been privileged to be part of during my time in Guiding and BGIFC. It has been an amazing adventure and I have very much enjoyed sharing my experiences of travelling around BGIFC with you all through my blogs. It's with a sad heart, but hundreds of fabulous memories of warm welcomes and excellent Guiding, that I sign off and wish BGIFC every happiness and success in the future!