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Thatcham brown owl retires after more than 50 years service to Guiding

5th Thatcham Brownies looking for new leader

John Herring

John Herring


01635 886633

Thatcham brown owl retires after more than 50 years service to Guiding

A THATCHAM Brownie leader has retired after spending 57 years in the Guiding movement and inspiring others to do their best.

It means that the 5th Thatcham Brownies and its 37-year history could come to an end if no one steps in to fill her shoes.

Brown Owl Denise Newport retired at Christmas.

She thanked everyone involved in her Guiding journey for their “support, patience, kindness and friendship”.

In her speech, Mrs Newport said: “Although it goes without saying, it really upsets and saddens me to think 5th Thatcham Brownies will be closing and this is not the final memories I wanted to envisage and look back on in my old age.”

The 5th Thatcham Brownies is temporarily closed and the unit has been trying to find a new leader, printing flyers and writing a letter in the Newbury Weekly News, but no one has come forward so far.

The unit has held the annual community growing a plant project, where girls grow and then plant flowers in the Broadway, which started back in 1997.

Mrs Newport has been in the movement since starting as a Brownie when she was seven years old, with the 9th Maidenhead Brownies, in 1963.

Forty-six of those years have been as a Guider or leader in the movement.

In 1974, Mrs Newport became assistant Brownie Guider for the 8th Maidenhead Brownies.

She moved to Thatcham two years later, but commuted to Maidenhead each week to be with her pack.

She set up the 5th Thatcham Brownies in 1984 and they continue to meet at Francis Baily School each Tuesday.

She was a district assistant commissioner for two five-year periods, received the good service county award in 1992 and the county standard brooch in 2013.

Mrs Newport’s long years of service were recognised at a service at Westminster Abbey in 2016.

Speaking at the time she said: “I became a Brownie when I was seven and have never left.

“I just keep finding new, fun and exciting opportunities, including making lots of new friends that make me so proud to be part of this organisation.”

Her husband Charles (Chas) also received a 30-year service award badge at a ceremony in 2018.

Writing in the NWN, former Thatcham mayor, Guider and Thatcham Royal British Legion president Stephanie Steevenson said Mrs Newport had been “able to inspire so many girls that on several occasions the pack had members who were daughters of girls Denise had led when they themselves were Brownies”.

She wrote: “Thatcham is extremely lucky to have so many willing adults who give up their own time to give enjoyment and so many challenges to so many girls and young women in our area.

“It would be tragic for 5th Thatcham Brownies to close after such a long and illustrious history, so do please consider offering your help to keep the unit going.”

Contact to register an interest and for information about Girlguiding.

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