Blog| Scouting for girls
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we shine the spotlight on some of Scouting’s female heroes from past and present...
The Royal – Kate Middleton
A fantastic ambassador for Scouts, the down-to-earth Duchess of Cambridge took on the role of occasional helper in 2012 and got her hands dirty when she braved the snow for leader training last winter. There was a surge in Scout volunteers in the year following Kate Middleton’s official Scouting appointment, which might well have been down to the positive power of The Duchess.
Bear Grylls called her ‘an incredible role model’ and we’d be inclined to agree.
The pioneer – Olave Baden-Powell
The First Lady of Scouting, Olave Baden-Powell, the wife of Scout Founder, Robert Baden-Powell, played a crucial role in the development of Scouting, championing its growth the world over. Olave helped create an international council following WWI to keep the Scout and Guide movements thriving and she became a legendary figure in Girlguiding when she was made Chief Guide in 1918.
Olave travelled the word to campaign for the youth movements following her husband’s death in 1941 and reportedly journeyed around the globe five times, taking over 650 flights.
The adventurer – Bryony Balen
Proving what Scouts are made of, Bryony Balen, a Scout from Nottingham, became the youngest Briton to ski to the South Pole at the age of 20.
Bryony has since become a source of inspiration and motivation for Scouts in the UK, handing out Gold Duke of Edinburgh awards and regaling Scouts with tales of her inspirational adventures. She also recently found the time to finish her geography degree.
‘The South Pole was a good first goal, but there will be many others,’ says Bryony. We can’t wait to see what she does next.
The ambassador – Julia Bradbury
Passionate about the outdoors and always up for an adventure, Scouting Ambassador, Julia Bradbury has hiked and climbed her way around Britain, Germany and South Africa and has helped encourage the nation to get off the couch and into their walking boots.
An explorer and TV presenter rolled into one, Julia’s enthusiasm makes her a number one favourite among Scouts, and she’s pretty keen on us too: ‘The Scouts are brilliant. They really give people those opportunities to experience adventure.’
The brave – Hélène Vagliano
Hélène Vagliano was a Scout Leader with the 1st Cannes (British) Scout Group before and during WWII. She became a ‘letter box’ for the allies during the German occupation of Cannes, sending and receiving messages on the activities of the German Army.
The courageous Hélène was eventually captured and tortured by the Gestapo and finally shot. She is remembered as a true hero and a street in Cannes was named in her honour.
The athlete – Victoria Pendleton
Victoria Pendleton MBE is a sporting icon and a cycling legend. A Sea Scout when she was young, Victoria swapped the water for the bike track and raced her way into the history books as one of Britain’s greatest athletes.
In 2005, Victoria she became first British female to win Gold at the cycling World Championships in 40 years. Gold medals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the World Championship in 2007 and Beijing 2008 followed and she walked away with Gold at London 2012. Pretty impressive!
The environmentalist – Katy Deacon
IET Young Women Engineer of the Year winner, Katy Deacon is a leading figure in making great use of renewable energy and has spearheaded projects for wind turbines and solar power systems for schools and colleges.
Katy, a senior engineer at Kirklees Council's energy team, is also part of the government-funded Ingenious Women scheme, spreading the message about engineering careers for women (only 8% of engineers in the UK are women).
On top of this, Katy is still an active Scout leader.
The hero – our volunteers
Scouting continues to contribute to the development of more and more girls and young women. Since 2003, our female youth membership has grown from 8% to 18%; that’s almost one in five Scouts.
Helping us achieve these amazing numbers are more than 36,000 female leaders. Giving their time to encourage and help young people experience the Scouting adventure, our Scout volunteers are the true heroes.
Join in the International Women’s Day celebrations and nominate your own Scouting legend on our Facebook page.