James Cook Tall Ship BP Challenge Weekend June 2013

BP Challenge Weekend James CookLeaders can have a great time too! I helped on a NEE BP challenge weekend with a difference – we sailed on the James Cook tall ship! I drove up to Newcastle on the Friday evening and met another leader and 10 girls, none of whom I had met before. That’s the great thing about Guiding, you might not have met before but you know you already have something in common. We settled in on board and got to know the 5 crew members and each other.

The sleeping conditions were what you might call ‘cosy’ (just remember not to sit up quickly!) but were comfortable and adequate for a good night’s sleep. On Saturday morning we sailed up the River Tyne into Newcastle to show ourselves at a charity event before sailing back down river and going out to sea. There was a large swell and not much wind so it was a little unsettling and a few people turned a funny colour!

We headed down the coast and berthed in Hartlepool marina where we had showers, tea and free time before bed. The wind was much stronger on Sunday which made the journey back up to Newcastle much more exhilarating and quicker.

Everyone was involved in all aspects of life on ship, from cooking and cleaning to pulling up sails and taking a turn at the helm. We learnt lots of nautical terms and knots such as heaving and sweating, OXO knots and mizzen sail. The girls said that they had all enjoyed it and I certainly did.


Rebecca Norton

Leader, 130th Guides, Sheffield

Rainbows and Brownies go Wild at Beamish

Sunday 19th May 2013

It was a quiet, misty and murky morning at Beamish, and then 200 Rainbows and 66 Brownies arrived from near and far – Wow.  Their chatter, excitement and expectant faces were a sign of the fun to come.

They all met together in the stunning Winter Garden for a welcome and brief from Alex the site manager, then off they all went to their activities…. Shelter building, archery, zumba, low ropes, treasure hunt, climbing, birds of prey, bugs and stuff, a Magic show and lots more…….  there was a buzz, laughter and chatter.

The girls went from session to session with a break for lunch and then the sun came out.  The sessions continued as the temperature rose; coats came off, jumpers came off and we all enjoyed a beautiful summers day.

Brownie giving Rainbow a helping handAt the end of the event, everyone met in the winter gardens to say thank you and receive their goodie bags – what a surprise everyone had, an exciting day, AND goodies to take home!

We wondered whether the day may be too tiring for the Rainbows……… well was a silly thought!!!!  The girls (and leaders) didn’t seem to want to go home.  The girls enjoyed running on the grass and some groups stayed longer to enjoy the adventure playground, there wasn’t any nodding off on the bus home either.

All in all Rainbows and Brownies love Adventurous activities and going Wild.

Rainbow Outdoor Adventure Day at Bradley Wood

If you went down to the woods on Saturday 11 May – you were in for a big surprise!  The region’s Rainbows, and some young Brownies, had staged a takeover and were trying out all manner of adventurous activities in the great outdoors.

Rainbow Outdoor Adventure DayAfter two years of planning for this Rainbow outdoor adventure, the day had finally dawned.  The weather forecast wasn’t great, but in true Guiding fashion that didn’t seem to put anyone off, as over 200 girls arrived at Bradley Wood, full of excitement for the day ahead.  (A similar event was held at Beamish Wild on the 19th May 2013, as the area covered by the region is so large, making sure that as many girls as possible could take part.)

Divided into groups, the girls enjoyed two zones of activities, plus a break for lunch!

Zone One:  

Low ropes – tyre swings, rope bridges and more

Gift shop – always popular, with lots of happy Rainbows exiting clutching bags of goodies and sweets

Craft – making bug houses from sticks and cardboard tubes, as well as pipe cleaner caterpillars on twigs

Assault course – cheered on by Sarah, one of the volunteers helping with the day, girls got muddy crawling under scramble nets, through tubes and balancing over planks of wood, as well as climbing through an elastic spiders web

The Cresta run – sledging down a track

Archery – enjoyed by all, the region now has lots of budding archers!

Zone Two:

Bouldering wall – participants donned helmets and had fun traversing the climbing wall in the Jubilee Centre


Story telling

Nature trail – girls went on a walk through the wood, learning about the animals and plants they could see

Shelter Building – with the help of Young Leader Emily, many fantastic shelters were built with twigs and leaves for added camouflage

Cave trailer – the girls put on helmets with head lamps, crawled through tunnels, climbed up walls and finished with an exit down a slide

Craft – butterflies and caterpillars were made from pipe cleaners, pompous and beads and each girl made a fluffy bug welly peg.Rainbow Outdoor Adventure Day

As well as the adventurous activities, Young Leader Hannah & Guide Rainbow Helper Charlotte took turns to entertain the girls dressed as Rainbow Olivia – which had everyone smiling!  The day finished with a campfire run by the Bradley Wood team, and the girls still had just enough energy to sing and shout to all the action songs.

It was lovely to see so many happy but tired faces as the girls (and their leaders!)  left to make the journey home. And the weather forecasters were wrong! We had no thunderstorms, just a couple of quick showers, and most of the day was in sunshine and blue skies.

Many thanks to all the volunteers from Guiding and Bradley Wood who helped make the day so successful, and we hope the girls from the other end of the region had an equally fantastic day at their adventure at Beamish Wild.

Fiona Roberts

To view more pictures from this event please go to our Flickr albums

North East England Annual Review 2013

Girlguiding North East England members gathered on 27 April and the prestigious Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield for their Annual Review. We were incredibly lucky to be allowed to meet at in this incredible hall and we owe it all to the County Commissioner for Girlguiding Sheffield Julie MacDonald, who is the Mistress Cutler. Julie’s husband is the 374th Master Cutler and holds this important office for a year. As Mistress Cutler Julie has an incredibly busy year and we are very grateful to her for including Girlguiding North East England in this way.

Brenda Parkes our President opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to the Annual Review. First to speak was Chief Commissioner Hilary Cooper. Hilary likened Growing Guiding to her treasured plants and was delighted to report that not only had the plants grown but guiding numbers in the Region had for the first time topped 60,000! This is an incredible achievement reflecting an increase of 8000 across the UK in the last year. Hilary went on to talk about her defining moment and how her first Guide Camp had been so significant. She hoped that the defining moments in the lives of many of our younger members would also be shaped by guiding.

The Region was very pleased to welcome Chief Guide Gill Slocombe once again. Gill has visited the Region several times since she took office and she said that she was “in awe of the things that you as a Region do.” In her speech she outlined some of the key moments of the last year in guiding at a national level. She reported that CHQ were “going into the hotel business”, referring to the planned arrangement to sure the London building with a hotel group to gain a substantial income which will be used to further guiding in the future.

Gill then said how delighted she had been by the appointment of Julie Bentley the new Chief Executive of Girlguiding and the very good reaction her appointment had received in the press. She referred to the “Say no to Page 3” campaign and said how refreshing it was that the initiative had come entirely from the Senior Section who had lobbied the adults to sign the petition and give backing to the campaign.

Gill also said how much she was looking forward to to next year’s celebrations for the Big Brownie Birthday. She concluded by saying how lucky we were to enjoy so much beautiful countryside in North East England giving girls the chance to explore and develop. She thanked all volunteers for their hard work.

It was now the opportunity of Julie MacDonald to give a talk on the Cutlers’ Hall and her role as Mistress Cutler. She welcomed everyone to Sheffield and pointed out that this year was the 100th anniversary of the discovery of stainless steel. In honour of this she presented the Chief Guide and the Chief Commissioner with souvenirs of the occasion. She explained that for many years before Sheffield became a borough the Master Cutler was its most senior citizen and she told us about the many ceremonial events that entailed. She also told us about the Mistress Cutler’s Challenge. She was organising the Challenge in an attempt to raise £150,000 for Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Rarely have we be treated to a more informative and at the same time entertaining talk – at times even hilarious!

In the afternoon Julie took members on a tour of the building and as an archivist of the hall her knowledge was second to none. There was however a rival attraction and a professional chocolatier was on hand to give a demonstration and master class to some very eager members!

All in all a wonderful day out and thanks must go to Gillian Ainsley, Julie MacDonald, Hilary and her deputies and the Region Office staff for making it possible.

See photos of the review on our Flickr page.

North East England 40th Birthday Challenge

1st Egglescliffe Brownies have just completed a litter pick as part of their North East England 40th Birthday Challenge.

Birthday Challenge

We held a Pirate themed sleepover the previous night but the girls still managed to get up next morning to pick over 300 pieces of litter from around Egglescliffe Village and tidy up the garden outside the Hall.

Thanks for a great challenge which has provided loads of programme ideas – particularly liked making pizzas and armpit fudge

Baden Powell Adventure on the James Cook yacht – Sept 2012

Learning to sail on board the James Cook is a once in a life time experience that if you ever get a chance to do, is a must. You are welcomed on board by a very enthusiastic crew who lead you through the experience of learning to sail on a world class sailing boat. Life on board is not the frills and fancies that you are used to.

James Cook

You get issued with all the safety clothing and briefings that you need to stay safe while out on the open sea. You are led by a watch leader who helps to explain your duties on board the boat, where you are taught to put up sails and through the time that you are on board you are given the opportunity to helm the boat on a set given course.

Challenger sailing event – Sept 2012

Following the success of the challenger sailing event in 2011, Girlguiding North East England chartered all four of the Tall Ship Youth Trust’s challenger ex-round the world racing yachts and invited members from other regions/countries to join our event.

Challenger 2012

Consequently we were joined by Senior Section members and leaders from South West England, Anglia, LASER, North West England, Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland. The report below is based on the blogs that were written by each yacht during the voyage.

To read the full blog reports visit

NEE International Trip to Our Cabana, Mexico – Aug 2012

Our adventure began in September 2011 when we all attended the selection weekend in Sheffield. Before we embarked on our ‘great’ adventure to Mexico we had a couple of ‘getting to know each other’ weekends in York which included a trip to a Mexican restaurant to sample some new dishes.

The ‘great’ adventure started at Manchester airport – an early start, with a stop off in Paris – but we were unable to stray out of the airport then on to Mexico. Arrived in Mexico and was greeted warmly by out Tour Guide Jorge – number 15 in our ‘sound off’, who stayed with us till Our Cabana.

Our first stop on this epic journey was in Mexico City, where we had a couple of days to take in the sights, to see the largest flag in their Presidential Square plus we all had our photos taken in front of a statue of angel wings – not sure we are all angels. From Mexico City we travelled to Acapulco for a 4 night stay in the Hotel Copacabana and yes the Barry Manilow song played on a loop all day.

Whilst in Acapulco the girls released baby turtles into the Pacific Ocean during a visit to a turtle sanctuary, had a traditional meal at a restaurant beside the ocean, watch the famous cliff divers and visited John Wayne and Jonny Weissmuller’s hotel The Pink Flamingo. I did feel my age as most of the girls didn’t know who they were. Jorge informed us that a TV camera crew had filmed us as they thought tourism had come back to Acapulco as we were the only Europeans in the city and it had been shown on local and national stations.

We next travel to our final destination – Our Cabana where we were greeted like long lost friends. After showing us to our accommodation and having the induction talk, the girls embraced all the programme could offer – crafts SSM (its secret) and the various sessions on offer – Salsa lessons etc. The one the girls eagerly waited for was the service project when the local children came to visit – our craft was to decorate masks which the children did with gusto.

The girls would have like longer with the children but that was not to be. The trips out were very successful with lots of good things being brought to take home – one girl brought 3 sombreros and managed to get them all on the plane at no extra charge.

Curtain Up 2012 – Aug 2012

The courage of Belle in standing up to both Gaston and to the Beast would indicate that, had she “lived” two hundred years later, she had a background in Guiding!

Belle had many of the character traits that Baden-Powell sought – self-reliance, independence, intelligence and an adventurous spirit with a great deal of initiative. She dreams of adventure in “the great wide somewhere” and would have found it in a field, with friends, in Guiding.

This made Disney’s Beauty and the Beast a very appropriate choice for 2012’s Curtain Up. 87 members of Girlguiding North East England came together over the weekend of 31st August to 2nd September to work and play hard to produce another amazing spectacular on the Sunday afternoon.

Curtain Up 2012