County News

Horsham Division

Welcome to Horsham Division

Liz Forsdick – Division Commissioner

Girlguiding has been around in Horsham since it was started 110 years ago in 1910 by Lord Robert Baden Powell.

In fact one girl, Lilian Taylor, was part of a small group of girls that crashed the first Boy Scouts Rally at Crystal Palace in 1909 and bravely asked him for ‘something for the girls’.

Less than a year later he had come up with the Girl Guides and 1st Horsham Guide Company was registered in May 1910 with Lettice Arnold as its Captain.

The registration certificate was signed by Agnes Baden Powell, Robert’s sister, who he made Chief Guide.

Back then the world was a very different place, particularly for girls and young women – they were expected to wear ankle length skirts and they weren’t supposed to run, hurry, swim or ride a bike. So the idea of something like Scouting but for girls, going camping, hiking and taking part in other adventurous activities was beyond most people’s imagination. 1st Horsham Guides got their first taste of camping in 1911 and we are lucky to have a photo from back then.

The movement quickly gained popularity and units sprang up over Horsham and the surrounds as girls wanted to do their bit for ‘The Great War’. Tracking, map-reading, and farming were all important skills for a young person of the time as the young men went off to war. Baden Powell was careful not to neglect the home-making skills that were also important for girls, so the programme was extremely diverse offering badges in child nursing, domestic service, cooking and thrift, alongside poultry farming, carpentry and aviation for women.

As well as Units in the town the surrounding villages also were catching the bug. 1st Roffey Guides were registered in the summer of 1918, whilst the war was still raging, and the unit is lucky to still have the handmade Standard which was made by the leaders and the girls, and which depicts St Leonard as well as the Horsham Lion and the Sussex Martlets.

By the 1920s Girlguiding was thriving and other Guide Companies and Brownie Packs for girls aged 7-10 were formed. Those we know about from records back then include 7th Horsham Guides registered in 1929, 6th Horsham Brownies in 1921 and 2nd Broadbridge Heath Guides were formed in 1937. We can assume that the units with lower numbers e.g. 1st Broadbridge Heath, were already in existence by the time these units were registered.

Horsham got its own permanent Guide Headquarters in Denne Road in the 1930s and its very own campsite in 1964, both of which are still actively used by local units, the local community and those who visit Horsham from the County and beyond.

There is a local Guide Shop that runs in term time from the Headquarters on Saturday mornings 9.30am to 12pm.

Today, girls from age 5 to 18 attend various Rainbow, Brownie, Guide and Ranger Units in Horsham. We currently have 5 Districts within Horsham Division: Clemsfold (covering Broadbridge Heath, Warnham, Slinfold and Rudgwick); Chennells Brook (covering North Horsham and Holbrook); Chesworth (covering North East and East of Horsham); Springfield (covering Units based in the Town Centre and West Horsham) and Harwood (covering North Horsham and Roffey).

Girls from these Units take part in weekly meetings of activities both indoor and outdoor, in addition they can take part in Guiding days at both County and National level. In 2019 1st Roffey Guides were part of the County contingent taking part in the Lord Mayor’s Show in London and in 2018 some of the Guides attended the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. To celebrate 40 years of Guiding in the County Units attended a County Camp at Blacklands Farm and days out at Thorpe Park and Chessington. Some Guides and Rangers have been fortunate to travel abroad with Guiding as part of an International contingent.

Most recently, several girls have been to South Africa as part of a working team with the County, supporting the Coco’s Foundation charity.

Other girls have been elsewhere in the world on trips at Regional level such as Vietnam and Malawi.

History of Horsham Guiding courtesy of Ita Lawton – 7th February 2020

All units are run by volunteers and we always need more help to be able to offer more great opportunities to the girls and young women in our County.

If you live in one of our Districts and you or your daughter would like to join us, please register her/yourself on our main Girlguiding website.