AS the Brownies celebrate their centenary this year, Abbey Hartley talks to a Stourport woman who has had a lifelong association with the organisation.

SUE Crowther, 60, who lives in Stourport, has been involved with the Brownies for more than half a century.

“I began as a Brownie when I was seven years old at Stourport’s Methodist unit. I then went onto Guides and after that I became a Pack Leader.”

Mrs Crowther was later promoted to Assistant Leader, followed by Brown Owl at 1st Areley Kings.

The ex-Brownie explains how the uniform has evolved over time:

“When I was a Brownie we had dark brown dresses and your badges were sewn onto them.

We found that you grew out of the dress quickly but couldn’t change it because of your badges. Now there are sashes to display them on.”

Mrs Crowther says there is now a lot more choice with what parts of the uniform Brownies can wear:

“It’s stopped being called a uniform and is referred to as Brownie wear instead. It’s because the girls can choose between trousers, skirts and shorts.”

This year marks the Brownies’ 100th anniversary, after being founded in 1914.

Mrs Crowther explains how Agnes Baden-Powell, the Founder of Brownies, named the association after magical creatures which helped around the house.

“Originally, Brownies were separated into pixies, elves, fairies and gnomes” says the former Brown Owl.

“Now the girls are encouraged to choose from woodland animals, like a hedgehog or squirrel.”

She continued to say how the growth of technology has impacted on the Brownies:

“Nowadays there’s a computer badge, which obviously didn’t exist 50 years ago when I was a Brownie.

There used to be a printed Brownie magazine, but those stopped once they all started going online.”

Four years ago, Mrs Crowther moved from Brownies to Rainbows. However, she will still be involved with the Brownies’ centenary:

“There’s a badge especially for Rainbows to help the Brownies celebrate. So we’ve got challenges to do that link us to the occasion.”

The Rainbow Guider explains that she will be taking a back seat role in years to come:

“The girls really respond to somebody younger. As much as I love being with them, I haven’t got as much energy as I used to and they like you to join in with the games.”

After being involved with Girl Guiding for most of her life, Mrs Crowther says:

“Every year has been a pleasure working with the association. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my time any other way.”

Photo caption: Mrs Crowther with a former Brownie sash, pack dolls and pennant, used prior to 1980 before the flag was introduced.