Female Scout leader is finally recognised

It has been a special year for a family in Worthing as their late relative, who co-founded the Scout movement with Robert Baden-Powell, has finally been recognised for her inspirational work.

Wednesday, 21st September 2016, 12:19 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:39 am
Angela Browne (left) and Mary-Rose Barclay Willis holding a photograph of their late relative, Vera Barclay
Angela Browne (left) and Mary-Rose Barclay Willis holding a photograph of their late relative, Vera Barclay

This December marks the 100th anniversairy of the Cub Scouts and the family have already been to a string of celebratory events, to celebrate the life of the British pioneer of Scouting, Vera Barclay, who they said received ‘no credit for the work she did’.

Angela Browne, 56, of Brooklyn Avenue, Worthing, said it feels fantastic for her great-aunt, known as ‘Aunt Bay,’ who lived in Felpham in her later life, to be finally recognised.

She said: “We are very proud of her and so pleased she has been recognised.

“She lived in a man’s world and I hope this shows women should be recognised and not stripped of their identity.”

As the first female Scout leader, Vera joined the movement in 1912 when she was 19, and started working with the Scout troop in her village.

She received calls from younger children, which led her to form the first Hertford Heath Wolf Cub Pack. She later became the first woman to hold a leading role in the Scouting headquarters.

The Scout mistress also wrote up to 50 books and was an enthusiastic tobogganist – being one of the few females to tackle the Cresta Run in the Swiss Alps, at a time when it was unusual for women to wear anything but long dresses.

Mrs Browne and her mother, Vera’s niece, Mary-Rose Barclay Willis, 84, of Alinora Crescent, Worthing, attended the ‘Cubjam’ in Gilwell Park, the Scout’s headquarters in Chingford, London, on June 2.

The event saw Cubs and adults from all over the UK come to celebrate the 100-year anniversairy.

The family were also invited to the rededication of their relative’s grave in Sheringham Cemetery, on August 23 .

Mrs Browne was looking for her great-aunt’s Silver Wolf award and was put through to the Scouts Archive and from there was invited to the celebrations.

However, Angela and Mary-Rose say December will be the most exciting, as the duo are set to attend The Palace of Westminster and possibly another venue in London, which is to be confirmed.

Emma Rushton, from The Scout Association, said it was ‘particularly pleased’ to be able to celebrate the life of Vera Barclay – a woman who was instrumental in getting younger people involved in Scouting.

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