Mandy Wicking has been Guiding since she was ten years of age and a committed Leader at 1st Lower Beeding Guide unit (West Sussex) since 1980! She has seen a countless number of girls grow and flourish through Guiding.

What attracted you to join Guides?

The Guide Leader used to go to our local Church, Holy Trinity, and she regularly asked me to join. I was a very outdoorsy person and Guiding just appealed to me!

Did you obtain any awards?

Yes, I obtained my Queen’s Guide at 16, then I went on to get my Young Leader certificate at 18 and finally, my Guider’s warrant.

What is your favourite memory?

Camping was my thing; when I joined I loved going to camp. I loved the outdoors and all the outdoor activities. Infact, I loved it so much that I’ve camped every year since I joined in 1972.

How long has 1st Lower Beeding been running for?

Since 1917 - one hundred years, ago! It is one of the oldest units in the country.

It was formed by Eva and Edith Godman. Lady Olave Baden-Powell encouraged them to set up a local Guide unit during a social call to the Godman family at South Lodge. Initially, the Guides (and Brownies) met at South Lodge and now meet at the Village Hall.

We’ve had lots of celebrations for the centenary! One at the Church and then we hosted a big tea party for eighty to ninety past Lower Beeding Guides at South Lodge (now a 5-star country house hotel).

Who are the current leaders at 1st Lower Beeding?

The current leaders are: myself, Karen Norris, Julie Sayers, Allyson West, Hannah West and Grace West – all of whom were 1st Lower Beeding Guides. You may also be interested to know that there have only been six Guide Leaders at Lower Beeding in 100 years – Eva and Edith Godman, Sophie Axford, Catherine Green, Mary Long and myself – it must be a record!

How many Guides attend the unit?

At the moment, we’ve split our Guide unit, so we have a Guides and Senior section. In total, there are about eighteen girls. Infact, we’ve got some more Brownies to come up to Guides this term.

What sort of activities do you do?

We have a wide range of activities: crafts, outdoor activities, rock climbing and canoeing - we entered the Southwater Canoe Regatta last year.

As a unit, we also went to WS 2017, which is an international Scout and Girlguiding camp, at Ardingly Showground, where we were joined by a group of Guides from France who camped with us for the week.

Have you been on any significant camps or trips?

In 1984, Lower Beeding Guides attended WS84 International Camp at Ardingly and were joined by a group from Cranbrook, British Columbia in Canada. In 1986 I took Karen and two other Guides to Canada for a return visit. It was an amazing experience. Then, in 1994, I returned to Canada with my husband and son to stay with our Guiding link. We stayed there for just over two weeks and camped in the Rockies and stayed in different parts of Canada. We are still in touch to this day.

In the Summer of 2011 Karen and I took five Guides from Lower Beeding on a County International Trip to Adelboden, in Switzerland. It had always been my dream to visit ‘Our Chalet’ (one of the Guide World Centres) and whilst in Switzerland we spent a day at Our Chalet. It was again an amazing ten days in Switzerland with Guides and Leaders from within Sussex Central County.

How has Guiding changed over the years?

In my day being a Guide was a big thing. Nowadays girls have lots of different interests, but we continue to have a number of girls that are very committed to Guiding. Infact, that is why we started the Senior section because we have a group of sixteen-year olds that don’t want to leave.

Guiding has moved with the times. There is a wider range of activities (e.g. zip wiring and the Big Gig Pop Concert at Wembley) and there are various badges which involve digital communication (e.g. Communicator badge).

Why do you think Guiding is important?

It gives girls an opportunity to be themselves and camping is a very important part of it, being in the outdoors, going out in the wild, trying new things and having fun! Also, developing friendships.

I once heard some girls, a couple of years ago, on camp say, ‘I just love being here, away from my phone and technology and being myself’.