SAGF Newsletter: Summer 2024 Edition

Welcome to this edition of the Newsletter. There seems to have been little in the way of summer weather in the UK so far this year, so we are looking forward to some late summer sun in September when a few of us will be attending the ISGF World Conference in Granada. We will be meeting up with friends from around the globe and our Spanish hosts have planned lots of activities and trips so we get a flavour of the culture, history and Scouting and Guiding traditions of the area around Granada and Andalucia.

Look out for a report of our adventures in the next newsletter, but for now, here is an update on what has been happening in the first half of 2024

It is with great sadness that we must announce the death of one of our long standing members. Diane Haigh from Isle of Man passed away on 21st June.
She was very involved with Brownies and Guides and volunteered at Waddow Hall on many occasions. She was also a committee member.
Our thoughts are with her family. She will be sadly missed.

Message from the Chairman

Dear Friends, thank you for inviting me to Chair once again the SAGF Committee. I encourage all members to continue supporting our work and in particular our current projects. We have now received a legacy from Peter Short who passed away last year. In his memory we propose to seek permission to plant an oak tree at the Scout premises the House on the Hill in Newcastle at which he was a Trustee. Some of us remember our AGM there a few years ago.

We wish Helen, Katharine and Jane a pleasant trip to the ISGF World Conference in Spain in September, the first face to face meeting for members since Covid. We look forward to their report.

Meet The New Committee

At our AGM in March we said a heart-felt “Thank You” to Muriel Rayner and Jane Wardropper for their six years of service on the SAGF Committee, and all the work they had done as Chairman and Secretary respectively. We presented each of them with a rose aptly called “Fellowship” (by David Harkness Roses), hopefully by now they are starting to flower and the beautiful orange flowers are cheering up their gardens.

Alan Beavis OBE and Katharine Diver joined the committee, Alan (pictured above) taking the role of Chairman and Katharine formally accepted the role of Treasurer, a post she has been kindly covering since the sad loss of Peter Short last year. Audrey MacNaughton remains our Membership Secretary, Helen Watson has accepted the role of Secretary, and Margaret McColm is our other elected Committee member. Our co-opted helpers are Diane Haigh looking after meeting minutes, Kim Melhuish taking care of publicity and our Facebook page and Sue Beavis doing a sterling job of keeping our web pages on-track.

Our Annual General Meeting Speakers

In March this year we held our Annual Meeting at the home of the Shrewsbury Railway Heritage Trust; the restored Shrewsbury Abbey Railway Station has just received a red plaque from Transport Heritage. The station was the home of the Shropshire Montgomeryshire railway which closed in 1933 but was rebuilt during WW2 to carry ammunition to a Depot at Kinnerley.

After the “business” part of the AGM, those of us present at the atmospherically restored Station were joined by other members via zoom to listen to our two inspiring speakers.

Our speaker for the morning session was Ravi Pooni a Guide Leader and Trefoil member from Smethwick, who was selected for The Trefoil Guild Topaz (Trefoil Oversees Partnership, and Adventure with Zest) visit to Thailand with other Trefoil Members, to promote Guiding and Trefoil Guild throughout the Region. She gave us a superb presentation about her travels and was very enthusiastic about Guiding and Trefoil. 

Her manner caught us all with her earnest promotion of the reasons for the trip and encouraged us to apply for other visits. Ravi is keeping in contact with one of the orphanages she worked with in Thailand, and SAGF gave her a donation to help continue the work the TOPAZ team started during their visit.

In the afternoon we welcomed Steve Smith a Scouter from Shrewsbury who told us about his experience on the Service Team at the world Jamboree in South Korea. You may all remember news reports of the camp having to be evacuated, Steve told us the story from the eyes of a volunteer and we soon realised that the media like to make “mountains out of molehills”!

Despite unprecedented temperatures and the threat of a typhoon forcing last minute changes of plans, it appears that the South Koreans stepped up to the task of evacuation and made the Jamboree a success for those who were evacuated to a city. There were so many activities for them put together at the last minute. They really rose to the challenge. The next Jamboree will be held in 2027 in Poland.

Updates On Our Projects

Our twinning with the Ugandan Kampala Baden Powell Guild is continuing, and SAGF has provided the funds for the rabbit breeding project that the Mityana Scouts are undertaking. There is also the possibility of a further project in one of the refugee camps, the Committee will share details once they are finalised.

Funds raised from the Commonwealth Challenge badge sales and donations have been passed to the Girl Guides Association of Tonga to help them restart their Guiding programme after last year’s volcanic activity on the islands.

This year we are supporting our Danish counterparts, the Sct. Georgs Gilderne, in their project called “Reach Out” which is raising awareness and providing teenaged girls with reusable hygiene items, so they don’t have to miss school one week in every month. You may have seen recent news coverage of the huge areas of eastern Africa that have been devastated by very severe flooding.

The project is currently providing sanitary supplies for girls in Sri Lanka and the hope is that this will be extended to support girls in India, working with WAGGGS representatives from the Sangam World Guiding Centre. If you would like to contribute to the project, please ensure you add “Reach Out” or “Denmark” to the description of any money you transfer to the SAGF bank account, so we can ensure it is passed on.

You may have seen recent news coverage of the huge areas of eastern Africa that have been devastated by very severe flooding. The SAGF Committee have been in touch with the World Scout Parliamentary Union Kenya branch to see if we can help support some of the relief work the Scouts are doing for people in the informal townships who have literally seen their homes and possessions washed away. We are finalising the details and will be sending out more information on the project shortly, but again, if you would like to make a donation into the SAGF bank account, please ensure it is marked for “Kenya” so we can send the support to the right place.

Dates For Your Diary

The year after the World Conference is set aside for sub-regional Gatherings, the more informal get-togethers which give us a chance to renew friendships and meet new people whilst learning about the country
and culture of the host countries.

The Europe Region Gatherings next year are –

  • 6-9 June 2025 Nordic Baltic Gathering at Tonsborg in Norway (just south of Oslo)
  • 10-14 October 2025 Western Europe Gathering at Bergeijk in the Netherlands (south of Eindhoven)
  • 31 October to 6 November Southern Europe and Mediterranean Gathering in Tunisia

Please don’t forget to let the Committee know if you are going to attend any of the overseas events so we can keep you in the loop as the host countries send out their newsletters and booking information.