On being a Brownie

Today I’ve got something different for you, a guest post from Lindsay who blogs over at Latte Lindsay where she promises ramblings over coffee. I’d asked Lindsay to share more about her Brownie experience, as I too was a Brownie growing up, and loved it. Some might say I was even a bit of a Brownie swot earning twenty five badges, and the twenty fifth in 1977, Silver Jubilee year - cue my photo in the local newspaper.

So when Lindsay’s post arrived, and I read her first sentence I was a little shocked and surprised, as her experience was quite different to mine, however I soon realised we had a shared love of badges, and of history.

And of course, not everyone can have the same experience, or feel the same way about the same things, and that’s healthy, so over to Lindsay…

“This is a very unpopular opinion but I hated being a Brownie. I could blame the uniform, the involvement with the church or any number of things. But the simple fact was that the lady who was Brown Owl of my group was a mean old lady who wouldn’t even let us out to use the bathroom. I hated it but my dad made me go. He thought I needed friends, which he was right about, but I could have made friends at ballet class too if he had let me go to that instead. The only time we got peace from the Big Bad Bird was when we were doing badge work. So when it came time to work on new badges, everyone threw themselves into their projects and tried to take on as many badges as they could at once. This is how I discovered my love of history.

Photo by  Melissa Askew  on  Unsplash

“Growing up in Newtownards is a bit surreal because the history is not something that people are proud of. The town has been stripped down and remade 100’s of times from the first settlements in the Iron Age. Yep, that is how far the history of the town can be traced back. There are old buildings that just exist, you can walk in and out of the Old Abbey in Movilla which was the place that Finnian brought one of the first Bibles to in Ireland. Just wrap your head around that for a moment. A place to massive cultural significance and I can walk into it at anytime. But why aren’t we talking about this and the history of the town? Simple, the wounds from the First World War still hurt.

“When news of the War in Europe broke, the men of Newtownards and the surrounding areas were some of the first to enlist. Hundreds of men dropped everything and went to the trenches. During 1916, the Battle of the Somme saw some of the worst casualties in the war and was highly criticised by the Ministry of Defence. At the front of the offensive was the 36th Ulster Division, over 130 of the 60,000 that were lost were men from Newtownards. Ever since the news of that mass slaughter reached home, the town ached from the pain of losing so many sons. Since then, no matter how good something was about the town, it pales in comparison to the feeling of loss. It has only been the dawn of the new millennium that wounds have finally begun to heal and people have begun to celebrate the good stuff from the towns past and present.

“Although I am not a big fan of my Brownie experience, I cannot deny that it did me some good. If it wasn’t for my dad choosing the history badge for me to work on, I never would have learnt about the hidden history of my sleepy little town and the dark secrets that have been hidden from the outside world.”

Lindsay was raised in Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland where she discovered how the unremarkable history of the town shaped everything that she knew. She studied at Movilla High School in Newtownards and remains active there as a parent. She is currently a freelance writer who has worked locally and nationally with various papers. She discovered her love of history after her father made her take part in the Brownie Guides history badge project. She is currently working on various projects including her blog, lattelindsay.com and her fantasy novel series.

Thanks for sharing this today Lindsay, and I hope your projects and fantasy novel series go well, and doesn’t it just go to show how something quite unrelated can spark an interest you never knew you had?