Guiding exhibition a fitting tribute to town’s ‘Brown Owl’

Mary Waters ANL-140909-112207001
Mary Waters ANL-140909-112207001

An exhibition of Guiding memorabilia is being held in Spalding’s Ayscoughee Hall Museum as a tribute to Mary Waters, for nearly 50 years a ‘Brown Owl’ in the town.

The exhibition will run until September and will include a written tribute to Mary – who died earlier this year – which we have published below.

“After a difficult childhood, coping with her disability and losing her father at five-years-old, Mary moved with her mother and brother to Church Street, Spalding.

It was here, in 1937, that the vicar suggested that Mary and her mother meet the Guide Captain with a view to joining the Girl Guides.

The next week, the Captain picked up Mary, aged 13, in her Austin 7 car. Mary was put in the Bullfinch Patrol and spent the evening watching the girls doing drill and dancing.

She wasn’t sure if this was for her but after spending the following week outdoors building small fires and cooking dampers, Mary was hooked. She did well at Guides and gained many homemaker badges and loved camping.

At 16, Mary joined the Rangers and was asked to help out at 2nd Spalding Brownies, becoming Brown Owl in 1947, a position she held for nearly 50 years. She met many VIPs including Lady Baden Powell.

Mary was presented with the very first Good Service Award by the County in 1969 for her loyalty, hard work and dedication. In 1973 she was also presented with the high honour of the movement’s Laurel Award.

From 1978 until 1988 Mary was district commissioner for Spalding, cycling all over the huge district visiting all the Brownies, Guides, Rangers and Leaders as well as the new Rainbow Unit.

In 1988 Mary was given the Paul Harris Award by South Holland Rotary Club in recognition of her youth work.

Mary played an important part in all the Spalding gang shows, put on by the Scout and Guide movement. She was the wardrobe mistress and made the most wonderful costumes with her sewing skills.

She remained an active member of the movement in the South Holland Trefoil Guild and helped out at Holbeach Brownies. She had been president of Spalding District for many years and Ambassador for 1st Spalding Guides.

Baden Powell wrote: “I often think that when the sun goes down, the world is hidden by a big blanket from the light of heaven, but the stars are little holes, pierced in that blanket by those who have done good deeds in this world.

“The stars are not all the same size, some are big, some little, and some have done great deeds and others have done small deeds, but they have made their hole in the blanket by doing good before they went to heaven.”

Mary must have made a very, very, big hole in that blanket!