The 1st Barrow-upon-Soar Girls’ Brigade Company was registered on10th March 1980 at the Methodist Church by Kate Morley (Captain) and Chris Beaumont (Lieutenant). They had both been brought up in the Girls’ Brigade as their mothers were Captains. The Company began in the Loughborough District but for easier geographical links changed to the North Leicester District.
The Girls’ Brigade is an International Christian organisation linked with a church. Its aim is to help girls become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and through self-control, reverence and a sense of responsibility, to find true enrichment of life. The Brigade motto is “Seek, serve and follow Christ.
The Brigade is divided into age group sections:- the Explorers are 5 – 8 years, the Juniors are 8 – 11 years, the Seniors are 11 – 14 years and the Brigaders are 14 – 18 years. The leaders are the Warrant Officers, Lieutenants and Captains who must be over 18 years and fully trained. The girls and officers wear a uniform which has slight variations to show the different sections.
The programme is wide and balanced under the headings of Spiritual, Educational, Social and Physical. These form the core of the badge work and each girl will complete activities to be tested under each of them annually such as first aid, learning to use sign language, Bible drama, making puppets and using them to perform a small musical, “The Moses Suite”. There are also many activities just for fun.
The Company has kept a membership of about 26 throughout its time. It has been well supported by colleagues who have trained as officers and given their time and expertise for the girls:- Marie Slater, Jo Coston, Irene Murray, Marilyn King and Brenda Orton. Officers have also been commissioned who began as 5 year olds in the Company and worked their way through to Lieutenants. Lisa Morley is now involved in youth work in Swindon, Sarah Morley is with a Girls’ Brigade Company in Cambridge and Michelle Beaumont continues to work with the Company in Barrow.
The Company works closely with the Church and takes part in the Loughborough Youth Arts Competition. The girls will colour, paint, sew, bake, make models, collages, miniature gardens, flower arrangements, write poetry, do bible readings, play solo instruments, solo singing and sing as a choir. The Company is grateful to Joan Thursby who has been “choir mistress in residence” and has trained the Company to sing together, mixing a wide variety of voices to perform as a choir and to win competitions.
The Company takes part in regular parades both in Barrow and in North Leicester along with other Companies. The annual Parade is with the North Leicester Boys’ Brigade at Hesketh House in Leicester.
At these parades ceremonial uniform is worn which at the moment is in transition to a more upto date style.
In 1980 the Company was invited to take part in the village Remembrance Day Parade. At this time there were problems getting a band to lead the parade so the Company decided it would form a band. Fund raising events were organised, plus a grant given by the Parish Council made it possible to buy instruments and the task of training the girls and officers to play them was in the hands of Jeanie Widdowson. With the help of Clive Handley and John Cave the Company were able to lead the Remembrance Day Parade in 1981.Clive continues to train the band today. As soon as a girl is willing to learn she is taught to play the drum even if she is unable to carry it. They have been so enthusiastic to play on parade that they have been prepared to suffer sore shoulders and bruised legs in order to do so. There are still problems learning to play bugles.
In 1990 Catherine Hickling and Lisa Morley were invited to represent the Girls’ Brigade at the Queen Mother’s 90th Birthday Parade in London.
The Company have annually attended the Girls’ Brigade Annual Rally at the Royal Albert Hall and enjoyed meeting members from all over the country and taking the opportunity to spend a day in London.
The Company has provided the opportunity for girls over the age of 14 to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Activities have involved working closely with the Police and Fire Brigade and being trained for and taking part in camping expeditions in wild country. Some girls have worked at Bronze and Silver levels and four girls, Catherine Hickling, Lisa Morley, Michelle Beaumont and Sarah Morley have gained the Gold Award and have been rewarded by receiving their awards from the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Place or St. James Palace