Beryl was born in the Forest of Dean and lived there throughout her life.
She was a Forest Guide, Guider, District Commissioner, then appointed County Commissioner - a first for Gloucestershire. She later became a Trefoil Guild member and then County President of Gloucestershire Trefoil and Chairman of County Fellowship.
But in more detail, especially as County Commissioner.
She was ready to take risks for the good of Guiding:
Beryl was good with people and had great ability to see potential in people and to appoint them to key positions - and to place her trust in them. This, linked with great powers of persuasion! I went one afternoon to see her concerning a problem in our Division. I came away as County Chairman of Training. When I asked her what the job entailed, she said ‘Not a lot,’ - I found out! There are many of you who found yourselves in the same situation and because of her confidence in you, rose to the occasion.
She was a good listener and confidante and I know that many personal as well as Guiding problems were shared with her. She was caring and concerned, a supporter of people and upheld the right and was generous with her time. She valued the time we all gave to Guiding, and when the County Youth Service was threatened with cuts because of finances, she calculated the number of hours given and what it would have cost if we were paid as youth service workers and not volunteers. It helped to save the day for the Youth Service.
As a driver she was notorious!-and there were many escapades. Returning from a County Executive meeting one night, after dropping off her passenger, she made her way home, except that she found herself off the road and rather deep in the forest. Eventually she was found by travellers, and rescued by them and husband, Colin. The travellers were invited to stay the night, but had gone next morning, leaving money for their hospitality. This happened about the time, following the resignation of Betty Jones, that she invited me to be her Assistant, or was it to be her chauffeur? We certainly travelled many miles together.
Above all, there was Beryl’s irrepressible humour, used to help us see things more clearly or to ‘prick the bubble,’ or simply to entertain. Some of you may recall the launch of the Guiding Manual to replace POR, a rule book for Guiding. It was the World Chief Guide who said we needed to free guiding from the Red Tape and replace it with Green Elastic. Beryl always tried to bend the rules if it was more helpful. To demonstrate this we had a symbolic burning of a copy of POR before handing out the Manuals -with some Green Elastic.
At a county event in the Forest, our speaker was Lady Juliet Townsend, the then Chief Commissioner. There was a degree of tension in the hall as Beryl stood on the stage, so we thought, to begin the proceedings. However, she began by saying, ‘If any of you heard that I was locked in the girls’ loos with the Caretaker last night, it is perfectly true!’ She then proceeded to open the meeting.
We had a county Weekend at Foxlease and as part of the Saturday evening entertainment there was an international element. Guiders created costumes representing various parts of the world. Beryl appeared some moments after everyone had assembled, dressed in her son’s Welsh Rugby kit and complete with cap. Everyone was helpless with laughter.
Just a little of the Humour and Fun she brought to Guiding.
However, what showed through all that she did was her steadfast Christian faith.
The Guide Association recognised work Beryl had bone in many areas of Guiding, both at home and overseas, by presenting her with the Beaver Award. This was richly deserved.
Beryl remained true to the Guide Promise made when she became a Guide, promising ‘on her honour to do her best’ and to be trusted to keep this promise. I do not believe that she ever betrayed that trust and this she expected of us all.
As Guides we learnt a rhyme which helped us remember the ten Guide laws:
A Guide is - Trustworthy. Loyal Helpful,
Sisterly, Courteous, Kind.
Obedient, Smiling, Thrifty,
Pure in Heart and Mind.
This I believe was Beryl -a true Guide and an example to us all.
We will all miss her.
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