Please read 'more' to hear from Abi and Sandy on their last day as Chief and Deputy of Girlguiding Midlands. What an amazing five years it has been. From all of us in the region - we too would like to say 'Thank You both'.
Today is my last day as Chief Commissioner. The last few months have not been what I imagined but it doesn't take away from the previous 4 ½ years during which I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting people from all over the region.
Many of you will know that we were planning to hold a leaders' event in June and then we provisionally moved this to September. Unfortunately, we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel this event due to the uncertainty of meeting in large groups. Sandy and I are very disappointed not to be able to say thank you and farewell in person but I am sure that our paths will cross again in the future.
It has been an honour and a privilege to be your Chief Commissioner, to have the opportunity to operate at a national level and be the voice of the midlands membership. I have enjoyed working with an exceptional team of volunteers and a dedicated staff team to lead the region through a period of immense change for Girlguiding.
I am taking with me some tremendous memories of wonderful events, including our commissioner conferences and weekends, international adventures such as Midlands Mayhem and Le Chateau; Large Scale events including Carnival Fever, Cosmic, Inspire, Megamix and of course Celebrate! There are so many great memories but I think standing on the stage at the Silent Disco renewing promises with 14000 members from across the region is top of the list!
We have continued to develop the region's social action projects and I will always be very proud of the MacMillan and Save the Children partnerships which together raised awareness and more than £150,000, not to mention the 30,000 badges that were earned!
We could not have achieved so much without the dedication of so many amazing people. My sincere thanks to everyone who has support me in my role, my deputy Sandy, the county commissioners, senior management team, lead volunteers, all the advisers and coordinators and our Region Manager Anne and the staff team.
My very best wishes to Clare and Jackie as they start as Chief and Deputy and to all of you as we move forward in these challenging times.
Thank you so much everyone!
Some of you will know that I am a keen walker. Thinking back over the last 5 years I can see similarities to a great 5 mile walk! At the beginning it stretches ahead and there seems plenty of time to do it but there are decisions to be made - which direction to take, who to invite to join, and what pace to go at.
Our first year was like that - our challenge was to create a Region plan and find the right structure to deliver it, then to identify the right people to take it forward. It actually took us longer than the first year, but as with a walk it is better to find a comfortable pace and ensure you are on the right path than to rush ahead. Once into the walk you begin to feel you know the direction you are taking although you come across one or two stiles which need to be crossed, but as we settled into our second year we had a full programme of events, especially some celebrating the Senior Section Spectacular such as Carnival Fever and Stateside, and looking ahead we had started to plan a major social action project with Macmillan.
As with a walk it is necessary to pause every so often and check that you are on course, and we did just that with regular reports and updates to the Trustees and occasional backtracking to get back on the best route. By the mid stage we were able to look around and enjoy all the different experiences that came our way - Cosmic, a Region Commissioner's Conference, and the Le Chateau trip to name but a few. There were one or two boggy patches to navigate through such as GDPR and Safe Space - but all too soon we realised we were nearing the end of the walk. At this stage you realise that the fun won't last for ever and you really focus on making the most of everything.
The final stages were always going to be amazing - teams trekking across Europe creating their own fairy tales along the way, the musical extravaganza which was Megamix, and the incredibly crazy but unique Celebrate before the final challenge of Covid 19 - but even that could be overcome by using newly-acquired skills to hold meetings, social events, and even deliver the Toolbox Commissioner training. With the end in sight the final stage of the walk has been a time to reflect back on so many things - events for girls, leaders, camping and glamping, trips near and far, visits from Chief Guides at the beginning and end, hot days and wet days, events big and small, gatherings for Commissioners, prospective trainers, trainers, tutors and reviewers, networking days for Advisers, rolling out new resources to peer educators, social action and Action for Change, projects such as UK Parliament Week, membership growth days, visits to Counties, recognising volunteers with the presentation of awards - and so much more.
None of this would have been possible without Abi's vision and leadership, and all of you and our dedicated staff team. I would like to thank you all, whatever your role(s), for what you do to support guiding in the Midlands.
This has been a unique experience with every moment making memories. It has been my privilege and a pleasure to be Deputy Chief Commissioner for such a fantastic Region.