Girl Guides tribute to member

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Girl Guides across Aberdeenshire are set to host a double celebration at the Guide House in Fyvie, commemorating the purchase of the building by a former member.

Members of the Guides will be present at the Open Day on Saturday, June 9 to unveil a plaque to the late Alison Catto, who was instrumental in the purchase of the Guide House, which was formerly a hospital.

Visitors will also be invited to browse stalls and learn about the Guides at the free event.

There will also be a raffle, and facepainting and removable tattoos for youngsters at what promises to be an interesting family event running between 2 and 4pm. It is further hoped that the day’s activities will attract members of the public with a connection to the building - whether through the guides, or from its time as a hospital.

Organiser Lynn Cleaver told the Times that the Open Day served a dual purpose: to celebrate 45 years at the Guide House, and to commemorate Mrs Catto, who had been so critical to its establishment.

“It will be forty five years since the Guide House was opened by Sir Ian Forbes-Leith and therefore also a fitting occasion to pay tribute to a very special lady,” she said. “Without Mrs Alison Catto, there wouldn’t be a Guide House in Fyvie. The highlight of the afternoon will be the unveiling of a plaque in her memory.

“Since it’s opening in 1967 hundreds of Guide Units and Brownie Packs have enjoyed holidays at the Guide House. Camps and Pack Holidays are an integral part of Guiding, primarily for having fun but also encouraging the girls to make new friends, learn new skills, to work together as a team and to grow in confidence.”

The Aberdeenshire Girl Guide Association purchased what is now known as Fyvie Guide House from the North-East Regional Hospital Board in November 1965 at a cost of £2000. Mrs Catto, County Commissioner at the time, was instrumental in the purchase of the former hospital which was to be converted and used as the Aberdeenshire Girl Guide Headquarters. The building itself was constructed in 1879, and required extensive renovation at the time.

A fundraising event organised by the Aberdeenshire Girl Guides Association included an Easter Fair at the Music Hall in 1966 which raised £1300 towards the renovation - a not insignificant amount for the time.

Lynn added: “One of the main features at the Fair was the Brownie Sunshine Stall to which every Brownie contributed an item. Fyvie Guides were set a challenge as their contribution to the Easter Fair.

The challenge was to raise ten shillings by knitting and selling dish cloths, chopping firewood, selling toffee, sewing and babysitting.”

Maud Brownies were the first Pack to have a holiday at the new centre in 1967. A ceremony celebrating 75 years of Guiding was held in June 25, 1985, when local Guides and Brownies formed a guard-of-honour for a flame representing the Spirit of Guiding, which had been carried from London.