Ann Mitchell


Archivist and Heritage Consultant

How long have you been in Girlguiding?

Over 65 years. I wasn’t a Brownie, but I joined as a Guide and I’ve been in ever since. I’ve never really wanted to get away. I’ve been very lucky in Girlguiding throughout.

Describe your journey into becoming the Archivist and Heritage Consultant:

I love history, I don’t think life exists without a past. I came into the position I suppose largely because of how long I’ve been in Guiding. And not just running a unit, which I did for 35 years, but doing all the various roles I have over my time. I’ve had advisory roles in Cambridgeshire East, Anglia, and WAGGGS itself. As a result, I have a lifetime of archives in my mind.

In 2021, I collated the timeline of 50 years of Anglia Guiding mostly from own mind and own guiding experience. Absorption of the years, I suppose, and it has been a delight to give it back.

Is there anything that stands out, any proud achievements?

Always think the most recent achievement is the one your proudest of, but what is most important is the girls. In my time as a Guide leader, 700 girls went through my unit, and I hope I made a difference, that being a girlguide meant something to them and has influenced their lives for the better. That’s the most important thing about Girlguiding.

Outside of that, my experience of world guiding. I worked at our chalet, and was on its management committee, contributing to the building of the newest section. I was very proud at the new building’s opening, of having helped move it into this century. I’ve also had the chance to experience world conferences through Girlguiding.

My proudest moment though, must be receiving my MBE for Services to Guiding at Home and Abroad.

In all, Girlguiding is a great organisation, offering girls the equal opportunities that they should have, helping to find a balance in this world, getting people where their hard work should take them. I know that WAGGGS has done enormous amount of work to move girls and young women forward and I am proud to be a part of it.

What do you enjoy the most in your role?

In my Archivist role, I am part of a fantastic team – we are the only fully developed Girlguiding archive team in England. We have archivists in every county in our region. We meet together, we know each other’s expertise. The history of Girlguiding is incredibly interesting and is something the kids enjoy. We are bringing history and historical activities to modern girl guides and they are loving it.

We do also have the mixed joy of the plastic bag – by this we mean donations, which have been coming in fast what with people clearing out during the pandemic. Within these bags, 99% will be what we have already, but then there is always an odd gem; a letter about guiding in 1921 or a badge unseen for years. Finding another piece of the Girlguiding history puzzle so we can bring it all to the next generation.