Susan Leng


Assistant Archivist and Heritage Consultant

How long have you been in Girlguiding?

Ever since I was seven, maybe seven and a half, so that’s a long time! I never took a break, I seemed to keep going from Brownie to Guide and then Leader. I received my 50 year service award a while ago and I think my 60 year is coming soon which is scary.

Describe your journey into becoming Assistant Archivist and Heritage Consultant – what does your role entail?

I’ve been county archivist for Essex North East, including while I was still an active guider. I love being an archivist. It’s a fun role, I’ve always been very interested in the history. I work alongside Ann Mitchell and the other Anglia archivists – they are all so knowledgeable. The team organises events, we have an annual weekend get together to share knowledge between us. In terms of giving advice, I am just one of the many who have the knowledge, it’s a privilege to work in the job.

Is there anything that stands out, any proud achievements?

I loved working with the Brownies – I never wanted to be a Guide leader, because I loved working with the Brownies so much. The girls in that age range never really change, even in modern guiding they’re so full of life. The pack holidays with Brownies when I was a leader were always so much fun, like camping but indoors.

In 2022, I opened a Millennium capsule with my old Brownie pack. The Brownies were so interested and surprised at what had been stored in there. They added some more items and it was resealed for another generation to open. It’s another age to the Brownies, a time that wasn’t so reliant on technology. I feel privileged to have been a part of Girlguiding and wouldn’t have ever not wanted to be a part of it.

One of my highlights would helping at the guide headquarters on Buckingham Palace road archive. There are precious things in the archive there. When Princess Margaret passed, the archive put together a tribute and I was asked to put the display together, which involved handling her old guiding uniform and things.

I once went on Mastermind in 1997 and my special topic was Lady Baden Powell, which I did really well on. I came second, but it was really the fun of being on the show.

What do you enjoy the most in your role?

In some ways it’s the surprise, because you have no idea what is going to appear. People send in parcels and sometimes inside them is something you thought you’d never see again, and then it’s in your hand. It’s the privilege of dealing with things and handling things that would normally be in a museum.