Heartfelt plea: Generations of Girl Guides unite to raise £1m for rebuild of their beloved Birk Crag centre

Guiders Hettie (10) and Chloe (11) serve the Rev. Alan Garrow during the guides fundraising morning at St. Peter's Church. (1702181AM1).
Guiders Hettie (10) and Chloe (11) serve the Rev. Alan Garrow during the guides fundraising morning at St. Peter's Church. (1702181AM1).

Generations of Girl Guides from across the Harrogate district and and beyond are raising £1m to rebuild their beloved Birk Crag residential centre.

Thousands of Guides have visited the existing centre in Harrogate over the last 60 years, but the building’s deterioration means it is no longer fit for purpose. North Yorkshire West County Guides past and present are now making an impassioned plea for the district to help fund a new Birk Crag on the same site.

Girl Guide Fundraising. County Commissioner Sue Mackay with guides at St. Peter's Church. (1702181AM2).

Girl Guide Fundraising. County Commissioner Sue Mackay with guides at St. Peter's Church. (1702181AM2).

For the Guide leaders, it is a determination for the girls to have the same life-changing experiences they had as children which is fuelling their fundraising.

April Martin said: “I came here as a Guide, and I made friends for life. Birk Crag was a constant for me when my dad was in the army up at Ripon Army Camp. It was important for girls like me to have somewhere to go and make friends.

“I am still in touch with the girl who slept next to me the first time I was here at Birk Crag.”

The Guides ran a fundraising morning at St Peter’s Church in Harrogate on Saturday, February 18, where they were eager to share what Birk Crag means to them.

Young leader Lydia Wright, 16, said: “Guides is a big part of your life. When you are younger, being able to go away on residentials is very exciting. Birk Crag is very important to guiding in the area, everybody goes there.”

Eve and Mae Broadbent with mum Anna were also at the church emphasising the value of the centre to the wider community.

Anna said: “We were bag packing last week, and when some of the older people realised what we were raising money for, we found it evoked some really fond memories for them.”

Eve said: “Going to Birk Crag is a good way of making lots of friends, I really like the Guides.”

Trinny Sadler said: “I love the atmosphere of the place, it’s like a second home.”

Ripon Brownie Kimberley Phoenix Hamilton, 7, said: “I’m excited to go to Birk Crag for the first time soon.”

The new Birk Crag will have better disabled access, and fresh facilities including an activity room, spaces for 40 beds, a kitchen and a lounge.

Ripon City Councillor Stuart Martin said: “The girls have worked hard fundraising so far, and it’s a chance for them to take ownership of the building they love.

“The centre brings a lot of tourism to the area from around the world.”

County Commissioner Sue Mackay said: “I came here as a Brownie when I was seven, it was very special my first time away from my parents, The new building will have the same ethos that everyone remembers as Birk Crag.”