The President of The Girls' Brigade Ireland
The Girls' Brigade is a high achieving, happy, vibrant and forward-thinking youth organisation in which girls excel themselves, both physically and socially.
It has been my honour and privilege to lead The Girls' Brigade Ireland as their President since 2009, taking over from Joan Darling and following in the footsteps of my predecessors. Having been in The Girl's Brigade since the age of 4, it has been a lifelong passion and has given far more to me than I have given it.
When I took on the role of president it was my personal mission to not only preserve the organisation but also bring it forward. In truth it has been challenging, never before has there been so much competition for children’s attention and spare time. Of course these changes are hugely beneficial in our society, the emphasis on sport and physical fitness pays dividends, especially in relation to important areas of mental health and socialisation. But then, here at GB we have known that since 1893!
Broadening our activities, making then more relevant to girls of this generation, has been central to the changes we have made. Our uniform, throughout all sections, has been brought into the 21st century and we continue to update it on an ongoing basis. We have introduced Musical Theatre into our programme which has been a great success along with encouraging companies to fundraise each year for the Girls’ Brigade chosen charity or indeed for a charity in their area. There is so much in our programme to choose from and we encourage companies to pick whatever suits their girls.
Of course, attracting new members to our organisation is only a worthwhile activity if we have the Captains and Leaders on the ground. It is fair to say that without these everyday heroines who volunteer so much of their personal time, we would have no Girls’ Brigade. We have made huge strides in our leadership programme to ensure that the young women in our Brigader and Associate sections are given the encouragement and opportunity to rise up and take their place at the higher levels of the organisation, be it from leader to Board level.
We are proud of our long history, however by holding on to the past too tightly we jeopardise our future. To attract young people to The Girls’ Brigade we must be relevant and add value to the lives of our members, we should always be striving for progress and growth.
2019/2020 brings huge change for The Girls’ Brigade Ireland. We have joined the 21st Century with the introduction of an online membership platform which will help parents manage their children’s registration. It will also mean that Captains and Leaders will have almost no paperwork, leaving them to concentrate on running their Company. In addition, we have launched this new website along with a uniform store to take the strain off companies and parents alike.
We have many more projects planned for 2020 and I sincerely hope that our members both past, present and future, will be excited by these modernisations. I look forward with great anticipation to guiding us through another year of growth and success.
We are changing with the times, in 2020 get ready to see a fresh take on Girls' Brigade, while keeping strong links with our rich heritage.
Our new membership platform will launch in September 2019. The new system will allow parents to register online and keep all their data and preferences updated in a GDPR compliant way. The system will also allow Captains and Leaders to manage their companies with a few clicks, greatly reducing the administration burden currently placed upon them.
A fresh new website to reflect all the changes we have made within our organisation over the past few years. We hope you like it. Additionally we will soon launch an online store which is open to all to purchase uniforms from. We hope again this will allow parents to be self sufficient and alleviate the uniform work currently completed at company level.
A comprehensive review of our systems and procedures around retention of Data has been completed. We now are proud to say that we are fully GDPR compliant.
We aim in 2020 to launch a new membership recruitment drive. Writing and implementing a professional marketing plan will be part of the role of the National Secretary.
There is a huge amount of photographs, artefacts and paraphernalia lying around here at Headquarters, and that’s just the start of it. There is probably more in peoples attics all around the country. It’s time we took care of these precious records and collated them digitally. Launching in 2020 is the GB Historical Archive which we hope will be accessible by all via the website.
The average age at the last Past Members Association lunch was 80. This has to change! These ladies are brilliant and we love them, but they and we at HQ, want to see younger faces. Let us know your ideas on how we can achieve that!