Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Saturday, 5 September 2009 19:08 UK

Girl Guides celebrate centenary

Former Girl Guides explain why they loved it so much

Tens of thousands of Guides, Brownies and Rainbows have celebrated the centenary of Girl Guiding.

More than half a million girls and their guests have taken part in parties, Girlguiding UK said.

About 8,000 Guides, Brownies and Rainbows gathered at an event in Manchester's Heaton Park.

Some 6,000 attended London's Crystal Palace, where a group of girls asked Lord Robert Baden-Powell for their own movement at a Scout rally in 1909.

A century after the youngsters urged him to offer "something for the girls", Girlguiding UK said it is still going strong.

In Northern Ireland 100 girls stood on 100 stones at Giant's Causeway while at Mam Tor Mountain, in the Peak District, girls formed the figure 100, which was visible for several miles.

Brownies gathering at Manchester's Heaton Park for the centenary

A Girlguiding UK Centenary Maze was unveiled at Crystal Palace Park to celebrate the anniversary.

One in four eight-year-old girls in the UK is a Brownie and almost half of all British women have been involved at some stage in their lives.

The movement says it has about 45,000 girls waiting to join.

Liz Burnley, Chief Guide, said the numbers involved showed that the movement remains relevant.

"Over the next 100 years I think our values will stay the same," she said.

"I think our activities will change and the girls will help us to change those activities and help us to remain relevant to the times we are in."

In 1909, Lord Baden-Powell asked his sister Agnes to look after the new organisation.

His wife Olave became involved and, in 1918, she was appointed Chief Guide.

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But Girlguiding UK's records show that early critics labelled it a "foolish and pernicious movement" and an "idiotic sport".

Sue Lomas, Girlguiding's north-west chief commissioner, said girl guiding played a part in achieving universal suffrage.

"In 1909 women did not even have the vote," she said.

"Guides were part of the change as they wanted to do the adventurous activities the boys were doing.

"Guides acted as runners and after World War II teams went to help rebuild Europe, so we have a long history of being a service to the community."

Events laid on for girls and adults to mark the centenary celebrations in Manchester and London included zip wires, skate boarding, climbing walls, Bollywood dancing, yoga, creative challenges and rugby.

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