Remarkable Women: Dawn Barrie

The WA Trefoil Guild Committee has launched the Remarkable Women project. Our first featured woman is Dawn Barrie.

Dawn Barrie’s story

We are beginning our centenary profiles with an example of one of Guiding’s quiet achievers – one of the many, many women who have spent years working with the girls, teaching them the fun and skills which are so much part of Guiding.

Dawn Barrie knew about Scouting as her father had been a Scout for 15 years and had been selected by the Commonwealth Government to represent Australia at the Empire Exhibition in 1924 and at the Danish Jamboree. She didn’t, however, know anything about Guides or Brownies until her daughter joined the local Wembley Downs Brownie Pack and Dawn went along as a volunteer mum to help with teaching the Brownies to knit. This was in the early 1970s and Dawn is still with them although no longer as a mum helper.

A few months after her introduction to helping out, the Brown Owl retired and Dawn stayed on to keep the Pack together learning from the girls as she went along. She ran the Pack for three years before a Leader was found to join her. She taught the girls Brownie skills and they concentrated on badges, Dawn teaching and then the girls being tested by local support group members and community helpers. In 1973 she made her promise and later was warranted as a Tawny Owl (second in command). She chose to accept this role, leaving the Brown Owl position open.

She said it was a very special Pack and she still keeps in touch with many of the girls and their families. Dawn remembers many day outings to interesting places which she, the girls, and some of their mothers, ventured to at the weekends. On one occasion they were intending to visit a small park in Gooseberry Hill where Dawn had spent many happy hours as a child. On her trip to reconnoitre she found the little old cottage in the park in a sad state of disrepair. She contacted the Kalamunda Shire Council asking if it could be improved as she wanted to visit with her Brownies. To her delight the council obliged and they all had a marvellous day out.

Many Pack Holidays were also included in the girl’s program – great weekends where magic always happened. One she particularly remembers was based around a gypsy theme. Her daughter, aged about 15, dressed up as Madam Zorba and in a dark room, over a crystal ball which was lit up from inside, the wide eyed Brownies who one by one consulted her were told their fortunes. The girls were so excited that Madam Zorba had known so much about them and their families – they talked about it for days!

For 25 years the Brownie Pack have been corresponding with a Pack in Scotland sending letters and photos of the girls and their activities each Thinking Day and Christmas.

Over the past 40 years Dawn has attended many trainings which included working for her First Aid and Pack Holiday certificates. For the last 25 years Dawn has shared and enjoyed a wonderful partnership with Louise Toy, the Brown Owl, who retired last year.  She will miss Louise, however she is delighted that one of her original Brownies is now training to be the Leader, and another will be her assistant.

Bravo Dawn!

Stay tuned for our next remarkable woman later this month.

Story contributed by Ann Miller

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