The following is a transcript of the questions and answers I asked and received from my eminent interview person. Her name is Helen Gardner, she wrote a book on Agnes Baden-Powell and she is currently 80 years old and living in England.
Did you know Agnes Baden-Powell personally?
Agnes died in 1945, just before the end of the War. By then she had been forgotten by many in Guiding and I never heard of her until I was in Guides, more than six years later. I have come to know several of her nieces and nephews while writing the book which they greatly encouraged. She was a very much loved Aunt Azzie.
What has she done to change the way society sees girls and women?
She was sympathetic to the Suffragists (the non violent women) and there had never before been anything in which girls could do the sort of things which boys did. When WW1 started she camped on the doorstep of the Ministry of Defence until they allowed women to take part in the war effort. In WW2 she was instrumental in persuading the Government to let women into the Air Force. Guides helped to change the way in which people regarded women.
In what ways has she had an impact on our world?
B-P’s plans were educationally years ahead of their time. Formal education has not caught up until the last couple of generations.
How do you think the world would be different if she didn’t start girl guides?
I am answering this personally. For 70 years I have lived my life by the Guide Promise and Law. If I had not been a Guide I would have been a less confident person and would have achieved far less in my life than has been the case. Nowadays, when it is no longer fashionable to join uniformed organisations, I am conscious of how much young people in their 20s don’t know and how empty and without direction many of their lives are.
Is there anything else I should know about her that wasn’t mentioned in your book?
Because she died just as the War was ending her funeral took place in a hurry and her name was never inscribed on the family grave at Kensal Rise. The A B-P Society is now rectifying this.