A Life in Guiding

Margaret Barbour




By Margaret Barbour - June 2004

(Edited by Bruce Barbour - January 2020. At the time of writing (June 2004), Matilda's Mate was still being edited and produced by Margaret. Margaret ceased to be the Newsletter's editor shortly after.)

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"Matilda’s Mate" is the North Metro Region Guides Newsletter. It was published every two months to bring news of the Region, such as the dates of Region activities planned, stories and photos of events enjoyed from the various Units. Contributions to the Newsletter was written by the girls and the leaders, with an enthusiastic letter from the Region Leader to commence the edition for this time.

How did "Matilda’s Mate" start? Sometime ago, back about 1980, there was a need for each Region `to start their own newsletter’. At that time there was a Guiding magazine called "Guiding in Australia". This magazine allowed each State to put in their news – and we all enjoyed reading about Guiding in other States. But it also meant that the Region Leader had to circulate her Unit Leaders, who then had to pass on to the Guides, notices of Victorian events being planned. While many filtered through and some didn't meaning some Guides might miss events or information.

A suggestion was put forward at the Region Leaders' meeting that each Region may like to start their own Newsletter. An article  - "How to start a Newsletter" - was printed in "Guiding in Australia" in November 1980. Many Regions started their own newsletters – and this assisted their Leaders and and Guides to keep up-to-date.

Finding a Leader to do the job in the North Region was hard as all Leaders were busy with running Units. Finally a Leader volunteered – and the Region Newsletter was started.

The Newsletter needed a name so suggestions were called for. Another Leader remembering that the Victorian Magazine – before "Guiding in Australia" - was called "Matilda" suggested the name "Matilda’s Mate" as the Newsletter was to be a "Mate" to the Region Commissioner and the Units as a whole.

So "Matilda’s Mate" came into being as the official newsletter in North Metro Guides Region in approximately 1980 or thereabouts. "Matilda’s Mate" started off well, with lots of interesting items, but then communications seemed to fail between the Leaders and "Matilda’s Mate". Eventually the Newsletter lapsed.

It was soon realized that North Metro Region still had a need for a newsletter, to get notes from the Region Leader and to be able to share the "fun and friendship of Guiding" throughout the North Metro Region. However they needed to find someone to edit and produce it.

For many years I was a leader with 2nd Strathmore Guides and then, owing to the changing way of activities in the district, numbers dropped and my company closed in 1979, with the remaining girls transferring to 1st & 3rd Strathmore. 1st Strathmore eventually closed and this left 3rd Strathmore Guides to continue on thus becoming Strathmore Guides. I was appointed as District Commissioner for Strathmore District in 1980 for five years to 1985. Also around 1980 I had a meeting with other Guiding leader friends, and we planned and started Strathmore Trefoil Guild to keep our friendships of Guiding alive.

Someone suggested that I might like to "do" the Region's Newsletter, "Matilda’s Mate". Having been in Guiding for many years in a range of roles and liking writing and verses, I accepted "the job" as another challenge to do. I took over being the editor of "Matilda's Mate" from November 1985.

The job involved lots of making sure I had the notices and news to include in the magazine, getting news from guides and brownies and leaders and learning how to make "Matilda’s Mate" interesting and informative.

It also involved learning a number of new skills: planning out the layout, juggling pieces to fill the pages, learning how to use a photo-copier, and later learning how to use a computer, how to send and receive e-mails.

The newsletter needed content, including verses & thoughts. I encouraged Guiding friends to write items for "Matilda's Mate": a "thank you letter" to Guides or Brownies, or a "thank you" to leaders.

Luckily I was a "bower bird" and had collected items of interest over the years – notes of activities and events of Guiding that I had taken part in through the various avenues of Guiding in over the years. Many of those items found their way into "Matilda's Mate".

At first, "Matilda’s Mate" was collected by the District Leaders – then the Unit Leaders made arrangements for their newsletters to be collected, and finally newsletters were posted out on the due date. Later on the Strathmore Trefoil Guild assisted with the collating of the newsletter. It had become a big job – but a vital link between Units in the Region.

"Matilda’s Mate"  - North Metro Region Guides – Newsletter – full of news and informative as ever!

Margaret Barbour
Editor - "Matilda’s Mate"

A Life in Guiding - First Page.

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