West Harbour Girls' Brigade goes into recess

Retiring leaders of the West Harbour Girls' Brigade company Jennifer Box (left) and Glenis Whipp pictured with members of the group after the company's final meeting on Tuesday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Retiring leaders of the West Harbour Girls' Brigade company Jennifer Box (left) and Glenis Whipp pictured with members of the group after the company's final meeting on Tuesday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
The retirement of its two long-serving leaders has meant the end of an era for the West Harbour Girls' Brigade company which is now in recess after 83 years of community involvement.

West Harbour, the 7th Dunedin Company, was formed in 1998 from the merging of the long-established Sawyers Bay company (1934) and the Ravensbourne St Leonards company.

The last weekly meeting of West Harbour for 2017, and for the foreseeable future, was held at the St Leonard's Community Hall on Tuesday.

And it was the last meeting for the company's two active leaders Jennifer Box and Glenis Whipp who, between them, have given more than 100 years of leadership to the brigade.

Mrs Whipp (75), of St Leonards, has been a company leader for 56 years and Mrs Box (67), of Roseneath, for 50 years.

Both had decided to step back from active leadership but the non-availability of suitably experienced younger leaders to take over meant the group's future had to be put on hold.

The decision had not been made lightly, Mrs Box said.

Neither she nor Mrs Whipp was happy about the company having to go into recess, but they felt they had to be realistic.

West Harbour had ''an amazing group'' of young leaders but, unfortunately, because of work or study commitments, none was able to commit to being regularly available to the extent required.

Girls' Brigade companies meet once a week throughout the year during term time.

While putting the group into recess was disappointing, it was preferable to closing it down, Mrs Box said. If leaders became available and the West Harbour company could be re-activated in the future, the necessary processes would not have to be started again ''from scratch''.

Both she and Mrs Whipp would still have some involvement with Girls' Brigade work and both would be willing to act as advisers and mentors to a reactivated company.

Mrs Whipp had about another year as captain of the 89-year-old Caversham-based 1st Dunedin Company, the first Girls' Brigade company to be established in New Zealand.

Mrs Box had been national commissioner for, and has just completed eight years as, international vice-president for the Pacific. Mrs Whipp was made a life member in 2013.

The West Harbour Company was the second local Girls' Brigade group to go into recess in recent years, the 4th company in South Dunedin having temporarily ceased activity a couple of years ago.

On the question of the future of Girls' Brigade, Mrs Box said a second programme, Icons For Girls, had been introduced by the Girls' Brigade.

It operated in a slightly different way from the standard programme but was based on the same principles.

It also had a funkier uniform which might make it more attractive to those who might regard the Girls' Brigade's blue uniform as old-fashioned.

kay.sinclair@odt.co.nz

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