My week: Dinah Faulds

The Girlguiding Scotland volunteer rejects accusations of spreading English propaganda.

Dinah Faulds
Dinah Faulds


I wake up early to check yesterday's emails and phone calls from the London office of Girlguiding UK. I've been invited to give a speech about our first charity challenge: a horse trek in Mongolia last summer. I am transported back to the steppes, wide-open plains, limitless galloping, eagles soaring ... Then the phone rings. An angry parent alleges his daughter's Brownie unit has been forced to learn the "English" national anthem.

Besides volunteering at Girlguiding Scotland, I work full-time at East Lothian Council. I'm not entitled to any leave to fulfil my volunteering obligations, so I have decided to ask if I can do a three-day week. It was a tough decision because it will affect my income and pension. It's not an option for some women who might make great Girlguiding commissioners, which is a real shame.


I've fallen behind with my correspondence for Girlguiding Scotland - I try to do two or three hours' work for the charity a day. Project Perception, a big national rebranding initiative we have been running for two years, seems to be going well. People think we are all "dib, dib, dob, dob", but we have never used the words: it's a scouts thing. Recent press coverage has been about our Girls Shout Out!, a report into how our members feel in today's society - their aspirations and fears. I contact a local manager to check out the national anthem hoo-ha.


Sweet relief. Choir night. But I must still cram in a reply to the irate parent. Brownies democratically voted to learn the national anthem as part of the Traditions of Guiding badge, and individuals can opt out if they wish. I tell him his daughter is free to sing Flower of Scotland.


I take an afternoon of annual leave to chair the executive committee meeting in Edinburgh, which goes on into the evening. I feel guilty about keeping paid staff back after hours, but it's the only time I can catch up. We plough through a mountain of work.


Now for the real fun as I join the Dalkeith Guides and Brownies at our training centre in the Scottish Borders. The day's theme is international, so I make a didgeridoo and try carrying water on my head with a fake baby strapped to my back. We finish with a campfire singsong, which includes Flower of Scotland. I wish the nationalist could see the Chinese Brownie singing arm in arm with her English and Scottish friends.

- Dinah Faulds is chief commissioner for Girlguiding Scotland (

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