Girlguiding is the premier voluntary organisation in the UK for girls and young women. Within guiding girls have fun, adventure and the space to discover their potential
They go to their first ever sleepover, canoe on rivers, learn about body confidence, and lead their own camp. Or sometimes they simply have fun and try new things with friends. Girls take what they do in guiding with them as they grow up. Everything from working in a team, to taking the lead, to speaking out on issues they care about. It helps them develop the skills and confidence to become the young women they want to be, and to make a difference to the world around them.
The Ellesborough Guide Centre is situated in the rural Chilterns just below Coombe Hill in two acres of grounds. The building was originally Ellesborough Village School and is now 100 years old. When the school closed it was leased by Girlguiding from the Chequers Trust and the freehold subsequently acquired by Girlguiding Buckinghamshire in 1971.
Ellesborough School was built in 1839 by Sir Robert and Lady Frankland-Russell, who then owned the Chequers Estate. Built in the local traditional style it is a mixture of mellow red brick and bright knapped flint. The front gable has the Dutch style parapet above stone mullioned windows associated with the period. The architect was Edward Buckton-Lamb who also designed some additions to Chequers including the gatehouse at the top of Missenden Road, Prestwood Parish Church, Berkhamsted Town Hall and numerous mainly ecclesiastical buildings throughout the country.
The building was opened as a Pack Holiday House in 1972. This fully furnished centre provides self-catering living accommodation for up to thirty people in the House and offers camping space for up to sixty people in the grounds. The location gives easy access to the surrounding woods and hills and the Centre is ideal for indoor and outdoor activities, and for all age groups. The indoor accommodation is particularly valuable for the Rainbow Section (5-7 years old); Girlguiding policy encourages residential experiences but this age group is not allowed to camp. Many Brownie Units (7-10 years old) also prefer to have indoor accommodation for their residential experiences.
The Centre provides adventure and outdoor activities for all members of Girlguiding Buckinghamshire and from farther afield. It is also widely used by young people working on the Duke of Edinburgh Award for their expedition training. The location in Ellesborough provides an essential rural experience for young people from urban areas and is valued by many of our users for this reason. The centre is also used by local authority youth groups such as the Foster Care group to give the young people an outdoor experience for their social meetings.
The facilities, particularly the outdoor buildings remain little changed from those provided by the Victorian School and are in serious need of updating to provide up-to-date and appropriate facilities in line with the Girlguiding policy for residential accommodation. Furthermore, in accordance with the Equalities Act of 2010, we also need to make further positive steps towards removing barriers faced by people with disabilities.
We have been granted planning permission to demolish an existing outbuilding at the rear of the property and erect an attached rear extension with storage space in the roof and carry out associated internal alterations to the existing building to update the facilities provided. The new area of the building will include a meeting room with Wi-Fi and projector for trainings; separate male and female toilet and shower facilities and disabled bathroom facilities. The internal layout will be reconfigured to allow improved bedroom facilities and provision for disabled members.
The estimated total cost of this development is in the region of £350,000. We have a legacy fund which has started our fundraising for the project and have already had lots of donations. 2019 we are launching a County wide fundraising initiative to encourage all members to take part in a fundraising project.
Ellesborough Guide Centre is a much loved and valuable County facility which we have owned for almost 50 years and this project is aimed at making it sustainable as a residential and outdoor facility for a further 50 years and longer.