Legendary Portchester Brownie leader hangs up uniform after 50 years

Liz  Bartlett, 65, with members of the 3rd Portchester Brownie troop
Liz Bartlett, 65, with members of the 3rd Portchester Brownie troop
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FOR decades she has been a guiding light for hundreds of children from across the area, helping to set them on the right track for the rest of their lives.

But now after more than 50 years of service with the 3rd Portchester Brownies, ‘legendary’ Liz Bartlett is finally hanging up her uniform.

Liz Bartlett with Brownie Lilly-Anne Harvey, nine, in an old Brownie uniform, and her mother, Joanne Sims, who was a former Brownie invested into the troop by Liz

Liz Bartlett with Brownie Lilly-Anne Harvey, nine, in an old Brownie uniform, and her mother, Joanne Sims, who was a former Brownie invested into the troop by Liz

The dedicated 65-year-old, of Webb Road, Portchester, has been an instrumental figure for hundreds of girls who have been part of the group during her half-century stint.

For 36 years of that she has been the head of the troop having been bestowed the title of ‘Brown Owl’ – a name which has stuck with her ever since.

Speaking to The News on her final evening with the Brownies at their base inside Wicor Primary School, in Hatherley Crescent, she said: ‘It’s been an emotional journey.

‘I first came here for six weeks to be invested as a Sea Ranger. That six-week service turned into 50 years with the Brownies.

From left, Sue Pibworth, Liz's sister who is also in the Brownie troop, Liz Bartlett, Liz's nieve Heidi Richards, 36, who was invested in the 3rd Portchester Brownies by her aunt, and Liz's great-niece Chloe-Ann Richards, 16, who also used to be a Brownie at the group

From left, Sue Pibworth, Liz's sister who is also in the Brownie troop, Liz Bartlett, Liz's nieve Heidi Richards, 36, who was invested in the 3rd Portchester Brownies by her aunt, and Liz's great-niece Chloe-Ann Richards, 16, who also used to be a Brownie at the group

‘But I’ve loved every minute of it. I had so much fun in the Brownies as a girl that I wanted to give something back.

‘It’s going to be a different change of life. This is part of my family. I have seen so many girls grow up over the years. I’m going to miss it.’

To celebrate her final evening, Liz was joined by Brownies past and present.

Among them included parents of current Brownies, who were invested into the organisation as children themselves more than two decades ago.

Joanne Sims joined in 1986 and now sends her daughter, Lilly-Anne Harvey, nine, to the group.

She said: ‘I brought my daughter her because I knew Brown Owl was still in charge.

‘She’s a well-respected community member and always goes above and beyond. She’s a legend in Portchester.’

The final evening saw families and Brownies present gifts to Liz, including a collage of past photos.

During the party, some of the children dressed in old Brownie uniforms.

With no leader, the group will now merge with 2nd Portchester Brownies in the New Year, ending its 60-year history.

Ex-Brownie Melissa George, 37, said it was the end of an era. ‘I’m gutted.

‘My daughter is seven in February meaning she won’t be able to be with Brown Owl.’

Retired Liz says she is looking forward to a more peaceful pace of life.