A MUCH loved Brown Owl has hung up her uniform for the final time, after 18 years of helping character build young girls at Brownies.

Norma Hamilton, who spend her last session as leader of the 1st Calne Brownies celebrating with current and former brownies who dropped in especially to say goodbye, was shocked to receive a certificate of thanks from Town Mayor Cllr Tony Trotman.

“It was such a shock when the mayor turned up, I was dumbfounded. I was wondering why the mayor was there, but having the certificate I can always look back on it and prove I have achieved something.”

But becoming a Brown Owl and leader of the Brownies was never something she set out to do. In fact, if is all down to her niece, Rebecca Dolman.

She said: “She was the one who started it all off really. When I moved down here 21 years ago she was going to Brownies and wanted me to come up and see. I am the craftiest one of the lot so she said would you come and see me at Brownies?

“When I joined in they got me doing some craft stuff and I found out the two leaders were leaving that year so I joined in. I said I didn’t want to go in uniform but I want to help out.

“But we didn’t have a brown owl, so I said alright, I’ll go into uniform, I’ll take it on.”

After almost two decades being a Brownie leader, Mrs Hamilton decided she couldn’t commit herself anymore, having to look after her elderly mother and work unsociable hours.

She has packed in a lot in her 18 years, including parades, helping the girls achieve their badges and raising money for charity.

Her favourite memories have been seeing members of the same family pass through her doors, and taking part in the Calne Summer Festival and Carnival.

She said: “I’ve had three different sisters come through my unit as they have grown, and it was nice to have the whole family come through.

“I’ve done the carnival float every year we have been in it since 2000. The best was in 2003. We did a float on peace and it stood out because we were all dressed in white with doves, making the statement that we don’t like war.”

But Mrs Hamilton said her 18 years in the girls guides is nothing compared to some leaders.

“I want to say a thank you to all the leaders and people that do guiding, if they weren’t there it wouldn’t be here today."