Guiding community pays tribute to an internationally-renowned former leader

Anne in 2012

Margaret Anne Carter died aged 97. Here she is pictured in 2012. - Credit: SUPPLIED

The world’s guiding community has paid tribute to a well-respected former Girl Guides leader from Norfolk.

Margaret Anne Carter, of Little Melton near Norwich, was also a social worker and historian and has left behind an everlasting impact on guiding both in her home county of Norfolk and internationally. 

Known by all as Anne, she was born on July 21, 1924, in Maymyo, Burma, in Mainland Southeast Asia. There she became enrolled as a Bluebird, which was the area’s equivalent of the Brownies at the time. 

The Burma birthplace of Anne Carter

The Burma birthplace of Anne Carter - Credit: SUPPLIED

Anne Carter in 1930 as a Girl Guide in Kalaw, Burma

Anne Carter in 1930 as a Girl Guide in Kalaw, Burma - Credit: SUPPLIED

She was aged eight when she sailed to England and went on to become a guide. After moving to Norfolk following her marriage to husband Claude, she became captain of the 1st Blofield Guide Company.  

In 1962, she became county cadet captain for six years - the Cadets were the predecessors of today’s Young Leaders - and they would meet for training at weekends. The Watch House at Blakeney Point, a former Coastguard station, was one of the group’s most unforgettable venues.

She was asked by the Commonwealth headquarters to become its chairman of the Training and Advisory Panel.  

Anne Carter in 1972, birdwatching at Blakeney Point

Anne Carter in 1972, birdwatching at Blakeney Point - Credit: SUPPLIED

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Mrs Carter went on to write the Cadet Guiders Handbook and later the Ranger Guides Handbook, of which Jarrold of Norwich was the printer. Providing an artist to illustrate the Ranger Guides Handbook, Mrs Carter was not pleased as she said the illustrations were caricatures that gave a false idea of guiding. On meeting the illustrator at a bistro in the city, the artwork was quickly changed and approved.  

Mrs Carter also contributed to Tomorrow’s Guide, a new programme at the time which launched in the 1970s. 

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Back in Norfolk, Beth Patteson, the Girl Guiding’s county commissioner, who later bequeathed her house and land to guiding, asked Mrs Carter to be her assistant together with Lady Bacon. She felt it was a huge privilege to work with two remarkable ladies and described having lots of fun together. 

In 1969, she attended the World Conference in Finland, where she shared a sauna with Betty St Clair Clay CBE, the younger daughter of Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting and Girl Guides, and Olave Baden-Powell, Lady Baden-Powell, who was the first Chief Guide for Britain. 

Later, at the 1976 World Conference at Sussex University, England, she became a sub-editor of a daily newspaper publishing in English, French, and Spanish. This role involved a visit to Buckingham Palace where she met the Queen and the Queen Mother. 

In 1984, she was presented with the Beaver Award for Outstanding Services to Guiding. 

In 2010, during the centenary year of guiding, a group of guiders, including Mrs Carter, researched the history of Patteson Lodge, the Norfolk Guides Activity Centre originally set up by Denise Beattie during her time as county commissioner. The story of Patteson Lodge was later published in 2012. 

New defibrillator at Patteson Lodge Girlguiding Centre. Back, left to right, parish chairman Robert

Patteson Lodge Girlguiding Centre - Credit: Archant

Then came her membership of the Trefoil Guild, a section for retired guiders, where she chaired the County Lines Trefoil Guild up until the age of 90.  

At the time, she said: “May guiding go from strength to strength.” 

A spokesperson for Girlguiding paid tribute from the guiding community.

“Her army service during the Second World War had trained her to be self-confident and to hold responsible positions, so she became particularly interested in sharing her skills and training young people at an early age. 

“Anne was so interested in everything and everybody, and was much admired and loved by whoever she met. All of her training was inspirational and legendary. It has been a joy and privilege to have known her.” 

Anne Carter in 2007, revisiting Burma

Anne Carter in 2007, revisiting Burma - Credit: SUPPLIED

Mr Carter died aged 97 on July 23 and is survived by her three sons, Thomas, Peter, and Michael, and six grandchildren. The funeral service will take place at All Saints Church, Little Melton, on Tuesday, August 17 at 2pm. Donations to the Friends of Little Melton Church Trust at or to Ivan Fisher Independent Funeral Home, Norton House, 17 Park Drive, Hethersett, Norwich. NR9 3EN.

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