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Rainbows mark 25th anniversary with Mad Hatter's Tea Party
OXFORD will experience an extraordinary phenomenon tomorrow when hundreds of rainbows appear at Merton Field, near Christ Church Meadow.
Spreading some much welcomed colour after the recent rain, the Rainbows are not a meteorological wonder, but the youngest and fastest growing arm of the Guiding UK movement.
Some 400 of them from across the county will be celebrating their 25th anniversary with a massive Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, at the exact spot where Lewis Carroll first read passages of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
County Rainbow adviser Amanda Weller explained: “Rainbows was formed in 1987 for girls aged five to seven, and has grown in popularity ever since.
“As of May last year there were 71 Rainbow units in Oxfordshire alone, comprising of more than 800 girls, and we have hundreds more on waiting lists to join.”
Eagerly awaiting the event – and busy making hats to wear – were the 14 young members of the 2nd Benson Rainbows.
Leader Vicki Jarvis said: “To say they are excited is an understatement. This party is going to be absolutely wonderful.”
Rainbow Laura Hempleman, six, and from Benson said: “I have made a yellow, orange, blue and green hat to wear to the party and I am looking forward to eating cake there.”
Sophie Jarvis, six, added: “The best thing about the Rainbows is all the activities. We also play lots of games.”
Being a Rainbow is all about learning, developing self-confidence and building friendships. The girls are encouraged to learn about working together and being kind and considerate to others, and also to think about the wider world.
Mrs Weller was in her 20s and working full time when she agreed to start one of the county’s first Rainbow units in 1988.
She said: “It was all quite new, but there were plenty of little girls in the county anxious to get into the Guiding movement and the 1st Kidlington Rainbows quickly formed a waiting list.”
The 2nd Kidlington Rainbows started soon after and so began a new ‘club’ for five-seven-year-old girls which would see generations of girls from local families pass through it. Now 28 years into Guiding in Oxfordshire, Mrs Weller still runs her Kidlington unit and is County Rainbow Advisor.
Anita Joines, 54, started the 1st Neithrop Rainbows in 1994 and has been running the Banbury-based unit ever since.
The grandmother-of-10 explained: “I love seeing them do well. I have a little girl starting with me in the summer, whose mum was in my original Rainbow unit.
“That makes me feel old, but also very happy.”
The Rainbows’ Mad Hatter’s Tea Party takes place between 2pm and 5pm.
- For more details about the Rainbows and to find out more about becoming a leader, click on the link.