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Dorothy Dickson – the life of Girls’ Brigade in her time.

Dorothy was a valued member of Girls’ Brigade in Otago for many years and up until the time of her passing last week.

Her record of service is very impressive –Dorothy started as a girl at Girls’ Life Brigade and came through the ranks, being commissioned as a Lieutenant in May 1955 at 25th Dunedin (Kaikorai), progressing to Captain in February 1963 before transferring to 26th Dunedin (Mornington) in 1968 and was Captain there from 1972 to 1982.

During these 27 years Dorothy also held positions of Commandant of 2nd Battalion 1960-62, West District Commissioner, Records Secretary, Regional Secretary, Assistant Regional Commissioner, and a member of the Queens Award Panel.

Dorothy was also the first Girls’ Brigade leader to set up the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme through Girls’ Brigade for Otago and her girls were the first to receive their Gold Awards.

Even though Dorothy resigned from active leadership in 1982 she continued to support Girls’ Brigade by being on the Support Committee here at Mornington for a number of years, and was commissioned as the Company Chaplain for Mornington in the year 2000.

Dorothy was very active in the Guild of Friendship for many years, fulfilling the positions of Secretary and Treasurer.

Dorothy received her 10 year and 20-year Service Awards while as a leader, and in 1999 received her Girls’ Brigade National Commissioners Award for her services to Girls’ Brigade.

Dorothy attended the Girls’ Life Brigade Diamond Jubilee Celebrations at Albert Hall, London, in 1962 as part of the New Zealand contingent. She was a Major from the 25th Dunedin company and part of a group of 12 others from Dunedin – including Olga Scott and Bessie Webster. The New Zealanders had to present Maori actions songs and Dorothy always used to laugh that she was the only blonde Maori in the group. She was described as quite a figure on that trip – she liked a lot of fun and laughter, and also kept in touch with many of those from that time.

Dorothy was instrumental in supporting newer leaders and some of their recollections are:

“I first met Dorothy when I was just commissioned in 1964 and I was informed that Major Dickson would come and inspect me at work in the company and I was worried sick about having to meet this very high up person. She was very correct but friendly but it was a nerve-wracking time. Afterwards when I got to know her I wondered how I could have been so frightened by her.”

Other recollections:

“We were on Regional Executive together and I used to get a ride with her to meetings and we were laughing all the time! In the early days we went to the meetings with Mrs MacKay who was the 1st Captain at 26th Dunedin and was also one of the early GLB National Presidents. She was a lovely lady and Dorothy used to tell everyone that she was her grandmother as Dorothy’s mother was a MacKay, they were actually no relation but Dorothy thought that Mrs. MacKay would be good as a grandmother – so therefore she claimed her as one”.

“I recall Dorothy coming down to North East Valley to assist with marking of badge subjects when we were younger.”

“Dorothy was always a very happy cheerful person to be around - you sure could count on having some good laughs with her, even to not too many weeks ago when I last visited her.”

“Dorothy was a very generous lady who gave her time freely over the years to her girls in her care within our organisation, Girls’ Brigade.”

“Dorothy was well liked and respected by all who knew her and she had a very bubbly personality and was a much-loved leader.”

Right up until her passing Dorothy always took an interest in what we as leaders were doing now in Girls’ Brigade and the girls achievements. If she could she always attended girls/Company/Area events that the Guild ladies were invited to and supported fundraising endeavours.

She is accurately described as being great fun and there was never a dull moment round her. She was a happy person who enjoyed the company of others. This is so very true of Dorothy and the number of Girls’ Brigade leaders (old and current) here today is a tribute in itself to how loved Dorothy was by us.

Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Dorothy will be missed.

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