Obituary: Kathleen Davies-Cooke

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The Independent Online
Kathleen Mabel Davies-Cooke, administrator; born London 5 January 1903; Deputy Chief Commissioner for England, Girl Guide Association 1945-48; Chairman of the Executive, Guide Association 1948-51; Vice-Chairman, 13th World Conference of Guides 1950; President, Trefoil Guild 1954-63; married Ralph Davies-Cooke (died 1974: two sons, one daughter); died Denbigh, Clwyd 26 June 1994.

KATHLEEN Davies-Cooke was a founder member and president of the Trefoil Guild, which was set up to keep former girl guides involved with the Guide Association. She held many appointments within the Guide Association and was generous in giving practical help, never asking anyone to do anything which she hadn't already trained herself in; she had a strong sense of loyalty, humour and charm of manner and enjoyed the friendship and company of young people.

Scouting was a childhood favourite of Davies-Cooke's and her interests ran on boys' lines - carpentry, outdoor games, stalking, tracking and fire-lighting. The Scout Association at that time did not admit girls, and to overcome this rule she joined under the name of John Webb. When she left school she worked in her father's estate office and was qualifying as a surveyor when she married Ralph Davies-Cooke, her cousin. She was involved with Cubs and Scouts at Tilston Malpas, in Cheshire, and in 1936 she was invited to be County Commissioner for Yorkshire West Riding South.

She often recalled the story that it was only through an amusing misunderstanding that she became a County Commissioner. The retiring commissioner was also connected with the St John's Ambulance Brigade and, thinking she had been asked to take over the District unit of the Brigade, Davies-Cooke told her she had got a black uniform. The commissioner murmured, 'But the Guides wear blue, dear,' and Davies-Cooke had to improvise a uniform and hasten to her enrolment at her first County meeting.

From that day she chaired many Guide committees with wisdom, patience and understanding, and the Guide movement owes much to her work as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Council from 1948 to 1951. On her appointment, in a message to Guider magazine readers, the new Chairman reminded them that the executive was there to carry out their wishes, and to sort and advise them on the manifold range of subjects which affected Guiding. Her message was one of strong conviction, that with courage we could add to our numbers many who would learn, by their adherence to Guide ideals and principles, to 'live' as individuals and citizens.

As Vice-Chairman of the 13th World Conference in the United Kingdom she made, with others, many plans for this memorable gathering, and everyone was delighted when she was awarded the Silver Fish (Guiding's highest award) at Oxford in 1950.

Davies-Cooke was known to be equally happy and efficient whether she was running a conference, a farm, a family picnic, a village activity or a club for miners' wives. The Trefoil Guild of today owes much to her wise leadership. She was appointed Chairman in June 1953, but five years earlier had already urged members of the Movement to recognise the Trefoil Guild's value and the support it could give to Guiding.

One of Kathleen Davies-Cooke's gifts was to be able to make those who worked with her feel that they were real partners in their work and that their opinions mattered. Under her guidance a sound organisation was built up, the results of which have proved to be our best thank you to her.

(Photograph omitted)