News / April 25th, 2023

Our partnerships

In Bedfordshire we have several partnerships we are really proud of.  We are working in partnership with Shuttleworth, Wrest Park and Whipsnade Zoo.  We also support Keech Hospice.

This blog showcases how we work with our partners.

Wrest Park

We have held varying events at Wrest Park over the years, the most recent of which was Dragons & Tiaras.

The Wrest Park Quest is an opportunity for members of Girlguiding Bedfordshire to visit a local historic landmark in Silsoe, near Clophill, and take part in our updated Challenge with a range of activities and resources available for all sections which can also be linked to the skill builders.

The Wrest Park Challenge has been available for a while but has recently been refreshed. This is well worth a day out, as it is a low-cost day out with chance to cover a number of skills builders.

There is no dedicated Education Support at Wrest Park, which means the quest can be done on any date that there is a free slot, other than the 2nd Saturday each month, which is not available.

The Quest can be adjusted to take as little or long as required. On the day participants go to the Visitor Centre and meet an English Heritage volunteer or member of staff who will take you to the Learning Centre.  There you will find all the equipment you need to run the activities.

Over the year 2022, 5 units and 63 girls enjoyed completing the challenge. And we already have more than that booked in for this year. We hope you will join them.


More recently we forged a partnership with the Shuttleworth Collection.  It kicked off with us putting on a vintage camp at their annual vintage airshow a few years ago.  This has now become an annual event.

Shuttleworth are also keen that we get the opportunity to promote ourselves, so we are given the opportunity to have a PR stand at their family airshow, which this year is carnival themed.  And we have worked together to devise the Shuttleworth Quest.  This is a must to add to a unit’s programme. The quest offers a fantastic day out at Shuttleworth.

Groups normally start off with a map quest in the beautiful Swiss gardens (looking out for the white peacock).  Then after lunch the quest moves on to the Shuttleworth collection, where girls discover about inspirational women and their achievements in STEM.

The Quest can be booked by units when Shuttleworth is open, unless there is a major event on, visit

Last year 9 units and 191 girls enjoyed a day of discovery while completing the Shuttleworth Quest. This is a day out that we can highly recommend.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Girlguiding Bedfordshire have strong historical ties with Whipsnade Zoo with a residential venue (Windy Sayles) a short walk away.

In March 2020, the UK went into lock-down as a response to the COVID-19 crisis.  After 13 weeks of closure, ZSL London and Whipsnade zoos reopened in June 2020. It is the longest Whipsnade Zoo has ever been closed since it opened in 1931.

Taking care of the animals, with staff, food and veterinary bills racking up, the zoos faced possible closure without financial support. The ITV documentary shown in late September 2020, stated that for every month the zoos were closed, they were suffering losses of £2.3 million pounds per month.

ZSL relies on the visitors coming through the doors. At peak times, like the summer, the zoos would expect to see approximately 25,000 visitors come through their doors every day.

It was strongly felt that we should do something to help raise much needed funds for this amazing attraction on our doorstep. So here at Girlguiding Bedfordshire we devised the Whipsnade Challenge.

Whipsnade Zoo even produced an introductory video for us which you can watch at

The Whipsnade Zoo Challenge continues to support the zoo with 11 units and 255 girls completing this challenge in 2022.

Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, and Rangers from across the county have been raising funds for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo after launching this wild new challenge in support of the conservation charity.  Hundreds of Girlguiding members completed fun animal-inspired tasks while raising funds for the UK’s largest Zoo, which cares for over 10,000 animals, many of which are threatened in the wild and part of important global breeding programmes.

We arranged a country trip to Whipsnade Zoo over a weekend in September 2021.  Over 1230 members were able to visit the Zoo for a special day out to celebrate our return to face-to-face guiding after our ‘adventures at home’ and our fundraising efforts.  We presented ZSL with a cheque for £2,400. To read more ….

The Whipsnade challenge is still available and getting involved you will find out about the history of the zoo, think about conservation and have some animal fun. To date we have raised over £3,700.

Keech Hospice Care

As the first lockdown hit, Keech Hospice closed all 33 of their shops and sent all but essential staff home, due to COVID-19 in their 30th anniversary year.

Keech Hospice is a charity, relying on their supporters for around 70% of their funding. This means they need to raise over £6 million every year (over £16,000 every day!) to continue their specialist care for adults and children, and their families.

As a charity, they provide free, specialist care for adults in Luton and south Bedfordshire, and children from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes, who have life-limiting and terminal illnesses.

Keech Hospice were not able to properly celebrate their 30th anniversary but did bring a community together through “The Big Trunk Trail” art event.

Girlguiding Bedfordshire decided to support Keech Hospice, along with many schools and other community groups across Luton.  We bought a baby elephant (calf) and named her Olivia. Lauren Allcroft, a very talented artist and Rainbow Leader from Luton, painted Olivia in a way which showcased not only her own artistic skills, but also how amazing Girlguiding is.

Olivia was on display in The Mall in Luton as part of The Big Trunk Trail for 13 weeks.  As part of the parade of dazzling elephant sculptures in the most unique outdoor public art event Luton had ever seen.

At the end of the unforgettable jumbo event, each elephant calf went back to its forever home, with its creator group or school. So, Olivia is now ours to keep.  Before she settles down somewhere in the County, she is on a big adventure, so she can meet as many of our members as possible.

Units can invite Olivia to visit and donate to help raise vital funds for Keech Hospice.

The Olivia challenge is still running and profits from the sale of the badges sold is making a little more money going to help Keech Care Hospice. The challenge has 2 sections: Keech Celebrates 30 Years and Elephant Fun.

Olivia’s Big Trunk Trail has raised more than £1,460 to date and we continue to take bookings and sell badges.


With such successful partnerships, we are often on the look out for other organisation we can partner with.  Look out for our next partnership with Marston Forest Centre coming soon.

Look out on our social media channels for units shouting out about these awesome quests and challenges.  You should see some photos of the girls and leaders having a lot of fun participating in these activities.  If you’d like to join in the fun become a volunteer.