A BROWNIE leader was given a surprise celebration by friends old and new as she celebrated 40 years in the role.

Heather Longland started the 76th Bournemouth Brownies in 1975 and was a Brown Owl for two years before that.

She had a special surprise when friends from her time as a brownie and her current brownies got together to see her receive a silver badge award from the district and county commissioners.

“I was overwhelmed by it and it was a lovely evening I didn’t know they were arranging a presentation. I know all my brownies really enjoyed it too,” she said.

The 58-year-old brown owl, who lives in Charminster, had her surprise when she arrived for the normal brownie meeting at Trinity United Reformed Church in Sutton Road.

She said: “It was our usual meeting but then people started to arrive.

“My old brown owl was there from when I was a brownie at the 17th Bournemouth Brownies and there were other people there who were brownies with me.”

Heather started the 76th Bournemouth Brownies at the old Charminster United Reformed Church on Charminster Road as there was a waiting list for her former pack.

She is not sure about targeting an award for 50 years but still loves the Brownies and has no plans to quit.

She said: “I have had brownies who’ve left and later came back with their daughters.

“It makes you feel old.

“When they turn up with their granddaughters I will know it’s time to go,” Heather joked.

Angela Ratcliffe, snowy owl, added: “Heather is just great with the children so they all enjoy it.”