THEY are a symbol of a skill earned, and Brownies wear them with pride on the arm of their uniform to show just how much they have learned.
But now one Edinburgh pack member has gone to new lengths, amassing an incredible 33 Brownie badges – so many that there is no more room on her sleeve to fit them.
In a feat that has amazed both her leaders and parents, Sinead Fielding, ten, a member of the 211th City of Edinburgh Brownie pack for the past three years, has collected badges for everything from cookery and computer skills to dancing and protecting the environment.
The Craigentinny “badge queen” has been so successful that there’s no more room for the haul on her uniform, leaving mum Nicola, 39, to sew the rest on to a specially made gilet.
“The badges cover the front and back of her gilet,” said Nicola, a pre-school gymnastics coach. “But I was happy to do it.
“She loves the Brownies. The leaders are fantastic – anything they suggest she just buys into completely. It’s a real testament to them that she’s so into it.”
Sinead, a pupil at St Ninians Primary School in Restalrig, told the Evening News: “There aren’t that many people in my pack who have lots of badges so I thought I would try boosting the number by going for as many as I could.”
“It’s fun to do them and I like looking at them and thinking about going for them. And there are badges like the environment badge, which actually helps the environment.”
Each badge requires the Brownie member to perform a series of tasks, with success judged by pack leaders, teachers, sports coaches and parents.
Sinead said variety was part of the fun. “Some badges are hard and some are easy,” she explained. “The cookery and advanced cookery badges were a bit hard. I had to write a healthy menu and make a meal, or cupcakes.”
Sinead’s mum and Lynsay Porteous, her pack leader, paid tribute to the determination and independence shown by Sinead during her time as a Brownie at St Christophers Church, Craigentinny.
“Ten of the badges were done with the Brownie pack, 23 on her own,” said Nicola. “She likes to collect stuff and it’s the variety of things that they do that appeals. They’re just a really friendly bunch.
“I like it because it means she’s doing things with kids from the neighbourhood. Her dad, Malcolm, likes the fact that she’s found something she’s interested in.”
Ms Porteous said: “I have never known anyone to get so many. She has double the number anyone else in the pack has. She’s very driven.
“Whenever I speak to other people about it, no-one can believe the number of badges she has.
“Some badges are easier than others but it’s the range of badges she’s gone for and the effort she’s put into it which is so extraordinary.
She added: “I think her success is due to the fact she loves Brownies so much. She’s just so enthusiastic. And she’s encouraging other Brownies to go for more badges.”
Sinead will have to leave the Brownies in July when she turns 11 and start her badge collection from scratch as a Girl Guide but she’s not put off.
She said: “It just means I’ve got another chance to get more badges.”
A spokeswoman for the organisation said that Sinead’s haul of badges was very impressive, but admitted they did not keep records of how many badges were earned by individual members, making it impossible to say whether this was a record.