Horley energy firm makes science fun at guides’ centenary event

SGN Support Officer Dave Waiting with some girls from The Senior Section who are trying out the pipe activity - picture submitted
SGN Support Officer Dave Waiting with some girls from The Senior Section who are trying out the pipe activity - picture submitted

Horley-based gas distribution network company SGN has joined up with Girlguiding to inspire the next generation of engineers.

Volunteers from SGN spoke to girls of all ages about potential STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers, at the Girlguiding event Spark.

SGN Connections Designer Diane Jamieson helps a Brownie with the pipework activityat the Girlguiding Sparks event promoting  - picture submitted

SGN Connections Designer Diane Jamieson helps a Brownie with the pipework activityat the Girlguiding Sparks event promoting - picture submitted

Spark was organised by the members of Girlguiding’s Senior Section to kick off celebrations to mark its 100th anniversary. More than 6,000 girls and young women aged five to 25, from across the UK, attended the two-day event in London last month.

SGN’s stand proved popular with over 600 girls trying their hand at a pipework activity. SGN volunteers Faye Tester, Diane Jamieson and Dave Waiting spoke to the girls about potential STEM careers and shared their own experiences from working in the gas industry. They also raised awareness of gas safety and carbon monoxide.

Head of community Pamela Goee said: “Girlguiding research has shown fewer than one in ten girls aged seven to ten in the UK would choose a career as an engineer, scientist or lawyer.

“We want to inspire girls and young women to choose a STEM-related career.

“We hope by raising awareness of the variety of jobs available in STEM subjects at an early age, we’ll increase the pool of women working in engineering roles in the gas industry over the coming years.”

Support officer Dave Waiting added: “With lots of fun activities for the kids to take part in, I didn’t think we’d get a look in but our stand was really busy.

“Many of the girls were intrigued by gas because it’s something they hadn’t really thought about before.

“Two girls intending to study accountancy and design in university thought we only recruited engineers.

“I explained how a large company like SGN has opportunities in lots of different departments, from accountants in our finance department to designers in our connections team. It really opened their eyes to the possibilities.”

Diane Jamieson, connections designer, enjoyed helping with the pipework activity. She said: “The pipe activity was really effective in getting the girls to try out tools they hadn’t used or seen before. We created a safe environment for them to try the activity, explaining everything in the simplest terms. The look of pride on their faces when they completed the task was brilliant. A few even came back to try it again. Hopefully a few seeds have been planted and the girls’ minds opened to technical tasks and roles.”

Faye Tester, Co-ordinator in SGN’s Environment and Support Services department, added: “Our scratch-and-sniff cards which demonstrate what gas smells like were very popular, especially with the Rainbows, aged five-seven. The girls learned what a gas leak smells like and to call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999 if they ever smell gas.”