THERE are plenty of ways for a Furness Brownie to gain a coveted badge but winning support from the head of the world's millions of Roman Catholics has to help a bit.

The Mail, on January 22 in 2000, noted: "A young Brownie received a bit of divine intervention in her efforts to gain a badge.

"For Catriona MacPherson went straight to the top - and got help from the Pope.

"Like all the other Brownies from the St Mary's group, Catriona was given the task of gaining her communications badge.

"The nine-year-old, of West View Road, Barrow, decided to write off to some famous people with the aim of getting a reply.

"So the St Pius School pupil put pen to paper and sent off a letter to the Vatican in the last summer holidays, telling Pope John Paul about taking Holy Communion.

"Yesterday, six months after she posted hers off, a reply from the man himself dropped on the doormat."

Her mum Shelly said: "It was amazing. I couldn't believe it when I saw it.

"She actually wrote off in the summer and didn't really expect to get a reply.

"Part of the badge requirement is to write off to important people. Catriona also wrote off to Sophie-Rhys Jones.

"The letter from the Vatican even apologised for the late response because of the vast amount of correspondence he gets.

"It is a lovely letter with  a gold pendant on it."

In February 2000, the 24th Vickerstown Methodists beat nine other Barrow Brownie packs to win the Forresters Cup in a competition day held at the Trinity Church Centre, Abbey Road.

The Mail noted: "Among the challenges the girls completed were a word search, sewing buttons, knowing different parts of the body and recognising the different uniforms of Brownies around the world."

The same month saw the 3rd Dalton Brownies hold a bring and buy sale to raise £230 for the BBC Blue Peter New Life Appeal to provide incubators for needy babies.

In October 1999, Ireleth with Askam St Peter's Brownies helped to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Cumbria South District with a special curlew badge to be earned by organising a fund raising event for charity.

The 21-strong pack decided to hold a pet show to raise funds for Animal Welfare Furness.

Overall winner of the Brownie competition was seven-year-old Emily Graham, from Askam, with her King Charles spaniel, called Dolly.