Our volunteers awarded New Year Honours

These volunteers have been recognised for their service to Girguiding

19 January 2023

The New Year Honours recognises people who have made achievements in public life and committed themselves to serving and helping the UK. 

Three amazing Girlguiding volunteers were recognised in the 2023 list. Learn about Joan, Hilary and Helena:

Joan Taylor, awarded an BEM

Joan Taylor, awarded an BEM

Joan has been recognised for for services to the community in Wandsworth, including over 70 years service in Girlguiding London South West county.

'My guiding journey started a very long while ago as Brownie in a remote village in the Fenlands,' says Joan. 'We moved to London in 1938 where a neighbour took me along to the local unit. Many children were evacuated at the outbreak of war and our Brownie unit became very small, but still continued.'

'I became a Guide in 1941, schooling was very haphazard as schools opened and closed - I went to 9 different schools during the war years - but guiding was always there and reliable. I was very lucky with my leaders, when my father was killed and our family had little money, our then leader found grants so I could go to camp and have another uniform as I grew.'

As a Guide, Joan helped at a local hospital and earned the war service badge, and when she became a Ranger, moved to north London to train as a hospital caterer. After Rangers, she joined a local Guide unit as an assistant leader and then her commissioner found her a temporary job at HQ helping with our coronation souvenirs, after she became too ill to be a caterer.

'My contract was for between 6 weeks and 6 months, but various opportunities occurred and I retired 36 years later!' says Joan.

While working at HQ, she was the leader of the unit where she had been a Guide, became a first aid trainer and had several roles within the county, such as division camp adviser, county camp adviser and county training adviser.

She then became a helper at Brownie holidays and at Rainbows, and joined the Trefoil Guild and became county chairperson and chairperson of her local Trefoil Guild.

I think my favourite thing about guiding is the people - I met (and still meet) so many wonderful and inspiring people, both adults and youngsters. - Joan

Hilary Cooper, awarded an BEM

Hilary Cooper, awarded an BEM

"When my friend in Year 6 at school said 'Why not come along to Guides?', who would have thought it would open so many doors and shape my life?" says Hilary, from North East England. "I loved Guides, especially everything outdoorsy: camping, hiking, youth hostelling, travel. Aĺl the things I still love and do today.

"I was fortunate to have a fantastic leader who made sure we did all of these things and I seemed to naturally move into leading them so giving girls and leaders opportunities too."

Hilary became an outdoor adviser, then a trainer and then the commissioner for North East England region, saying: "I have been at every level from unit leader to a lead volunteer and trustee. All along I have been a unit leader with Rangers in North Tyneside and I like to think have helped them to shape their own future."

Girlguiding gives you a lifetime of friends and friendship. It doesn't matter about age or background, you just have so much in common. - Hilary

Helena White, awarded a BEM

Helena White, awarded a BEM

Helena White, from Ulster, joined Girlguiding 56th Belfast Brownies in 1958, going onto become a Guide and then assistant Guide leader in 1968.

Between 1976 and 1991 she helped with district communications in Comber and Craigantlet, going onto running North Down county's communications, become county outdoor adviser and training coordinator and badge secretary.

She's also run Guide and Ranger units, and currently helps run a Brownie unit. She was also the county president from 2017 to 2022. She says: "The outdoor aspect of guiding is what I love most. Camping is the best way to get to know the girls."

And she's also been Mrs Claus at Lorne Estate since 2013!

What I like best about Girlguiding are the friendships I have made, the fun I have had and the skills I have acquired. - Helena

And a huge congratulations to Charlotte Claughton from Billericay division, on being awarded an MBE. Charlotte was the senior project leader for the refurbishment of the Elizabeth Tower and for services to Parliament.

Did you know there are lots of ways to thank volunteers for their hard work and support? Go to our Awards and recognition webpage and find out about our Thanks badge and Good service brooch, our long service awards and our highest recognitions, like the Laurel and Silver Fish award. Check whether your county and region have awards that you could give out too.

Has someone in your area has done something amazing? Email [email protected] and let us know!