My mum supported me through cancer to get back to my Guides
Meet Natalie and Sheila, the mum and daughter duo who were determined to keep their Guide unit going whatever the odds
The thought of volunteering with the Guides again and being well enough to go hiking with the group helped get me through hospital - Natalie
School Administrator and Girlguiding volunteer Natalie Edwards, 39, from Wiltshire runs the 1st Wilton Guide group with her Mum Sheila Clifford, 68, and says the two have always been like best friends.
Their bond grew even stronger recently with Sheila supporting her daughter through her battle with an aggressive form of Non Hodgkins Burkitts Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.
The local guiding community rallied round the mother and daughter team and helped run the Guide group when Natalie was taken into hospital for four months last year to undergo chemotherapy and Sheila was at her side for 12 hours every day.
'The thought of volunteering with the Guides again and being well enough to go hiking with the group helped get me through hospital' says Natalie who Facetimed the Guides every Friday and made bracelets for the girls.
But it was her Mum’s unrelenting support and encouragement that helped Natalie keep a positive outlook and take her first steps back into volunteering with the Guides.
'Mum has been such a big comfort to me. I couldn’t have gone back to Guides without Mum as my security blanket – helping with the group and knowing when I’d reached my limits and needed to rest' says Natalie who is now in remission and back running the group alongside Sheila.
Giving each other confidence
However, Mum Sheila also has lots to thank Natalie for and credits her daughter with getting into volunteering with Girlguiding in the first place and boosting her confidence. 'I wouldn’t be where I am now without Natalie' says Sheila.
I was very shy and would never have gotten up and spoken in front of a group of 25 girls before
She says it was Natalie’s encouragement and belief in her that persuaded her out of her comfort zone. 'Now I speak in front of the Guides all the time. In fact I really enjoy it now' she laughs.
The girls have been fully supportive of Natalie and Sheila throughout and are glad to have their Leaders back. 'A few of them had questions about the cancer and what I went through' says Natalie who answers all their questions openly and honestly. 'But mostly their questions are about hair and make-up and if I’ll grow my hair long again' she says.
More adventures to come
And the future looks bright for the group who have lots to look forward to in the approaching months as the unit marks its 100th birthday this year. Celebrations include a trip to Wembley for Girlguiding’s BIG GIG pop concert in the autumn, a long weekend away and a disco.
Sheila and Natalie will also be starting as joint Girlguiding District Commissioners later this year and have already started undergoing training for the position which will see them supporting Girlguiding groups in their area and providing even more opportunities for girls and young women to join Girlguiding.
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