Gloucestershire County Commissioner recognised for her role empowering hundreds of girls and young women.
A Cheltenham Girlguiding volunteer has been honoured for her work supporting girls and young women over 34 years with the prestigious Girlguiding Laurel Award
Helen Welsh was presented with a specially-designed solid silver brooch in honour of her inspirational efforts by SW England Region Chief Commissioner Solange Rebours at a ceremony last weekend. Helen first became involved in guiding when she joined as a Brownie in Hampshire aged 7, became a Gloucestershire Girlguiding adult volunteer after moving to Cheltenham in 1981 and has volunteered ever since – providing amazing opportunities for girls and young women
Helen’s highlights during her time with Girlguiding include taking a group to a camp in South Korea, celebrating its Centenary with her Ranger Guides at the top of the Empire State Building, waving off a member of her unit who took part in a Tall Ships Race, and seeing many hundreds of girls grow in confidence and self-esteem as they completed things they didn’t know they could be capable of. More recently Helen has been leading a pioneering Holiday Brownies project giving girls waiting to join Brownies the chance to experience all that Brownies has to offer. Run by local students, many of whom are former members of Helen’s units, this new and flexible approach to Guiding is now spreading nationally. Helen’s current unit is also breaking new ground as it is a joint unit made up of local teens and students from the Star College. When Helen is not busy with her Gloucestershire Guiding, she also works on the world guiding stage training leaders, and helping them find ways to grow the organisations in their own countries.
Helen, said: "I’m extremely proud to receive this award. Volunteering for Girlguiding is such a rewarding experience and it’s been wonderful to work with so many young women and girls over the years and see the difference guiding makes to their lives. Guiding opens up so many fantastic opportunities for girls to grow in confidence and become a powerful force for good in their communities. I would like to dedicate this award to all of the girls and leaders in the UK, USA and wider world I have had the pleasure of knowing over the last 34 years."
Emily Green, 22, who attended Helen’s Senior Section Unit, was one of the first leaders of Holiday Brownies and is now volunteering with a charity in India during a gap year said: “being a member of Cheltenham Rangers opened up a lot of opportunities for me thanks to Helen. She inspired me to travel to places I had only dreamt of visiting, take organisational roles in events I never thought I could be a part of, and encouraged me to make an active impact in my community, both within Guiding and in other ways”
Chief Guide Gill Slocombe, said: “We are very proud of Helen’s contribution which has had a tremendous impact on the girls, volunteers and wider community that benefits from Girlguiding in S W England. Without dedication such as hers, we would not be able to offer the challenges, fun and friendship which are an integral part of belonging to Girlguiding.
In Gloucestershire there are currently over 450 girls who want to take part, and Girlguiding Gloucestershire needs lots more volunteers to give time to support their local groups.
By giving just one or two hours a week, volunteers can help local girls and young women enjoy a wide range of exciting activities, as well as acquire new skills and experiences – and have fun at the same time.
The charity welcomes volunteers of all backgrounds, ages, cultures, faiths and abilities. For more information about volunteering with Girlguiding, visit www.girlguiding.org.uk
Girlguiding gives girls and young women their own space to have fun, grow in confidence and discover their full potential. For more information, call 0800 1 69 59 01 or visit www.girlguiding.org.uk.
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