Volunteers from Lancashire South East received an unforgettable surprise when a group of girls and young women recognised them for their volunteer efforts.


Brownie Leaders, Katie Haigh (Heywood) and Michelle Wood (Rochdale), and Guide Leaders, Gillian Leach (Bury), Susan Wint (Oldham) and Sue Lumley (Oldham)  have recently been named as five of 83 ‘Guiding Idols’ in Girlguiding North West England – a new campaign led by the regional charity to recognise its volunteers for their efforts.


Girlguiding North West England members were asked to nominate a Guiding Idol – a volunteer that they felt was an inspirational role model. Following the nominations, a youth panel of girls and young women, aged 7 to fourteen, were tasked with the difficult challenge of selecting nominees from each of the charity’s seventeen guiding counties.


The youth panel announced that they had selected 83 volunteers from across the North West and that each Guiding Idol would be invited to attend a special celebration afternoon on June 7th 2015 at Girlguiding North West England’s Region Headquarters in Preston.


The event included thought-provoking activities, a candy floss machine for the Guiding Idols and an afternoon tea with a twist. Amid the celebrations, the leaders received a Region Thanks badge from the Region Chief Commissioner, Julie Bell, and had yet another surprise when a plaque was unveiled in the Region Headquarters’ garden – a memorable tribute that named all 83 Guiding Idols for their achievement.


Michelle said: Being chosen as a guiding idol for girl guiding north west England was a honour and I felt privileged to be selected by the rainbows, Brownies and guides. It was a fantastic day celebrating with other idols from over the north west.


Katie said: I was really shocked at being nominated! my fellow Leader Diana Kilduff supports me especially with my disability, and enables me to be a Leader – without her I simply couldn’t do it. It was a fantastic honour and lovely surprise. The event was very nice too, with lots of lovely food and drink and crafty things to do, ending with the unveiling of the plaque. We also received special badges too, which now have pride of place on my uniform.”


Susan said: I was very surprised to be nominated by my fellow Guiders but it was lovely to have my hard work recognised. I restarted Diggle Guides in November last year and have had a brilliant 7 months, sharing many adventures with now 23 Guides. This nomination is very much the icing on the cake after a brilliant start for the unit. We’ve got plenty more adventures yet to come though!


Sue said “It is an honour and a privilege to work with Guides and be a small part of their lives. My Guiding years have been full of laughter and kindness – the strength and spirit of the young women I have met always surprises me. I thank both Chloe and Janice who nominated me – I believe I am an ordinary woman surrounded by extraordinary young women who make my life sparkle and shine. Thank you to all the Guides who have been part of my life past and present – you have been such an important part of my life”.


Gillian said “I was surprised and extremely touched that my daughter Amy had nominated me.I have been in guiding for thirty five years now and have had great experiences, not only with the girls that have come and gone over the years but had I not been involved in guiding I probably wouldn’t have done white water rafting, abseiling, high ropes, canoeing, camping, international visits, to name but a few. I have been blessed with wonderful memories and hope the girls look back with fond memories too. The day itself at HQ was lovely and it’s really nice to feel appreciated.  Both my daughters whom I am very proud of are both guide leaders and I know that when I finally hang up my rucksack, the unit will be left in very good hands.”


Julie Bell, Region Chief Commissioner, said: “Once again, we’ve had a fantastic response to the Guiding Idols campaign and we’re looking forward to doing it all over again next year. We wanted to thank our volunteers for all the hard work and effort they put into Girlguiding and with the support of our young members, we’ve been able to celebrate our amazing volunteers in a really memorable way.”


Guiding is active across the whole of the UK and in the North West of England we have 14,619 inspirational volunteers who give their time where they can. We welcome volunteers from all backgrounds, ages, cultures, faiths and abilities.