A guiding light for young girls
Helen Hargreaves from Dunoon joined the Girl Guides more than 30 years ago because her daughter wanted to get involved, and while she’s grown up and gone onto other pursuits, Helen is still immersed in the guiding world.
Helen has been leader of the Girl Guide Unit at Clunes for the last 20 years, and before that worked with the US Girl Scouts in Singapore, Venezuela and Peru, as well as being a leader with Guias Scouts de Venezuela and Guias del Peru.
On Sunday Helen was presented with a Premier’s Community Service Award from Lismore MP Thomas George for her role in Girl Guides.
“I was absolutely staggered – I had no idea the award was happening,” Helen said. “I guess it’s a little embarrassing getting an award for something you enjoy doing so much – I get a huge amount of satisfaction and pleasure from being a leader. It’s such an honour – it never occurred to me people would nominate me for an award like that.”
Helen was a Brownie and then a Girl Guide herself as a youngster and said there’s no one thing she loves about being a leader, but many.
“It’s thousands of things… although the main thing is seeing the way in which the girls develop. They come in as little unsure girls with not too many skills and then they begin learning interpersonal skills, leadership skills and how to work as a member of a team, plus they develop confidence in their own abilities and that’s a very important.
“In Girl Guides, they just blossom.”
Helen said girls could learn some fun and challenging skills as a Girl Guide and have the chance to travel to interstate and international events.
“We have huge amounts of fun – on Sunday just gone we had a canoeing day and there’s lots of other outdoor activities like camping, abseiling and hiking,” Helen said. “They also get the opportunity to go interstate and overseas for camps. We have four world centres of guiding – in Mexico, Switzerland, India and England – and the girls can go there and meet girl scouts and girl guides from all over the world.
“Our program is not narrow at all, there are so many choices of things to do, and the girls can have input into their own program. What we hope to do is help the girls develop to their fullest potential in all spheres.”
So after 30 years, does she plan to continue as a leader?
“Oh yes,” she said emphatically. “Until I fall over.”