A GIRLGUIDING volunteer from Saltash has been recognised in the 2024 New Year Honours’ List for their voluntary service to young people and work supporting girls and young women over the last 24 years. 

Cheryl Smith, a leader with 1st Saltash Brownies and Girlguiding Cornwall’s Camp K  Co-ordinator, was awarded the British Empire Medal by His Majesty the King in honour of their dedication to helping to support girls in girlguiding. 

Cheryl first became involved in guiding when they joined 1st Saltash Rainbows in 1988, as the first Rainbow unit in Cornwall opened. Since then, Cheryl has helped hundreds of girls know they can do anything, through fun, challenge and adventure. 

Cheryl’s highlights during their time volunteering with girlguiding include hundreds of nights away, organising a promise party for all of Cornwall’s members and two world scout jamborees. 

Cheryl said: “I’m extremely proud and overwhelmed to receive this award. It’s been a wonderful time to reflect on all of the experiences I have had in girlguiding, the lifelong friends I have made and all the inspirational people who have helped me on my way. I love my Brownies on a Monday night, their energy and enthusiasm is contagious. They love nights away and this is the best time to watch them grow and achieve. 

“My biggest passion is Camp K. It’s a camp very different to the norm. I have an amazing team of adults and we support 24 teens to work 1:1 with 24 primary age, underprivileged ‘little people’. Our little people often come with very sad stories and we give them a weeks holiday, making sure they can forget their stresses and worries for just a short time. The week is full of the fun, laughter, unforgettable memories and friendship. I see the huge benefits for everyone involved. It’s hard work and there is very limited sleep. That being said, it is completely worth the months of preparation, the home visits and miles of travel. 

Volunteering for girlguiding is so rewarding. It’s been wonderful to work with so many young women and girls over the years. Guiding provides fantastic opportunities for girls to learn new skills and grow in confidence, speak out and make change in their communities. I would like to dedicate this award to all of the girls I’ve had the pleasure of knowing over the last 24 plus years.” 

Millie Deveson, who has volunteered at Girlguiding Cornwall’s Camp K for five years, describes the camp as a wonderful experience: “It’s a big responsibility but we all help each other and get to be big kids too. We are like a little family for the week and love all the team activities. Our favourite day is always the day trip to Woodlands. It’s so rewarding to give underprivileged children a break and fun packed week. I’ve met some wonderful friends and every year make unforgettable memories.”

Sue Harris, Girlguiding Cornwall county commissioner, said: “Cheryl has worked tirelessly with multiple organisations, including social services, to give children outside of girlguiding the opportunities which they would otherwise miss, by running a week’s camp every year, just for them. She has gathered a strong, dedicated team who return year after year to help. This well deserved award recognises her amazing hard work and dedication.”

With more than 70,000 volunteers, girlguiding has one of the largest volunteer networks in the UK. From unit helpers and unit leaders running weekly meetings, to county commissioners and girlguiding’s most senior volunteers, the chief guide and her team. 

There are lots of fun and flexible opportunities to volunteer with girlguiding. Whether it’s with girls directly in unit or supporting behind the scenes. Volunteering also isn’t just for adults, there are several young volunteer opportunities available from age ten, including young leader and peer educator roles. 

For more information about how to get involved with girlguiding, the UK’s largest youth organisation dedicated completely to girls, visit www.girlguiding.org.uk