Earlier this year, the 1st Jaywick Girl Guides nominated Helen Stannet for a Jack Petchey Leader Award. Helen joined 1st Jaywick as a Brownie when she was a girl and has been involved with them ever since. Jack Petchey Leader Awards are given to adults who have demonstrated, in an outstanding way, an ability to motivate young people. Helen’s Leader Award was given in recognition of 29 years of outstanding service to 1st Jaywick Rainbows, Brownies and Guides.
Not only does the Leader Award recognise Helen’s outstanding work, it also gives 1st Jaywick the opportunity to apply for a £750 Small Grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation. The Foundation is proud to support 1st Jaywick and have provided £101,600 of funding to Girlguiding units in North East Essex since 2010.
Helen started her Girlguiding journey at the age of seven when she joined the 1st Jaywick Brownies. In 1993, she started her leader training at 1st Jaywick Brownies and Guides and has been there ever since. In 2009 she reopened 1st Jaywick Rainbows which had closed due to the leaders moving to other units and she is now the leader in charge at all three units. Helen also gained her holiday qualification so that she could give the girls a residential experience that was not available to her when she was a Brownie. Throughout all of this, Helen has also found the time to get married- with the Jaywick Brownies and Guides as wedding guards of honour- and raise four children!
When we asked Helen what motivates her to work so hard for 1st Jaywick, she said that as an ex-member, she feels a sense of ownership and responsibility for its future. She added, “The opportunities and experiences I had through Guiding make me want to give something back. Thanks to Guiding I have made friends from all over the country and even further afield. I would like every girl to have the same and more opportunities than I had, giving each individual girl the chance to flourish and achieve whatever their ability or background.”
The past couple of years haven’t been easy for 1st Jaywick, as they have had difficulty in recruiting girls and retaining leaders. Jaywick is also recognised as an area with pockets of deprivation and a lack of money can make it challenging to retain and recruit new members. However, despite these issues Helen has been a rock and continued to lead all three units exceptionally.
Helen said, “I was very surprised to receive the award and very humbled, I certainly don’t volunteer to receive awards… I don’t think I do anything more than any other leader, and definitely couldn’t do it without the support and help of my leadership team within all three units and the support of my family.
At times it has been a struggle, when you go from a healthy sized unit to a unit with below the recommended number of girls. But we’ve kept it open, even with just two girls so that future girls still have a unit to go to… My life would be a lot emptier without 1st Jaywick and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Guiding.”
Carol Clarke, Jack Petchey Co-ordinator for the Guides in North East Essex, sung Helen’s praises saying, “Helen's endeavours have ensured that the Guiding movement is alive and well in Jaywick and it cannot be underestimated how much love and effort Helen puts in to keeping it that way. Numbers are increasing and the unit flourishes, she deserves recognition for all constant efforts for Jaywick.”
Katie Purcell, Grants Officer for Uniformed Groups at the Jack Petchey Foundation added, “Inspirational leaders are so important to organisations such as Girlguiding. Helen provides young people in Jaywick with opportunities to develop life skills, meet new friends and prepare themselves for their futures and I know that the young people she has worked with are so grateful for all she does. We are so pleased to be able to recognise Helen with a Leader Award for her dedication and commitment to Girlguiding and the opportunities it offers in the face of adversity.”
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