Sheffield mum-of-two collects MBE for services to Girlguiding from Prince Charles
It was a family affair for a mum-of-two from Sheffield as she travelled to Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE awarded in recognition of her services to Girlguiding.
Helen Clarke, aged 48, of Walkley, was recognised for her services as part of the Queen’s New Years Honours, having been involved with the Girlguiding community for over four decades.
Accompanied by her husband Phil, and daughters Amy, aged nine, and Megan, six, Helen was invited to visit the Girlguiding Headquarters – conveniently located opposite Buckingham Palace in London – before the investiture on April 4.
Donning her best ‘posh dress', the mum-of-two was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, who asked about her role within Girlguiding and spoke of the need for more volunteers within the community.
Speaking after the ceremony, Helen said: “It was lovely to be there. Buckingham Palace is a very grand place, it is a beautiful building and all the people were really friendly and it was lovely to be able to speak to the other recipients who were getting awards.
“As I’ve said before I just feel privileged that someone took the time to nominate me, and feel I am accepting the honour on behalf of all of the volunteers I’ve worked with in Sheffield and beyond.
“It still feels unreal but I feel a sense of relief as before I was worried I would do something wrong during the ceremony! It was all over in a blur. It has been a great day celebrating with my family.”
Helen joined Brownies as a seven-year-old, moving to Guides then Rangers before leaving her hometown of Oxfordshire to study at the University of Sheffield.
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She longed to get back into Girlguiding, so in 1991 she found a nearby group and a year later gained her leadership qualification.
Taking a few years out, she returned in 1994 and has volunteered her time working with girls in Sheffield and the wider region of the north-east of England ever since.
She was one of the youngest ever members to receive the Girlguiding Laurel for Exceptional Service in 2015, and has worked with more than 5,000 girls and young women in Sheffield and abroad.
She also played a vital role in reintroducing guiding in Western Siberia and has held many roles including unit leader and chair of Guiding development, including organising leader training and supporting volunteers in achieving leadership qualifications.
Helen is said to have been instrumental in introducing music to the lives of citizens and guides alike, acting as musical director for Big County Productions.
After five years, her term in office has recently come to an end and she is now looking forward to continuing to support leaders through safeguarding training and to a new role at the Girlguiding Sheffield Outdoor Activity Centre.
She will also continue to support the Girlguiding unit in Walkley, of which both her daughters are members.