Royal wedding invite for Sheffield Scout leader who oversaw explosion in numbers

Gillian Goldstraw with her eldest daughter Jade
Gillian Goldstraw with her eldest daughter Jade
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A Scout leader in Sheffield who has overseen an explosion in numbers is looking forward to joining the royal wedding celebrations at Windsor Castle.

When Gillian Goldstraw began volunteering at 231st Shiregreen Scout Group 11 years ago, her daughter Jasmine was one of just two members in the Beavers section.

Not long after that, the other member left, leaving her as the sole representative among the youngest age group.

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She was one of around a dozen members in the whole unit, including her elder sister Jade who had joined the Cubs a couple of years earlier.

But, knowing how much her two daughters enjoyed being part of the movement, Gillian was not about to give up on the group.

She teamed up with other volunteers to launch a hugely successful recruitment drive, visiting schools, fairs and various community events to spread the word about the exciting opportunities available.

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Their efforts, coupled with wider attempts by the organisation to update its image from what Gillian described as 'all dyb,dyb,dyb and having to wear shorts', paid off.

Today, the group is so popular it has had to introduce a second evening for Beavers to cope with demand.

Having been a Beaver leader since joining the group, Gillian recently became a co-leader of the unit.

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Jasmine is now a group leader there and her youngest children, Trinity, aged 12, and 11-year-old Ty are both Scouts.

"When Jade first told me her friend was in the Cubs and asked to give it a go, I thought it was just for boys," said the 46-year-old, from Manor Lane Top, who runs a family garden fencing and sheds business in Millhouses.

"I didn't know much about it then but I love the Scouts now and can't imagine not being involved. At one point all my children were members - I had a Beaver, a Cub, a Scout and an Explorer Scout."

From climbing and canoeing to painting and putting on performances, young people at the group get to try a huge range of activities, as well as helping out in the community.

Gillian is also director of the non-profit company Snap Dragon, which takes business waste and uses it for all manner of activities with children in Sheffield, from music workshops with broken tools to mosaic-making with unwanted tiles.

She is one of 1,200 deserving members of the public invited by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to join their wedding celebrations in the grounds of Windsor Castle with a companion of their choice on May 19.

"I cried when I found out. It's such an honour," she said.

The biggest thrill for her was not the invitation itself but finding out she had been nominated by a parent at the group who told how much it was valued by her son.

It will be her second royal engagement, after the Scout group attended the Queen's 90th birthday parade in 2016.

"Everyone thinks we have something going on with the royal family," she joked.