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‘It’s nice to be recognised but that not why I do it’: long-serving Girlguiding volunteer awarded with BEM

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A Girlguiding leader who is celebrating 60 years of volunteering has also been awarded with a British Empire Medal in the same year.Pat Pinnington, who first set up the 9th King’s Lynn Guides group in 1970, was handed the award as part of this year’s King’s Birthday Honours.The 77-year-old from Lynn started her Girlguiding journey at the age of 12 when she lived in Edmonton, North London.

Girl Guides cutting the cake with Pat Pinnington earlier this year

By the time she was 15, Pat asked her Guide captain if she could help run evenings and later joined the cadets’ group, now known as young leaders.She left the unit at 16 and came back soon after to train as a Girlguiding leader.“It’s nice to be recognised but that’s not why I do it,” Pat said.

Pat Pinnington with her daughters Nicole Bheenick-Coe and Mel Carter

“I still enjoy going down and being part of the weekly meetings.” Pat later moved to Lynn and approached her local church, St Faith’s in Gaywood, and asked what she could do to help in the community.She was informed that a Guide unit was being restarted and joined as a leader at the 7th King’s Lynn Guides. “Our numbers grew and grew so big I set up the 9th King’s Lynn Guides,” Pat said.

Pat Pinnington (right) has received a BEM

Since then, Pat has taken up other roles in Girlguiding, including being a trainer and region trustee for Girlguiding Anglia.She has also been a county and division commissioner.Pat helped train Mandy Randle, a Girlguiding leader based at the 1st Watlington and Runcton Holme Unit. Mandy said: “She trained me when I became Brown Owl and has been my go-to person for advice regarding Guiding.“She has helped so many girls and women and was my lifeline during the Covid-19 pandemic and even did leaders’ training on Zoom.”Just before Pat received the news that she received the British Empire Medal, she had been asked to be president for Girlguiding Norfolk.Pat said: “I can honestly say by volunteering, I have had the most incredible experiences. “Taking the girls overseas, fundraising so that girls can go overseas. I can’t say it’s been a drudge.”She said her highlight has been taking girls overseas and to London throughout the years, including regular trips to Switzerland.Pat added: “Some of them just don’t get that experience of being independent.“You see them blossom in the week away. They’re very nervous, and anxious, and then they have an amazing week and you see them grow in their confidence and abilities. “Or you see them go off to Costa Rica, Nepal, Japan, something they wouldn’t have done normally, they come back and share what they have experienced.”

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